NASW Foundation Names 21 New Pioneers

By Paul R. Pace

The NASW Foundation has announced 21 newly elected NASW Social Work Pioneers®. Those who have made significant contributions to the profession and to the betterment of society make up the latest round of inductees. Being named a Social Work Pioneer is one of the profession’s highest honors. New Pioneers will be inducted at the Annual Pioneer Program and Luncheon.

group of adults pose for the camera

Social Work Pioneers pose for a group photo at a past induction ceremony hosted by the NASW Foundation. 

The Newest Inductees

Bruce Donald Buchanan, MSW, (1954-2020) was a former president and chief executive officer for Compass Clinical Associates, PLLC. He had a 45-year career in clinical social work and administration before his death. 

Philip Davis, LLB, (1876-1951) was nominated because he championed the needs of immigrant children and families as a teacher, social worker, settlement house worker, industrial labor organizer, vocational bureau founder, and author. 

Joel Fisher, DSW, MSW, is known for his excellence as an educator, researcher, and advocate for social justice as a professor at the University of Hawaii School of Social Work. His pioneering contributions came from his academic research to inform the selection of social work interventions, now called evidence-based practice. 

Maeda Galinsky, PhD, MSW , (1934-2019) was a social work professor who made significant contributions to social work research, education, and practice in the areas of group work, intervention research, and doctoral education during her career that spanned more than 50 years. 

Diana Richmond Garland, PhD, MSSW, (1950-2015) was a social work dean, educator, visionary, prolific author, and pioneer in the ethical integration of faith and social work. Her theories and publications forged ethical connections between social work professionals and faith-based congregations and organizations. 

Hali Hansuli Giessler, MA, ACSW , is a NASW Charter member. As a visionary leader, he has dedicated his life promoting innovative ideas for individual and societal justice by pioneering ways to eradicate service inequities based on race. In 1973, he co-founded the Center for Urban Education, an independent nonprofit corporation, to teach sensitivity to students, teachers, and other networks in Detroit. 

Richard Hoefer, PhD, MSW, has spent his career and used his teaching, research, and advocacy skills to enhance social work’s voice in policymaking through the application of political science interest group theory and his own research to measure interest group effectiveness. 

John “Jay” Kenney, PhD, MSW, MBA, has had a long career in medical social work, research, health policy and administration for the Montgomery County, Md., where he developed groundbreaking programs and has shaped and left a legacy of outstanding award winning innovative, accessible, and integrated programs and policies for older adults and individuals with disabilities. 

Mary Jo Monahan, MSW, continues to work tirelessly as a clinical social worker, educator, administrator, and advocate to improve the regulation of the profession during her 45-plus year career. She co-chaired the Association of Social Work Boards task force that developed the Model Social Work Practice Act, which provides guidance to legislatures and regulatory boards about best practices 
in social work regulation. 

Alicia Najera, MSW, (1961-2021) was a former mental health lead provider with the farm worker clinic Salud Para La Gente in Watsonville, Calif. She was a compassionate and passionate social worker, who championed equity, diversity, and innovation and helped integrate mental health services into primary care services in Santa Cruz County, Calif. For thirty-five years, she was a bilingual Latina trailblazer providing social work services to the most vulnerable communities of farm 
workers and their families 
in Santa Cruz County. 

Richard Kekumuikawaiokeola Paglinawan, MSW, (1940-2018) and his wife Lynette Kahekiu Kaopuiki Paglinawan, MSW, are sharing their NASW Pioneer honor because of their collaboration practicing, motivating, and training social workers and other practitioners to use ho’oponopono, an indigenous conflict resolution model and healing practice to restore harmony within Native Hawaiian families. 

Jean Kathleen Quam, PhD, MSW, has impacted the social work profession as an educator by supporting and advocating for the needs of social work students and as a social work leader by assisting and serving on the boards and committees of multiple social work organizations. During her 10-year tenure as dean at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development, Quam focused on three main priorities: excellence in research, innovation and technology, and diversity and globalization. 

Marlene Anita Saunders, DSW, MSW, has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the social work profession as an educator and community organizer who dedicated her career to advocacy and grassroots community engagement, especially to Black and Brown communities. 

Vicki L. Shepard, MSSW, ACSW, MPA, has made significant contributions to health, social services and aging on a local, state, and federal level, including serving in political capacities where she built alliances with both Democrats and Republicans. She has worked in government and the private sector, and has been an advocate for social justice, including increasing services to minority populations, 
the underserved and 
rural America. 

Shulamith Lala Ashenberg Straussner, PhD, MSW, is best known for leading the charge to prepare social workers to work in the field of substance abuse and is an internationally recognized authority on clinical approaches to substance abuse at the New York University Silver School of Social Work. 

Marlene Wong, PhD, MSW , has made groundbreaking and lasting contributions to disaster recovery, trauma, and mental health, impacting the lives of thousands of children nationally and internationally. She is often the first national expert contacted by federal, state and local authorities after school violence/natural disaster/terrorism, and she has developed evidence-based trauma interventions for school-age children. 

Reeta Wolfsohn, MSW , has dedicated almost 20 years to her groundbreaking work in financial social work, for which she developed a conceptual practice model in this area and trained large numbers of practitioners in its application with clients. 

Richard Woodrow, DSW, MSW, has developed and facilitated transformative organizational change throughout his long career in social work departments, schools of social work, larger academic medical teaching institutions, universities, and health settings. He mentored social workers to take on organizational obstacles with those in authority. Always maintaining his identity as a social worker, he used his leadership to empower others to influence up, across and down systems. 

John Yankey , PhD, MSW , is best known for his contributions as a social work educator, collaborative leader, visionary, catalyst, mentor, and sought-after conference speaker and consultant in management and organizational effectiveness for public and nonprofit organizations. 

Jeffrey Scott Yarvis, PhD, MSW, MEd, is a leader, clinician, educator, and author. Among his accomplishments, while serving in the U.S. Army, Yarvis expressed strong advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community when serving openly was prohibited. This helped lead to the abolishment of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy.

This important initiative has included telling compelling stories about the diverse individuals and families who benefit from the services professional social workers provide. These stories have been communicated in magazine and newspaper ads, in materials sent to journalists across the country, through myriad partner organizations, and on radio and TV programs.

cover of February - March 2022 magazine

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