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.

Skip Navigation Links
Elaine Brody* (1923-2014)

Elaine Brody was one of the first social work practitioners to recognize the need for an aging specialization, and she maintained a leadership role in social work with the aging. She received her MSSA degree from the University of Pittsburgh. By establishing active research in the field of direct practice, Elaine Brody was indeed a pioneer. In fact, she was one of only a few practicing social workers who carried out research at the same time.

Mrs. Brody was Director of the Department of Human Resources and Associate Director of Research at the Philadelphia Geriatric Center. She was a Senior Research Consultant at that organization. She received an honorary doctorate from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1987, and was elected as a distinguished Scholar of the National Academies of Practice.

Elaine Brody is past President of the Gerontological Society of America and the 1982 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient of the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work. She was elected as a Woman of the Year by Ms. Magazine, January 1986. Mrs. Brody also served on the editorial boards of many professional journals and on Review Committees at the National Institute of Mental Health, the Administration on Aging and a number of foundations. She was a member of the Congressional Advisory Panel on Alzheimer's disease.

Her publications include six books, her most recent, Women in the Middle: Their Parent Care Years, many, book chapters and more than 200 journal articles. In addition, she directed 15 federally funded research studies on various subjects. Elaine Brody brought honor to the profession. She served as a role model and mentor for many who were taking professional risks when gerontology was a new field.

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.