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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Leon Ginsberg Photo
Leon Ginsberg

Throughout his career, Dr. Leon Ginsberg has been a leader in social work education and public service, especially child welfare, rural social services, and international social work. Dr. Ginsberg has a distinguished career in building and administering social work programs. His contributions to curriculum include not only program and course development (including curriculum on bioterrorism), but many works that have been used as essential texts, especially in policy, management, and rural social services.

In recognition of his contributions to the profession, he received the Chauncey Alexander Award from the National Network of Social Work Managers and was an original member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. He is a prolific author, his major contribution being Social Work in Rural Communities. He has been a leader and a mentor to many social workers, and his many contributions have spread across fields and methods of social work practice. Dr. Ginsberg received his MSW Degree from Tulane University in 1959 and his PhD in political science in 1966.

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.