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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George Edmund Haynes
George Edmund Haynes* (1880-1960)

George Edmund Haynes was a social worker, educator, and Co-Founder and first Executive Director of the National Urban League. He was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he earned a BA Degree. In 1904, he received an MA Degree from Yale University. While studying at the University of Chicago during the summers of 1906 and 1907, Dr. Haynes became interested in social problems affecting Black migrants from the South. This interest led him to the New York School of Philanthropy, from which he graduated in 1910. Two years later he received a PhD from Columbia University. Columbia University Press published his doctoral dissertation, The Negro at Work in New York City.

Within this period, he also involved himself in the activities of the American Association for the Protection of Colored Women; the Committee for Improving the Industrial Conditions of Negroes in New York; and the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes. He was instrumental in merging these groups into one organization, named the National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes (NLUCAN), now known as the National Urban League. He served as its Executive Director from 1911-1918.

Earlier, while still a graduate student, he had been Secretary of the Colored Men’s Department of the International Committee of the YMCA, during which time he visited black colleges and encouraged students to achieve scholastic excellence, and to help black colleges set high academic standards. He established the Association of Negro Colleges and Secondary Schools, and served that organization as Secretary from 1910-1918. He also helped the New York School of Philanthropy and NLUCAN in collaborative planning that led to the establishment of the first social work training center for black graduate students at Fisk, and he directed that center from 1910-1918.

He supervised field placements of League fellows at the New York School and was Professor of Economics and Sociology at Fisk. On leave from Fisk from 1918-1921, he served as Director of Negro Economics in the United States Department of Labor. As a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor, he was involved in matters of racial conflict in employment, housing, and recreation. He continued his earlier studies of exclusion of black workers from certain trade unions, interracial conditions in the workplace, and child labor. These studies resulted in numerous scholarly works. One of the most significant of these was The Negro at Work During the World War and During Reconstruction. The work’s widespread and profound impact resulted in his appointment as a member of the President’s Unemployment Conference in 1921.

In 1930 he did a survey of the work of the YMCA in South Africa, and in 1947, he conducted a similar study of the organization’s activities in other African nations. These efforts resulted in his being chosen as Consultant on Africa by the World Committee of YMCAs. His book, Trend of the Races (1922), reflected his belief in the union of all people. For the last nine years of his life, he taught at the City College of New York, and served as an Officer of the American Committee on Africa. Dr. Haynes died in New York City in 1960.

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.