NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Mary Catherine Jennings Holden
(1916 - 2012)
Mary Catherine Jennings Holden was the first social welfare attaché in the history of the United States Department of State. In this position, she was posted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for twelve years.
Mary Catherine worked in the international program of the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW, renamed the Department of Health and Human Services) prior to moving to Brazil, and after her tour returned to the Department. She had previously worked for the Girl Scouts of America in New York City and as a teacher in Parkersburg, West Virginia. She was a world traveler in her career as well as for her personal enjoyment. She was a passenger on the first voyage of the RMS Queen Mary following her rehab from a troop ship in World War II.
She was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and was a graduate of Marietta College. She received her MSW from the National Catholic School of Social Work. She was an active member of NASW as well as the International Council of Social Work. She attended several ICSW conferences. She was also involved in many other organization which promoted education and human rights.