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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Richard W. Friedman, MSW
Richard W. Friedman

Pioneering Contributions

Richard W. Friedman, MSW, is a social worker who committed his career to working in juvenile justice. There was a time when social workers were more involved in these areas to address some of the neediest citizens in our communities. This changed as social workers became more focused on clinical areas and social service agencies.  A major exception to this was Friedman. He has always been concerned about the forgotten children who end up in the Juvenile Justice System. He started as frontline worker, moved to supervisor and Director of Services and gradually became one of the leading experts on juvenile justice issues in Baltimore City, the State of Maryland, and the United States. He focused on education, research, policy planning and development of services to children and youth served by the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

As with a natural progression he moved more to consultation, teaching, and advocacy to make a difference in the lives of our children and the communities in which they lived. He always remembered that the delinquent child of today was the dependent, neglected, and abused child of the past, and could be the criminal of tomorrow. Friedman demonstrated the qualities of a true pioneer in his concern for children and the relationships he developed with Mayors, Governors, Judges, Legislators, Police, Social Service Agencies, and educational institutions. He made a difference as a social work leader.

Career Highlights

Friedman’s interest in criminal justice began in undergraduate school at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) where he majored in political science and minored in criminology. His extensive career in juvenile justice and criminal justice spanned in excess of four decades. After graduating from College Park in 1962, he began his career as a juvenile probation officer for the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City (at the time courts employed their own staff to work with youth on probation).

He left for a brief stint as a Graduate Assistant in criminology for Dr. Peter Lejins at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Lejins was past President of the American Correctional Association and Professor of Criminology. In early 1964, he returned to the Baltimore City juvenile probation office as a Senior Probation Officer. While continuing his work as a probation officer, he began matriculating at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. He left the Court in 1966 to become a full time student receiving a Masters in Social Work degree in 1967.

During the late 1960s much change occurred in the juvenile justice system, most notably when the legislature created the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS), which became operational in 1967, taking over the statewide probation services formerly operated by the courts. Friedman worked for three years as a caseworker at the Maryland Children Center, a diagnostic detention center for delinquents and then as its first Director of Clinical Services. These early years provided opportunities for serving in various program development capacities (e.g., intake, probation, and aftercare) with the newly created DJS, and it sealed his interest and commitment to improving the juvenile justice system for vulnerable at-risk youth. He moved to the administrative office of DJS as a Program Coordinator where he remained until 1971. He co-authored position papers on Intake, probation, after care, and use of clinical services for court staff.

During the 1970s, Friedman worked on developing policies, programs, and standards for the American Correctional Association (ACA), the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), and the American Bar Association (ABA). For two years as Assistant Director of the Correctional Standards Project for the ACA he participated in developing written standards for probation services, jails and prisons. Subsequently, he worked in the U.S. Department of Justice, Washington D.C. as consultant and staff member of the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals. He then joined the American Bar Association as Assistant Director of the Commission on Correctional Services and Facilities, Correctional Law Resource Center, creating an ombudsman services in prisons and jails around the country.

In 1974, Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer appointed Friedman as Director of the Mayor's Coordinating Council on Criminal Justice where he served until 1979. Governor Harry R. Hughes appointed him Executive Director of the Governor's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, where he served for seven years. Completing his term with Governor Hughes led to a series of consultant jobs with the Institute of Criminal Justice and Criminology, University of Maryland at College Park, Maryland State Department of Education, Office of Correctional Education, and the Maryland Task Force on Community Based Crime Prevention, National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

In 1989, Friedman returned to working in juvenile justice, the area he loved the most, first as Director of the Governor's Juvenile Justice Advisory Council (JJAC) and Juvenile Justice Specialist, Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention where he served for six years. During his tenure at JJAC he chaired an interagency collaboration focusing on the mental health of youth in the juvenile justice system. In national competition, Maryland was selected, along with four other states, to participate in conferences at the Carter Center in Atlanta and Washington D.C. focusing on mental health issues in the juvenile justice system.

From 1997-1999, he worked as a Program Manager with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in Washington D.C. for the Drug Free Communities Support Program, a collaboration with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. During this same period, he served as a consultant to the University of Maryland Center for Applied Policy Studies (UMCAPS). In late 1999, he established RWF Consulting, Inc., a private consulting firm in juvenile justice and child welfare. One of his major contracts was with the Annie E. Casey Foundation as a Site Coordinator of the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative in Baltimore City where he served until retiring in January 2006.

Throughout his career, Friedman has contributed to community activities as a volunteer. Among others, he served as a Board Member and President of the Maryland Conference of Social Concern; Board Member and Secretary of the ACLU of Maryland; Board Member and Vice Chair of Partnership for Learning, Inc.; a member of the Foster Care Review Board; Board Member and Chair of Harbor City Services; and member of the University of Maryland School of Social Work Board of Advisors. For 10 years he served on the Awards Committee for The Sun Police Officer of the Year program. In his retirement, he served as the Senior Policy Advisor for the Campaign for Youth Justice, a juvenile justice advocacy organization in Washington D.C. 

He has been cited for his “exceptional commitment to advancing the School of Social Work and its mission”. Friedman's interest in juvenile justice and his work with the School of Social Work has resulted in juvenile justice work being brought back into social work, resulting in courses, field placements, and an array of grants from Maryland Department of Juvenile Service, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Biographic Data

Friedman was born on October 25, 1940 in Washington D.C. He attended Montgomery Blair High School, class of 1958 and was the #1 ranked tennis player at school in his senior year. He is married to Kathleen O’Ferrall Friedman; has two daughters and five grandchildren. He is a lifelong baseball fan, tennis enthusiast, and retired flute player.

Significant Achievements and Awards

  • 1979Social Worker of the Year, Alumni Association, University of Maryland School of Social Work
  • 2009Emeritus Award, (first recipient) University of Maryland School of Social Work
  • 2019Dean’s Medal, University of Maryland School of Social Work

Significant Publications

  • 1974Friedman Richard, “Dilemmas of Correctional Law and Rehabilitation”, American Correctional Association
  • 1984Friedman, Richard and Breed, Allen F, Baltimore City Jail: A Technical Assistance Report
  • 1987Friedman, Richard, Norris, Donald and Shandy, Stephan, “Law Enforcement Needs in Calvert County to the year 2000, University of Maryland
  • 1989Jensena, Corrine and Friedman, Richard, “Criminal Justice and the Deaf’, The Voice, Volume 4, No. 6-7

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.