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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Abraham Lurie Photo
Abraham Lurie* (1917- )

Abraham Lurie was one of the great innovators in social work. His programs in psychiatry, healthcare, and discharge planning were known throughout the world. His substance of contributions to the resocialization of schizophrenics and to the application of group methods in healthcare settings were exemplary. Dr. Lurie not only dealt with basic research, i.e., the causes of mental illness, but also with regard to the socialization, resocialization, and rehabilitation of the mentally ill. He was an advocate par excellence innovating some of the best advocacy programs for mental health in the country. Dr. Lurie was a consummate social worker embodying the best in practice, research, management and program innovation.

Dr. Lurie began his social work career in 1939 when he was a social work supervisor in the New York City Department of Welfare. He served as a psychologist in the U.S. Air Force and as a social worker in Bellevue Hospital. From 1950-1972, he was the first Director of the Social Work Department at Hillside Hospital. During that time, he also was a consultant to the Rehabilitation Institute, the Newport Veterans Administration Hospital. He received his MSW from the Columbia University School of Social Work and his PhD from New York University. Dr. Lurie had extensive experience in social work practice, management and education. His publications numbered in the hundreds and include books, refereed articles, and chapters.

In 1972, he was made Director of the Department of Social Work at the Long Island Jewish Hillside Medical Center a merged facility between the Long Island-Jewish Hospital and Hillside Medical Center. From 1975-1982 he served as a consultant to the United States Public Health Service. He was a Professor at the Adelphi University School of Social Work from 1984-1988. During this time, he also was a consultant to the Nassau County Mental Health Association. He served as the Acting Director of the Division of Doctoral Studies at the School of Social Work. Dr. Lurie was on the staff of the State University of New York at Stony Brook School of Social Work.

Dr. Lurie won numerous awards including the Milton Wiley Award from the Federation. He was awarded the Israel Cummings Award as Social Worker of the Year, the Ida M. Cannon Award from the Society of Hospital Social Work Directors, and the Hy Weiner Award from the American Hospital Association. He was a member of the National Academy of Practice and has been on numerous editorial boards.

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.