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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Ophelia Settle Egypt*

Ophelia Egypt left a legacy for the future. In the early 1950s, Mrs. Egypt, a social worker in Southeast Washington, DC saw a problem in her community, and set out to solve it. In the neighborhood where she lived and worked, she often came in touch with impoverished mothers of large families. Many of them were hardly more than girls themselves, and they told her over and over that they felt that they had no options. They thought they’d never be able to obtain birth control information and services.

Mrs. Egypt thought otherwise. In 1956, Planned Parenthood hired her to bring family planning into her community. She did exactly that, with tireless commitment. Mrs. Egypt went door-to-door, visited in living rooms, spoke at informal neighborhood gatherings, handed out literature at public housing projects, and reached out to others in every possible way. Singlehandedly and singlemindedly, she persuaded community leaders, including clergy, that family planning was a means of empowerment that gave women and men more control over their economic condition.

In 1957, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington opened the first private family planning clinic in Southeast Washington, DC, and for 11 years, Mrs. Egypt was its director. In 1981, three years before Mrs. Egypt passed away, the clinic was named for her.

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