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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Grace Lebow Photo
Grace Lebow

Throughout her career, Grace Lebow has been committed to providing mental health services to older adults and their families. Ms. Lebow was instrumental in developing the NASW Register of Clinical Social Workers, a tool for identifying clinical social workers with specific practice specialties. This tool was a model for an instrument Ms. Lebow implemented to specifically identify care managers and geriatric social workers for the Aging Network Services, which she co-founded in 1982 with business partner Barbara Kane.

Aging NetWork Services provides both care management and counseling services for older people and their families separated by geography. Today, the network has more than 250 participants nationwide. Ms. Lebow and Ms. Kane are the authors of Coping With Your Difficult Older Parent: A Guide for Stressed-Out Children, published by Avon Books. Over the many years of Ms. Lebow's career, she has focused on providing resources and tools to consumers looking for answers. She has been a pioneer in care management with older people and providing mental health services to the aging.

Ms. Lebow received a Master's Degree in Social Work from Simmons College School of Social Work and a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Tufts University, Boston School of Occupational Therapy. She has worked as the Clinical Social Worker on a cancer research project based in New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; as Director of Social Work at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington; and as Coordinator of the first NASW Register of Clinical Social Workers. In 2002, Ms. Lebow received the Distinguished Career Award from Simmons College School of Social Work, and was nominated as an NASW Social Work Pioneer in 2004. She received the Knee/Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award in Health and Mental Health Practice from the NASW Foundation in 2004.

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.