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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  Mildred "Mit" Joyner Photo
Mildred "Mit" Joyner (1949-2023)

NASW Mourns Loss of Past President, Mildred "Mit" Joyner

Obituary, The Philadelphia Tribune

Pioneering Contributions

Mildred "Mit" Joyner, DPS, MSW, LCSW served as President of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), from July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2023.She also served as Vice President of the North America Region of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), which includes Canada and the United States and is a member of IFSW’s Executive Committee. She served on the boards of the NASW Foundation and the NASW Assurance Services, Inc. Her other board service included a community bank, DNBFIRST, where she was the first female and only African American to serve in this capacity and the Chester County Food Bank.

Professor Joyner was a pioneer in teaching, research, writing, and community activism for more than 30 years, focusing on the areas of gerontology and multicultural issues. Her work in gerontology education garnered recognition via the creation of the Mit Joyner Gerontology Leadership Award in 2005. The award promotes leadership for undergraduate social work faculty and students in scholarship, best practices, and/or community connections.

Joyner established the first MSW program in the Pennsylvania state system of higher education. She has also served in multiple leadership positions in nearly every social work professional organization, including the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW). In 2010, Joyner was an invited presenter at a congressional briefing on the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act.

Career Highlights

Mildred Joyner is Emerita Director and Professor of Social Work at West Chester University, positions she held for 25 years.  She arrived at West Chester University in 1981 as an assistant professor. Joyner began her career as a child welfare worker and moved through a series of positions in the Chester County Children, Youth, and Families Agency.  She also served as Board Chair of Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a national education and support organization and on the Chester County Food Bank.  

Biographic Data

Joyner received her MSW from Howard University in 1974 and her BSW from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, in 1971.

Significant Achievements and Awards

Mildred Joyner is the first woman and African American to serve on the board of directors of DNB First (previously known as Downingtown National Bank), where she was appointed in 2004. She was a member of the board of Chester County Food Bank, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institutes SoulMates Advisory Board in Boston, MA and the Book Committee of NASW.  Mit served as the President and Owner of MCJ Consultants in West Chester, PA.

Joyner is the past President of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the sole accrediting body for baccalaureate and master social work programs in the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam. As President and Board Chair of CSWE, she served on the board of the International Association for Schools of Social Work (IASSW), and represented the United States social work education body internationally. 

Joyner received numerous awards in the fields of social work, gerontology, education, and leadership.  AGE-SW and BPD created the Mit Joyner Gerontology Leadership Award in her honor in 2005 for her leadership in the field of gerontology.  In March 2011, Joyner received the BPD Lifetime to Achievement Award.  She was recognized for her leadership and stewardship in 2011 by Living Beyond Breast Cancer, the Dr. Inabel Burns Lindsay Award in 2012. In 2013, Joyner was named a Social Work Pioneer by NASW. Most recently in October of 2014, Joyner was named the First William Culp lecturer by Abilene Christian University, School of Social Work in Abilene, Texas.

Joyner received the NASW's Pennsylvania Chapter/Brandywine Division’s Social Worker of the Year Award in 1997.  The award was given, in part, in recognition of work on behalf of advancing racial and social harmony.

Significant Publications

  • Gadling-Cole, Charnetta, Edmonds Crewe, Sandra and Joyner, Mildred C (2011).  Caregivers for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya: An Ecological Perspective.  London: Adonis & Abbey Publishers.
  • Sisneros, J., Stakeman, C., Joyner, M.C., & Schmitz (2008). Critical Multicultural Social Work. Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.
  • Joyner, M.C. & Dehope, E. (2006). Transforming the curriculum through the intergenerational lens. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 48(1-2), 127-137.  doi:10.1300/J083v48n01_09.
  • Mit has presented numerous invitational papers and lectures at universities and professional conferences throughout the world.

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.