NASW Pioneers Biography Index

The National Association of Social Workers Foundation is pleased to present the NASW Social Work Pioneers®. NASW Pioneers are social workers who have explored new territories and built outposts for human services on many frontiers. Some are well known, while others are less famous outside their immediate colleagues, and the region where they live and work. But each one has made an important contribution to the social work profession, and to social policies through service, teaching, writing, research, program development, administration, or legislation.

The NASW Pioneers have paved the way for thousands of other social workers to contribute to the betterment of the human condition; and they are are role models for future generations of social workers. The NASW Foundation has made every effort to provide accurate Pioneer biographies.  Please contact us at to provide missing information, or to correct inaccurate information. It is very important to us to correctly tell these important stories and preserve our history.  

Please note, an asterisk attached to a name reflects Pioneers who have passed away. All NASW Social Work Pioneers® Bios are Copyright © 2021 National Association of Social Workers Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

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Margaret Berry Photo
Margaret Berry* (1915-2002)

Margaret Berry was well known throughout the world of social work, nationally and internationally, both because of her work in the field of group work, and her work with the National Conference on Social Welfare, of which she was President in 1970-1971 and then as Executive Director from 1972 to 1979. Margaret worked in the field of group work in 1941 in Pittsburgh, PA at the Soho community House. Before becoming Executive Director of the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers in 1952 she worked with the YWCA of Cleveland, Ohio, the National Social Welfare Assembly, for which she worked with the German Youth Leadership Project under a Rockefeller Foundation grant. She continued her work with the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers until 1971.

Her contributions as a Pioneer can be found in the period of almost 20 years when she was with the National Federation of Settlements and Neighborhood Centers during which time many changes were seen in this area of group work. New affiliates were established in many communities until she was responsible for 51 cities. Standard setting became a part of the day to day business. Training programs were developed for those involved in operating programs and their volunteers. The need for professional publications became necessary for the professionalism of group work. It was necessary to address greater Congressional and legislative intervention in programs of a group work nature, and she was actively involved in developing group work activities on an international basis.

These pioneering interests and activities required a person with a good professional background, one with vision and concern for those children and adults involved in group work programs, and one with a great deal of energy and dedication.

Margaret Berry was honored on several occasions for the contributions she has made to the field of social work, particularly that of social group work. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Albion College and the School of Applied Social Sciences, Case-Reserve University, the Jane Addams Award from the National Federation of Settlements, the Grace Coyle Award for her International Contributions, and Special Citations from both the National Conference on Social Welfare and the National Committee on the Advancement of Social Work with Groups.

Newly Inducted NASW Social Work Pioneer Hortense McClinton 2015

Nominate A New NASW Pioneer

Please note, Pioneer nominations made between today’s date through March 31, 2023, will not be reviewed until spring 2023.

Completed NASW Pioneer nominations can be submitted throughout the year and are reviewed at the June Pioneer Steering Committee Meeting. To be considered at the June meeting, submit your nomination package by March 31. To learn more, visit our Pioneer nomination guidelines.

New Pioneers 

Congratulations newly elected Pioneers!  2020, 2021 and 2022 Pioneers were inducted at the 2022 Annual Program and Luncheon. 

2022 Special Honoree