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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Lucille Austin* ( -1977)

Professor Lucille Austin was a member of the faculty of the Columbia University School of Social Work for 36 years. She was recognized as one of the foremost social work educators of her time.

A native of Wisconsin, Mrs. Austin attended the University of Washington where she earned membership in Phi Beta Kappa as well as membership in the Honorary Sociology Society. She was a graduate of the New York School of Social Work, the Columbia University Graduate School of Social Work.

Her long teaching career was complimented by extensive practice at the Community Service Society of New York City over a period of 18 years. It was this dual commitment to practice and teaching that marked Austin as a memorable educator. Austin also taught in the casework sequence at the Smith College Graduate School of Social Work.

She wrote many articles on a variety of subjects relating to the practice of casework, supervision, and in the developing theories of treatment classification. Her abilities were well recognized because other graduate schools of social work frequently called upon her to present seminars on the role of supervision and the nature of the supervisory relationship for improving performance, both for students as well as caseworkers, to their field work agencies seminars.

The deans and the faculty of the Columbia University School of Social Work undertook a series of lectures entitled the Annual Lucille M. Austin Visiting Fellow Program, financed by contributions from colleagues and former students after her death in Scarsdale, New York in 1977. The lectures acknowledged her contributions to the social work profession as a scholar, practitioner, teacher, and friend.


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!  2020 & 2021 Pioneers will be inducted at the 2022 Annual Program and Luncheon. Full biographies and event details coming soon.