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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Anne O. Freed
Anne O. Freed*

Anne O. Freed worked in the fields of child, adult, and geriatric mental health, family services, and child welfare in research, education, and international social work. She was an administrator and researcher in the United States and abroad. Over many years, she combined her interests in clinical social work, multicultural issues, social work education, and international affairs. Her interest in international affairs was fueled by Connecticut College when, in 1937, it sent her to the Geneva School of International Studies in Switzerland for a summer program.

In her professional life, she integrated her undergraduate background in sociology, political science, psychology, and history with her clinical social work training at Smith College School for Social Work. As a clinician, she purposely concentrated on the various age groups to avoid a too limited approach. Her first opportunity to combine research, clinical work, culture, government, and international affairs came in the War Relocation Authority, where she did research on Japanese culture and the psychosocial effects on Japanese-Americans evacuated from the West Coast during World War II She wrote several reports and studies at that time. Forty-two years later, she spent several semesters in Japan interviewing Japanese older women about their adaptation to their changing worlds. She published a book on this research in 1993.

She became well known for her clinical and supervision abilities in the several mental clinics in which she worked (Abington Hospital adult clinic, Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute Children's Unit, Judge Baker Guidance Center, and Massashusetts Mental Health Geriatric Unit). She combined teaching with practice as a field instructor for Bryn Mawr, Atlanta University, and Boston University Schools of Social Work. She became a member of the regular faculty at Boston University School of Social Work, and then at Smith College School for Social Work; the latter involved supervision of doctoral candidates at Judge Baker Guidance Center as well as teaching in the summer.

She taught Ego Psychology to Master's students at Boston University School for Social Work for many years, as well as a variety of courses in its Division of Continuing Education, and she chaired the B. U. Spring Institute for several years. When working with the aged as Social Work Coordinator in Massachusetts Mental Health Center, in 1972 she established and directed a unique Nursing Home Education Program funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. NIMH continued to fund her educational work with nursing homes through the Boston Society of Gerontologic Psychiatry, for which she eventually became President, the first social worker and women in that position. NIMH also funded the production of a book on mental health education in nursing homes which she and Dr. David Blau edited

NASW Social Work Pioneer - 1995

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.