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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Patricia Martin-O’Meally (1946- )

Pioneering Contributions

Patricia Martin O’Meally has had a distinguished career as a direct-service provider, union organizer, tenant and mental health advocate in the Washington, D.C. area since the 1970s.  She has been a groundbreaking organizer of community-based programs to serve seriously mentally ill individuals, and established critically needed opportunities for deinstitutionalized persons from the federal St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

In 1973, as a Charter Member of the Landlord and Tenant Commission of Prince George’s County Maryland, Martin-O’Meally was a Tenant Advocate, who helped tenants:

  1. with Rent Control legislation and Landlord/Tenant adjudication hearings;
  2. to establish and incorporate tenant associations; and,
  3. to develop collaborative efforts with civic associations and Landlords.  

In addition, she addressed issues related to improving apartment living standards, condominium conversions, lobbying on the local, state, and national level for tenant rights, and the development of a federation for tenant associations. For her efforts at the county-level, she was appointed by Governor Blair Lee to serve on the Governor’s Landlord Tenant Laws Study Commission for the State of Maryland beginning in1978, and reappointed over several administrations serving until 1992.

As President of the Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital Social Work Association, Martin-O'Meally helped to establish the organization as a voting member of NASW D.C. Chapter’s Executive Board. As an officer of the Association, she pioneered the establishment of a Social Worker of the Year Award. It was during her 30-year tenure at Saint Elizabeths that Martin-O’Meally worked to establish the social work bargaining unit, which allowed social workers to have a seat at the table equal with other mental healthcare providers during contract negotiations. 

Martin O’Meally was Founder and Executive Director of the Life Studies Institute (LSI). Established in 1990, LSI created grassroots programs in the Washington, D.C. community meant to reduce risk of substance abuse, and mentor teens, and youth through community programs, and schools. One of LSI’s programs, the Aunts and Uncles Mentoring Program, brought mental health professionals, educators, and youth together for tailored workshops, and mentoring opportunities during a six-week training program several times a year. The program grew in scope, becoming an after-school tutoring and mentoring program that eventually received support through grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the D.C. Public Schools.

Career Highlights 

Martin-O’Meally served as a Geriatric Case Worker from 1968-1973. During that time a successful social work demonstration program was launched that resulted in Family and Child Services of D.C., being awarded the Model Cities’ Senior Citizens Program grant. She has also worked as a consultant for numerous organizations, including Washington, D.C.’s Citizens Review Panel on Child Abuse and Neglect, the Federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, the Arlington Virginia County Board of Education, the Washington, D.C. Fire Department, Friendship House, and many others. From 1973-1997 she held clinical social work and supervisory positions at St. Elizabeths Hospital.  

Martin-O’Meally was a Social Work Training Specialist for the D.C. Commission on Mental Health Services from 1997-2000, developing initiatives to comply with accrediting bodies; directing grants, in-service, and continuing education programs; and providing clinical, and program consultation to community agencies. She developed and coordinated the Court Ordered Dixon Training Initiative to prepare the in-patient staff to refocus the work effort toward community-based patient services.

Martin-O’Meally served as Director of Staff Development and Training for the D.C. Community Services Administration (CSA) from 2000-2004. She helped provide staff development and training opportunities for the Department of Mental Health staff and other community-based caregivers to the mentally ill. She also provided leadership for the CSA Training Division and served the CSA and Department of Mental Health, as a consultant in many areas of concern. She has been an Adjunct Professor of Social Work at Howard University School of Social Work since 1993. Martin-O’Meally has also worked closely with the Metro D.C. Chapter of NASW where she has held elected and committee positions. She now serves on the NASW Social Work Pioneer Annual Program Committee. 

Biographic Data

Martin-O’Meally received her MSW Degree in 1979 from Howard University’s School of Social Work in Washington, D.C. She received her BA in Sociology from Virginia Union University in 1968. Martin-O’Meally participated in post-graduate studies in Public Administration at the University of Southern California, D.C. campus in 1985. She received a Certificate in Public Management from the George Washington University in 1999.

Significant Achievements and Awards

  • 2014-2016: Member – Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial MSW Scholarship Awards Panel.
  • 2004-2008: Board Member, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) - D.C.
  • 1997: Theodore Hagans finalist as Creative Employee of the Year.
  • 1992-1996: Member of the Board of Directors for CAPACCESS (Internet provider).
  • 1992-1994: Appointed as Commissioner to the Governor’s Landlord/Tenant Commission - Maryland.
  • 1988-1993: Outstanding Service as President - Virginia Union University Alumni.
  • 1978-1992: Commissioner, Governor’s Law Study Commission for the State of Maryland.
  • 1990-1991: Outstanding service as President - Saint Elizabeth's Hospital/CMHS Medical Society.
  • 1986: St Elizabeths Hospital Social Worker of the Year.
  • 1982-1986: President Saint Elizabeths Hospital Social Work Association.
  • 1973-1979: Commissioner, Prince George’s County Landlord Tenant Commission.

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.