NASW Foundation News

New NASW Social Work Pioneers® Named

The NASW Foundation is pleased to announce the latest inductees into its NASW Social Work Pioneers®  program. The newest Pioneers are recognized for a range of pioneering contributions including feminist activism, fighting for LGBT rights, promoting civil and human rights, advocacy for older adults, and substance abuse treatment. Each of these individuals have made important, and lasting, contributions to the social work profession and helped shape social policies that benefit individuals, families, and communities.


The NASW Social Work Pioneers® Program was created to honor members of the social work profession who have contributed to the evolution and enrichment of the profession. It identifies and recognized individuals whose unique dedication, commitment, and determination have improved social and human conditions. 


Pioneers are role models for future generations of social workers. Their contributions are reflected in every aspect of the profession, as well as in the establishment of social policies and human services programs. They have accomplished this through practice, teaching, writing, research, program development, administration, advocacy, legislation, and election to public office. Being elected by one’s peers as a Pioneer is one of the profession’s highest honors.  


New NASW Social Work Pioneers® inductees include:


J. Anetzberger (Ohio) - Dr. J. Anetzberger has worked in the field of aging for more than 35 years as a social worker, administrator, researcher, and advocate. Her special area of interest is elder abuse and related interventions, about which she conducted pioneering investigations on elder abuse perpetrators along with diversity issues. She has received numerous national awards for her pioneering work in the field of elder abuse and has been an invited expert by federal, state, and local government at numerous forums on elder abuse. Dr. Anetzberger also is an internationally-recognized author and presenter, and is considered among the foremost social work experts in the field of aging and elder abuse. 


Fran Danis (Texas) – Dr. Fran Danis is a feminist-activist whose research focuses on violence against women. A founder of one of the first shelters for domestic violence survivors and rape crisis programs in Texas, her research today continues to address gender justice issues. She has taught courses at various universities on topics ranging from domestic violence to nonprofit management, always with an interest in how social workers can be most effective in helping those who have survived violence. 


Terry DeCrescenzo (California) – Teresa DeCrescenzo has worked for more than 40 years to protect lesbian and gay children who have been abused and abandoned by their families. She worked in the Los Angeles area to provide services to children who wound up on the street in the Los Angeles area and advocated for their safety. This included children with HIV who were shunned by their communities. Today, she continues her work with transgender children and LGBT immigrants. 


Peter J. Delany (Maryland) – During RADM Dr. Peter J. Delany’s civilian and uniformed services career, spanning more than 32 years, his pioneering work as a leader and expert in the fields of substance abuse treatment, health services research, policy, and disaster mental health response, established foundations and support for social work research, and directly affected the behavioral health of the American public. Prior to joining the faculty as an Associate Professor in the College of Health & Human Services, Dr. Delany served as an Assistant Surgeon General in the United States Public Health Service, most recently as a Senior Advisor in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, where he worked on research and policies related to the opioid crisis. 


Doreen Elliott (Texas) – Dr. Doreen Elliott made contributions to the field of international social work over the course of her 38-year career. She served as one of the inaugural members of the Katherine A. Kendall Institute of International Social Work Education Advisory Board. Dr. Elliott helped to establish a dual-degree doctoral program with a school in Mexico at the University of Texas at Arlington. 


Nathan Linsk (Illinois) – Dr. Nathan Linsk has spent his career leading the global effort to combat HIV/AIDS in the United States, Africa, and Eastern Europe. His work takes place on the policy, treatment, ethical, and educational levels to better the lives of the sick and the people who love and take care of them. Dr. Linsk helped to develop the Journal of HIV/AIDS and Social Services, and founded various other organizations in his community in Illinois and across the country that focus on HIV/AIDS and gay rights. 


David P. Moxley (Oklahoma) – Dr. David P. Moxley has spent his career advocating for those with diminished civil, social, and human rights, specifically in the disabled community. He has sought to enact collaboration between communities and academia, and brought both together, while teaching at the University of Oklahoma, Wayne State University, and now at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Dr. Moxley has reached groups in high need communities in the United States and in other countries, emphasizing social innovation, the fulfillment of basic needs, and the realization of opportunity.  


Joan Upshaw (1929-2010, Kansas) – Joan Upshaw was a social work entrepreneur, ahead of her time, who developed Social Work p.r.n., a social work staffing agency. This helped employers by offering just-in-time staffing resources and social workers with greater work flexibility and job opportunities. Her vision led to a business model that supported work-life balance and enabled social workers to work across fields of practice. She also inspired and aided the social work entrepreneurial intentions of others. 


Vicki Gardine Williams (Tennessee) – Professor Vicki Gardine Williams’ began her career in Head Start where she developed, and sustained throughout her career, an interest in black children adoptions. This included educating surrounding communities on diversity issues through curriculum and program development, research, consultation, and training, while at the same time, developing policies to ensure black children in foster care had opportunities to be raised with families, regardless of their racial background, to lessen the likelihood of risk factors of long-term foster care. She was a moving force on the NASW Tennessee Chapter Board of Directors and worked with the legislature to pass multi-level social work licensure, including licensure for baccalaureate social workers, which had never been attempted in the history of the state. 


Sandra Malpica Chaiken (New York) – Sandra Malpica Chaiken has been a leader, innovator, and program developer in public hospitals and long-term care facilities during her 40 years as a medical social worker and social work director.  During her tenure at Jacobi Medical Center and North Central Bronx Hospital, as the Associate Director of Social Work for Adult Services, and primarily as the Director, she worked collaboratively to create many signature programs including: discharge planning as a clinical practice; computerized clinical social work documentation; emergency preparedness and the Social Work Disaster Response Team; services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence; and SNUGS (guns spelled backwards) Stand Up to Violence, an innovative anti-gang peer intervention program. Each of these programs was almost unprecedented at the time of their development and implementation.


Cynthia Stuen (New York) – Dr. Cynthia Stuen’s career has focused on innovative policies and practices to improve the lives of older persons. Her social work leadership was performed in diverse settings ranging from skilled nursing/rehabilitation, community-based services, and academia, to building a National Center on Vision and Aging, advocating on a national and international level for awareness and education on the impact of age-related vision loss, and other disabling conditions. In her retirement, following a 40-year gerontological social work career, she advocates for human rights of older persons on a global level at the United Nations.


Charles Zastrow - Dr. Charles Zastrow has enhanced social work education through his important and lasting contributions as an author of three undergraduate and foundation social work textbooks and as co-author of two additional textbooks, beginning in 1977, that are still used with updated editions. These books include:  Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare (12th ed.); Generalist Social Work Practice (11th ed.); Social Work with Groups (10th ed.) (with Sarah L. Hessenauer); and Understanding Human Behavior and the Social Environment (10th ed.) (with Karen Kirst-Ashman and Sarah L. Hessenauer). His writings have influenced generations of students about choosing social work as a profession.  Building on his roles as instructor, field director, and department chair, he also provides leadership in developing accreditation standards at the state-level in Wisconsin and nationally through the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE).