NASW Pioneers Biography Index

The National Association of Social Workers Foundation is pleased to present the NASW Social Work Pioneers®. NASW Pioneers are social workers who have explored new territories and built outposts for human services on many frontiers. Some are well known, while others are less famous outside their immediate colleagues, and the region where they live and work. But each one has made an important contribution to the social work profession, and to social policies through service, teaching, writing, research, program development, administration, or legislation.

The NASW Pioneers have paved the way for thousands of other social workers to contribute to the betterment of the human condition; and they are are role models for future generations of social workers. The NASW Foundation has made every effort to provide accurate Pioneer biographies.  Please contact us at to provide missing information, or to correct inaccurate information. It is very important to us to correctly tell these important stories and preserve our history.  

Please note, an asterisk attached to a name reflects Pioneers who have passed away. All NASW Social Work Pioneers® Bios are Copyright © 2021 National Association of Social Workers Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

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Jane Bierdeman-Fike Photo
Jane Bierdeman-Fike* (1922-2012)

Jane Bierdeman-Fike graduated Magna Cum Laude from Maryville College in 1944 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1949 she received her MSW from the School of Social Service, St. Louis University. She worked as a social worker in the area of mental health for fifty years. Her first job was as a case worker for the St. Louis Welfare Office where she was continuously employed since that time as a social worker in many different places.

Beginning in 1962, she was the Director of Psychiatric Social Work at Fulton State Hospital. As director, she advocated for the vulnerable and often unheard residents at Fulton State. She was a role model and mentor for other social workers working with this population and was a great teacher to students all over the state and the United States as a practicum supervisor. Jane believed that those who are oppressed with mental illness need to have a voice and she taught this and lived this belief as a lecturer at William Woods University, University of Missouri School of Social Work in Columbia, George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University and the School of Social Service at Saint Louis University.

Prior to being asked to take on the responsibility as Director of Psychiatric Social Work, Jane was a casework supervisor and a psychiatric social worker at St. Louis State Hospital. She worked with people with mental health needs from 1955 until her retirement. She didn't just work with them, she lived for them. Every activity she chooses to participate in she did because she believed it would better their lot in life.

She was a role model of all role models and social workers across Missouri feel blessed to have worked with her. She was honest, sensitive and caring, and on top of all of that, she knew her practice and stayed current with practice trends. Jane was a rare practitioner who believed in writing up and presenting her practice experiences and interventions. She published several articles and also received several grants.

Jane not only served Fulton State Hospital, she served her community. She served on the NASW National Board of Directors and was a "Pioneer" in getting the NASW- Missouri Chapter started. This involved gaining the collaboration of several different social work groups within the state.  She served on the NASW Missouri Chapter Executive Committee as Vice-President, elect in 1975, and as President, elected in 1977.

In 2005 she received NASW's Lifetime Achievement Award. She had previously received the Social Worker of the Y ear Award by the Missouri Chapter NASW (1995) ; the Honorary Alumni Award, University of Missouri-Columbia for contributions to School of Social Work College of Human Environmental Sciences (1991), the Alumni Merit Award, Saint Louis University of Social Service (1991); Plaque of Appreciation, Social Work Program,( William Woods University, (1990); Executive of the Year Award, University of Missouri School of Social Work, Columbia, (1988); and the Recipient of Alumni Professional Achievement Award, Maryville College, St. Louis, (1971).

Newly Inducted NASW Social Work Pioneer Hortense McClinton 2015

Nominate A New NASW Pioneer

Please note, Pioneer nominations made between today’s date through March 31, 2023, will not be reviewed until spring 2023.

Completed NASW Pioneer nominations can be submitted throughout the year and are reviewed at the June Pioneer Steering Committee Meeting. To be considered at the June meeting, submit your nomination package by March 31. To learn more, visit our Pioneer nomination guidelines.

New Pioneers 

Congratulations newly elected Pioneers!  Pioneers will be inducted at the 2023  Annual Program and Luncheon. Full biographies and event details coming soon.