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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Wilma Peebles-Wilkins
Wilma Peebles-Wilkins

The former Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Wilma Peebles-Wilkins, PhD, DPNAP, was Dean of the Boston University School of Social Work for 12 years. She currently is Dean Emeritis at Boston University. Prior to moving to Boston, she was the Director of the Social Work Program, Associate Head of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, and Associate Professor at North Carolina State University (NCSU). She graduated from North Carolina State University in 1967 with a BA Degree in Sociology and a minor in Social Work. Her MSSA is from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio and her Doctorate is from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She was one of the early gubernatorial appointees to the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board. She had been active with NASW in various capacities, has been a member of the Board of Directors and the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education, as well as the Board of Directors of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work and Chair of the New England Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work. She was a state delegate and member of the first Examination Committee of the Association of State Boards of Social Work.

Dr. Peebles-Wilkins has more than 40 years of experience as a social work practitioner, administrator, and educator. She has worked both in the public and private sectors as well as in an acute care hospital in pediatrics. In 2000, she was inducted into the National Academies of Practice as a Distinguished Practitioner because of her health care advocacy work. In 2002, she received the "Greatest Contributions to Social Work Education" award from the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

She was active in community service and civic organizations in Massachusetts and served on the Professional Advisory Committee for the Department of Social Services. She is on the editorial board or is consulting editor for several refereed social work journals. She is the recent past editor-in-chief of Children and Schools. Her publications cover a range of issues associated with services to families and children and curriculum development; and the contributions of African Americans to social welfare history. Under the auspices of NIMH, she organized local faculty in Boston around the research needs in managed health and behavioral health care. This effort culminated in an edited book, Managed Care Services: Policy, Program, and Research (co-edited with Dr. Nancy Veeder) which was published by the Oxford University Press.

In October 2019, Dr. Peebles-Wilkins was honored as a trailblazer in the field of social work by the Case Western Reserve University Office for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity.  To learn more about the October 12 ceremony please visit the Trailblazer Project on the Case Western Reserve University website.

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.