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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Gary Bailey Photo
Gary Bailey

Gary Bailey, MSW, ACSW, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He received his BA from the Eliot Pearson School of Child Study at Tufts University in 1977 and his MSW from Boston University School of Social Work in 1979. He is currently an Associate Professor at Simmons College Graduate School of Social Work where he chairs the Dynamics of Racism and Oppression foundation sequence. He is a member of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Hartford Foundation Gero Education Initiative to infuse gerontological content into curriculum. Professor Bailey is the Chair of the Simmons College Black Administrators, Faculty and Staff Council (BAFAS); and Chairs the School of Social Work (SSW) Awards committee. He is a member of the President's Inaugural Committee.

He holds an appointment as an adjunct Assistant Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health. Professor Bailey is currently the Chairperson of the National Social Work Public Education Campaign and he is a member of the NASW Foundation Board of Directors.

He was the President of NASW from 2003 until 2005. He was the President-elect from 2002-2003. His tenure at NASW National has included serving as the NASW National 2nd Vice President 2000-2002 and as the Association’s Treasurer from 1995-1997. He was a member or the NASW Insurance Trust Board of Trustees. He was the President of the Massachusetts Chapter of NASW from 1993-1995.

Professor Bailey is a past president of the North American Region of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) Berne, Switzerland having served in that role from 2003 until 2006. He was elected Chair of the Policy, Advocacy and Representation Commission in August 2006 at the IFSW Executive Committee meeting in Munich Germany. He is also a member of the IFSW Task Force on Fees. He is a member of the board of the North American and Caribbean Association of Schools of Social Work representing the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE).

Professor Bailey is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. He was named Social Worker of the Year by both the National and Massachusetts NASW in 1998. He was made a Social Work Pioneer ( by NASW in 2005, making him the youngest individual to receive this honor, joining individuals such as Jane Adams, Whitney M. Young, and Simmons own Dr. Helen Reinherz.

Professor Bailey received the Boston University School of Social Work Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Social Work in 1995. He received the Wayne S Wright Advocacy Award from the Multicultural AIDS Coalition in 1997; the Congressman Gerry Studds Visibility A ward in 1996, and the Bayard Rustin Spirit Award from the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts in 1999.  He was recognized with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Connecticut in 2013. 

He has served on numerous Boards and Advisory groups including the Advisory committees for the Massachusetts Departments of Mental Health and Social Services. He chaired the AIDS Action Committee of Boston Board of Directors and was co-chair of the Children’s Hospital Community Advisory Committee. He was a member of the boards of directors at the Phillip Brooks House at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Maternity and Foundling Hospital Foundation, United Homes for Children, the Wang Center for the Performing Arts, and the Center for Family Connections.

He began his career at Family Service of Greater Boston in 1980 working in Services for Older People by providing casework and other services to at-risk elders and their families. He went on to hold numerous positions at Family Service until he left in 1994 to assume the position of Executive Director of Parents and Children’s Services in Boston.

Professor Bailey is highly sought after as a trainer and consultant on topics which include board development; international social work practice; elder and family housing program development; issues pertaining to diversity, social justice and human rights; and working with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) communities. He and his partner Richard McCarthy and their Cairn Terrier, Budd divide their time between their homes in Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts.


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 and 2022 Pioneers were inducted at the 2022 Annual Program and Luncheon. 

2022 Special Honoree