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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Barbara A. Mikulski
Barbara A. Mikulski

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski received her MSW from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Senator Mikulski began her political career by organizing neighbors to stop construction of a 16-lane highway through the historic Fells Point area of Baltimore. This highway not only threatened Fells Point, but also would have cut through the first black home ownership neighborhood in the city and would have prevented the successful development of the Harbor Area. Barbara Mikulski became known as the street fighter who beat the highway. This led to a seat on the Baltimore City Council which then led to the United States House of Representatives, followed by the United States Senate.

Senator Mikulski was elected to the Senate in 1986. She was the first Democratic woman to hold a Senate seat not previously held by her husband; the first Democratic woman to serve in both houses of Congress; and the first woman to win a statewide election in Maryland. Her pioneering efforts and her advocacy on behalf of women candidates helped elect at least five new Democratic women to the United States Senate, and made her the unofficial "Dean of the Senate Women."

In 1994, Senator Mikulski was unanimously elected as Secretary of the Democratic Conference for the 104th Congress, the first woman to be elected to a Democratic leadership position in the Senate. She was reelected again in 1996 for the 105th Congress and continued to work with the leadership to form the Democratic agenda in the Senate. In October 1996. Senator Mikulski celebrated her 25 years of public service by sponsoring a Day of Volunteerism. More than 300 volunteers from across Maryland helped create a computer learning center at Brehm’s Lane Elementary School and removed trash and debris from the Armistead Creek and the Herring Run Stream.

Senator Mikulski is recognized as a national leader on the issue of women’s health care, as one of the originators of the National Service concept, as a champion for the rights of working people, and as an aggressive advocate for jobs for Maryland. From potholes to public education, she solved the problems of the people who come to her. She is proud to have served as the Senator from Maryland and for Maryland. From city activist to United States Senator, she never changed the view that all politics and policy is local and that her job was to serve the people in their day-to-day needs, as well as prepare this country for the future. She served in the U.S. Senate from January 3, 1987 until until January 3, 2017.

NASW Social Work Pioneer - 1997

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.