News Releases

three people reading news

Dr. Dorothy I. Height Receives NASW Lifetime Achievement Award

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is pleased to honor Dr. Dorothy I. Height with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her extraordinary contributions to civil rights and social justice for nearly half a century. Dr. Height is a renowned civil rights leader and has been a vital force in the struggle for human rights and equality.

Dr. Height’s influence can be seen in nearly every major civil rights effort over the past 40 years. She has been a dedicated leader, advocating for equality and justice for women, especially women of color. A proud social worker, Dr. Height earned her graduate degree at the New York School of Social Work and began her career as a caseworker in the New York Welfare Department.

“Dr. Height is a civil rights icon whose tireless effort on behalf of others exemplifies the social work commitment to social justice and advocacy,” says Dr. Elizabeth Clark, executive director of NASW.

Throughout her career, Dr. Height held several leadership positions with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), where she led efforts toward racial justice resulting in the integration of YWCA facilities nationwide. She also served as president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc for 11 years and is the longest-serving president of the Sorority to date. Currently, Dr. Height presides as Chair and President Emerita of the National Council of Negro Women, a position she has held for more than 40 years.

The scope of Dr. Height’s many accomplishments is vast and has earned her international recognition. In 1989, President Ronald Reagan presented her with the Citizens’ Medal Award and in 1997 President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2004, President George W. Bush awarded her with the Congressional Gold Medal and she was inducted into the Democracy Hall of Fame International. She has received 36 honorary doctorates and is highly regarded internationally for her work in India and South Africa.

At age 97, Dr. Height remains an active force in the advancement of social justice, confronting some of today’s most important issues. In 2008, the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act, the most comprehensive piece of federal legislation ever created to address the challenges facing the social work profession, was introduced. Dr. Height is also the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), which is the largest civil rights coalition in the US.

Dr. Height is an inspirational leader whose legacy will be one of strength, determination and great achievement for future social work leaders to follow. NASW is proud to award Dr. Dorothy I. Height with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Dorothy I. Height passed on April 20.  Her final tribute at the Washington National Cathedral included a eulogy by President Barack Obama. 

# # #

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with 132,000 members. 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.