News Releases

Folks sitting and looking at newspapers, phones, and tablets

NASW Foundation celebrates 25th Anniversary with Washington D.C. Cosmos Club event

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF) on Nov. 1-2 will commemorate the 25th Anniversary of its NASW Social Work Pioneers® program with a celebration featuring some of the most influential social workers in the nation, including 104-year-old Catherine G. Williams, former deputy commissioner of the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

During the Pioneers 25th Anniversary Celebration and 15th Annual Program and Luncheon, NASWF will induct Williams and 25 other social workers into the Pioneers program, which was created to honor social workers who have contributed to the evolution and enrichment of the profession.

"For 25 years, NASW has honored Social Work Pioneers who are a credit to the profession," said Bob Arnold, director of the NASW Foundation. "Their collective contributions to social work are reflected in the creation of numerous human services programs and government policies that have improved the lives of people from all walks of society, including children who are at-risk, veterans, older adults and people living with mental illnesses. They are truly role models for future generations of social workers."

This program was conceived by two outstanding, visionary social workers—Ruth Knee and Mark Battle—who felt the contributions of social workers needed to be preserved.

Ms. Williams worked for the Iowa Department of Human Services for more than 30 years and was the highest ranking African American woman for the largest agency in Iowa state government.

In addition to Ms. Williams, the other inductees include:

Katharine “Kathy” Byers, a founding member of what is now Influencing Social Policy (ISP), created to increase social workers influence on policy.

Ira C. Colby. Colby advocated on social justice issues across the country including expanding public resources for rural and small communities. 

Claudia Coulton, who authored NASW’s first definitive conceptual and practical blueprint for medical social work quality assurance. It is widely used to guide what became increasingly important demands for accountability.

Michael Daley, best known for his advocacy in favor of BSW education and his contributions to the field of rural social work.

Wanda Ellingson. She nearly single-handedly developed the University of Denver distance education, Masters’ in Social Work program to meet the needs of rural and multi-ethnic communities, with special emphasis on local Native American communities.

Teresa (Terrie) A. Fritz, who launched the Center for Social Work in Healthcare at the University of Oklahoma Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work and provided extensive leadership in policy development for Medicaid services in Oklahoma. 

Jean Greenberg, a champion for patients’ rights, voter registration, and the assessment of social work licensure.

John D. Herron, a clinician, teacher, researcher and an administrator who has spent 45 years in the treatment and study of schizophrenia.

Richard L. Jones has served in major leadership roles in the nonprofit sector across the country. He was the first African American President and CEO of the Center for Families and Children in Cleveland.

Mitchell Kahn oversaw the organization of several hundred tenant associations and dozens of municipal rent control campaigns in New Jersey during the past four decades.   

Rosalie Kane, who has been working for nearly 50 years on behalf of improving long-term care (LTC) services and supports for persons with disabilities living in home and community-based settings as well as nursing homes. 

Rebecca Alicia Lopez is a passionate advocate for and expert on ethnic minority populations, immigration policy reform, and cultural belief system understanding. (Honored posthumously)

Maria Maltby Love, who founded the first comprehensive day care center in the United States, The Fitch Creche, in Buffalo, New York in 1881, which she directed for more than 50 years. (Honored posthumously).

Susan Mankita, who founded the AOL Social Work Forum in 1995 and provided technology training to NASW and the Association of Social Work Boards during the early days of the Internet.

Dr. Ruth G. McRoy helped shape adoption, including transracial, interracial, open, special needs, and international adoptions.

Shirley Otis-Green, ACSW, MA, LCSW, whose efforts and expertise in palliative care led to a co-editorship on the first major textbook on palliative social work published in 2011 by Oxford University Press.

Elaine Pinderhughes, who authored the 1989 textbook, Understanding Race, Ethnicity and Power: The Key to Efficiency in Clinical Practice.

Claudia Rappaport directed programs and agencies, including Hospice of Galveston County, LEAP (Literacy, Education and Parenting, HAND (Help After Neonatal Death) and the Gulf Coast Coalition for the Prevention of Child Abuse. 

George Taliaferro helped integrate the campus of Indiana University in the 1950s.  He was the first black football player drafted into the National Football League and is cited with founding the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization in Bloomington, Indiana in 1973. (Honored posthumously).

Toshio Tatara was the first social worker to promote elder abuse awareness nationally and internationally. (Honored posthumously).

Patrick Tyrrell led the successful effort to secure multilevel licensing in New Mexico, including a requirement for cultural CEU’s for renewal in order to expand the reach of culturally competent practices in New Mexico. (Honored posthumously).

(Willie) Bo Walker has been a leader of the social work profession at the state and national levels and has mentored countless social workers in leadership development. 

Julia M. Watkins has spent her professional career committed to advancing social work education and the profession on the national and international levels. 

Kathryn Wehrmann, current NASW president, provided leadership to update child welfare services in Romania and has served as a leader of the profession nationally and internationally. 

Kentucky State Representative Susan Westrom who was the primary sponsor of major juvenile justice legislation and the regulation of assisted living facilities. 

The celebration will be held at the historic Cosmos Club, a 141-year-old private social club in Washington, D.C., for those distinguished in science, literature, the arts, a learned profession or public service. Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will be the afternoon keynote speaker on Nov. 2.  

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.

The National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF) is a charitable organization created to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through the advancement of social work practice.