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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Werner Boehm Photo
Werner Boehm* (1913-2011)

Werner Boehm came to the United States from Germany in 1937. He became a citizen in 1944. He received an L.L.B. in 1936 from the University of Dijon, France and an MSW from Tulane University in 1941. Mr. Boehm was known as a social work educator whose pioneering work was in curriculum development in the U.S. and social work in Canada. He taught at the University of Minnesota from 1958 to 1963. He also taught at the Graduate School of Social Work at Rutgers University and was the dean from 1963 to 1972.

Boehm was the director for the Center for International Cooperative Social Welfare from 1973 to 1981. He was the vice president of the Minnesota Welfare Conference in 1954-55. He was the U.S. member of the Committee of International Social Work from 1955 to 1961, and Vice Chairman of the International Conference in 1961. He continued his work on the international conference. He was the vice chairman of the 10th International Conference of Social Work in Italy in 1961, Brazil in 1962, and in Manila in 1970. He received a Fulbright Travel Grant for work in Italy 1969, in Rome 1971, in San Juan 1976, and lectured in Germany and France from 1982 to 1983.

Boehm was a scholar at the National Institute of Social Work Training in London and he was U.S. representative to its commission on the social development 18th International Conference of Social Welfare in San Juan. Dr. Boehm engaged in considerable research and writing and served as editor in chief of the social work series both nationally and internationally. He was named the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Social Worker of the Year in 1983. 1n 1992, Boehm received an honorary doctorate from Tulane University School of Social Work. He was a member of NASW, the Council on Social Welfare Education, the National Conference on Social Welfare and the first vice president of the New Jersey Welfare Council. Boehm lived in New Brunswick, New Jersey and was a professor at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Social Work in New Brunswick until his retirement.

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