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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Barbara W. White Photo
Barbara W. White*

Barbara W. White was President of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) from July 1, 1991 until June 30, 1992. She previously was Vice President of NASW, and Chaired the National Program Committee, the Competence Certification Board, and the first National Conference on Minority Issues. Prior to becoming Dean of the University of Texas-Austin School of Social Work, she served as an Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Social Work Degree Program at Florida State University School of Social Work.

She served as the Florida Chapter's President and was named Social Worker of the Year by the Florida Chapter in 1982. In 1988, she was chosen to participate in a Fulbright-sponsored project on Women's Issues in India. She received the Florida State University's outstanding Teacher Award in 1986, and Professor of the Year by Florida State social work students in 1989.

She wrote two books: Color in a White Society and Women in Power and Change, and served on numerous editorial boards. She held a Doctorate Degree in Political Science and a Master's Degree in Social Work, both from Florida State University. After moving to the Texas-Austin School of Social Work, she was inducted into the African American Women's Hall of Fame.

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.