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.

Skip Navigation Links
Bernard Nash Photo
Bernard Nash

Dr. Bernard Nash received his MSW from the University of Minnesota School of Social Work with a group work concentration. Upon completing his social work training he conducted some of the earliest group programs for adult offenders, both in the community and in the Minnesota State Prison, Stillwater, Minnesota. While a student at the School of Social Work he conducted some of the early group work programs for delinquent gangs in Minneapolis.

Nash's pioneering was really in the field of the aging. While in Minnesota he served as Executive Secretary to the Governor's Council on Aging and later came to Washington, D.C. as Deputy Commissioner of the U.S. Administration on Aging. He later became the Executive Director of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). He has served as a consultant to all three past White House Conferences on Aging as well as having served two terms as President of the International Federation on Aging.

He will perhaps be remembered in the future for having conceived and organized the first Foster Grandparent Programs, a program which has now developed all over this country as well as in foreign countries. He has authored some 60 articles and chapters on aging subjects and has been active in several voluntary roles, including President of the Episcopal Society for Ministry on Aging and Chairman of the Maryland State Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Nash was a Navy pilot in WWII and is a retired Rear Admiral in the Naval Reserve. He was the Coordinator for Special Outreach in AARP's Worker Equity Department. After coming to Washington, D.C. he earned a Doctorate in Public Administration.

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.