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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Norma Gray "Cindy" Jones Photo
Norma Gray "Cindy" Jones*

Pioneering Contributions

Norma Gray "Cindy" Jones was the US Navy's first African American female social work officer. She served for 21 years as a Navy Commander where her work altered Navy social practices and policies. Her efforts included establishing new programs for entry level Navy social workers and implementing Family Advocacy treatment programs worldwide. She held several program management positions to include, Deputy Directory Fleet and Family Support Programs and the Director of Research for the Fleet and Family Support Programs in Millington, TN. She established new billets for Navy social workers in Diego Garcia, and Bahrain.

CDR Jones served as Director of Behavioral Health Services at the Naval Hospital, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, focusing primarily on the “Children Soldiers” population and assisting political prisoners and refugees. Her last position on active duty was, Director of Social Work Department at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Career Highlights

Jones spent more than 30 years in various senior-level positions for the Navy. She was commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the Medical Service Corps and rose to the rank of Commander. Jones began her military career in San Diego, CA and was then transferred to Adak, Alaska as part of a two-person mental health team, working with military families and family violence issues. The WIC program she established there was used until the base closing in 1996. Jones served as Regional Family Advocacy Representative in London, England, served five major naval bases, and established a position for a naval psychiatrist in the UK, which was a first. She also served as a consultant and trainer to the US Embassies in London and Paris on matters related to family violence. In addition, Jones served individual clients in London.

When she returned to the U.S. in 1992, Jones was instrumental in conducting research on treatment modalities to combat family violence while stationed at San Diego Naval Base. As a result of this work, she was invited to earn her PhD. Jones co-facilitated CSWE's Veterans Social Work Education Task Force which led to the development of the CSWE’s Military Social Work Practice Standards. While in Norfolk she served on the YWCA’s Board of Directors. During this period she served as Associate Professor and Director of the PhD Program at Norfolk State University. She also worked with the female athletes to promote educational development and interpersonal skills. Jones retired from Ethelyn Strong School of Social Work in Norfolk, VA in 2010. Currently she is Clinical Associate Social Work Professor, Fayetteville State University Military Social Work Program, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Biographic Data

Jones received her PhD in Social Work in 2001 from Norfolk State University and her MSW Degree in 1975 from West Virginia University. She received her BS Degree in Sociology in 1973 from Bennett College, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Significant Achievements and Awards

  • 2009: Outstanding Alumnae Bennett College, Tidewater Chapter.
  • 2005: NASW Social Work Pioneer.
  • 1995: Alumnae Achievement Award, Bennett College.
  • 1993: U.S. Navy Social Worker of the Year.
  • 1979: and 1986 Outstanding Young Women of America.
  • 1980: Who’s Who of American Women.
  • Navy Awards and Decorations.
  • 2004: Joint Service Commendation Medal.
  • 1995: and 2005 Meritorious Service Medal.
  • Navy Commendation Medal with three gold stars.
  • Navy Achievement Medal, with one gold star.

NASW Leadership Positions

  • 1990-1992 President, of International Chapter of National Association of Social Workers
  • 1989-1990 President, British Chapter of NASW, London England 
  • 1990-1991 Secretary, of British Chapter of NASW
  • 1979-1983 North Carolina NASW, Board of Directors

Significant Publications

  • Grady, B. and Jones, N.G. (2013). Caring for the Child Soldiers of Guantanamo, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, (ed) Norma G. Jones, Taylor and Francis, London.
  • Jones, N.G. (2013) Social and Behavioral Health in the Military, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, (ed) Norma G. Jones, Taylor and Francis London.
  • Jones, N.G. and Harris, J.J. (2011) "African Americans and genetic research, risk versus benefit: Implications for the profession of social work" Social Work in Public Health, 26, 380-391.
  • CSWE White Paper, "Focus and Needs of Social Work Education in Meeting the Requirements of Today’s Veterans" (with Peter Vaughan), May 2009.
  • Harris, J. and Jones, NG (2007). "African American military service members and their families: A different environment" in Human Behavior in the Social Environment (Letha Lee See, ed.). Haworth Press:NY.
  • Jones, NG (2003). "A study of the influence of protective factors as a resource to African American males in traditional batterers' interventions." Journal of Health and Social Policy, 16, 169-183
  • Jones was the keynote speaker at the “Current Issues Facing Women in the Military” and a facilitator at the APM’s Council on Social Work Education Conference in San Antonio, TX, in November 2009. She has presented nationally and internationally on military social work practice, women in the military, and children soldiers. 

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.