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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Peter B. Vaughan Photo
Peter B. Vaughan

Dr. Peter B. Vaughan is the founding director of social work service at the Detroit Model Neighborhood Comprehensive Health Program, Inc., which later became Total Health Care, Inc. In 1976 he joined the faculty of the School of Social Work at Wayne State University with a concurrent appointment as Chief of the Life Stress Center at the Health Care Institute, later to become the University Health Service/Detroit General Hospital, where he was responsible for developing an autonomous social work service in a new ambulatory care teaching facility in Detroit’s inner city.

He served on several boards of directors of social service organizations in Detroit, and he was appointed to the first Detroit Commission on Aging by the mayor of Detroit. He also was as a member of the Detroit-Wayne County Area on Aging, and was appointed by Governor William Milliken to serve a term as commissioner on the State Commission on Aging. Dr. Vaughan was an active member of the then Detroit Chapter of NASW, had membership on several committees, and he was elected to represent the Chapter on the Delegate Assembly in 1980.

Dr. Vaughan joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1981 where his teaching was primarily in the areas of social work practice, interdisciplinary collaboration in health care settings, and human behavior. He was one of four principals from three schools at the University of Pennsylvania (medicine, nursing, social work) in the West Philadelphia Collaborative for Child Health, a research and service development project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

He was the Co-Principal Investigator on a Youth Resiliency Protector Demonstration Project sponsored by the Center for Health, Achievement, Neighborhood Growth and Ethnic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and funded by the Kellogg Foundation. He was a member of a number of boards including the National Advisory Committee, Local Funding Partners Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Visiting Nurses Association of Greater Philadelphia, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA, Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on the Readjustment of Vietnam and Other War Veterans, The Women’s Law Project, Eagleville Hospital, Parents Against Drugs, and member and chair of the Board of Managers, The Philadelphia Foundation.

Dr. Vaughan has served as dean of the Graduate School of Social Service at Fordham University since October 2000. Since moving to New York he has been an active participant in the professional community which includes membership on the Strategic Planning Committee of NYC Chapter NASW, the Social Work Education Consortium, the Latino Social Work Task Force and New York State Deans Association.

He also hosted the Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond when the Institute established a presence in NYC. In 2011 he was awarded the Knee-Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award in Health and Mental Health Practice by the NASW Foundation and was also recognized by the NYC Chapter of NASW with an award for Highest Social Work Leadership in New York City. He has also served two terms on the CSWE Commission on Accreditation and was a member of the board of the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR). Currently he is on the Executive Committee of the St. Louis Group for Excellence in Social Work Research and Education.

Dr. Vaughan received a BA in Sociology from Temple University, an MSW in Group Work from Wayne State University, MA in Psychology and a PhD in Social Work and Psychology from the University of Michigan.

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!  Pioneers will be inducted at the 2023  Annual Program and Luncheon. Full biographies and event details coming soon.