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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Alma T. Young Photo
Alma T. Young* (1930-2012)

A clinician, supervisor, educator, and leader in social work, Dr. Alma T. Young devoted her early work to teenagers and pregnant young women, which have been highlighted in her publications and are still being referenced in social work education. She was on the staff of Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center, Department of Social Work from 1960-1998.  She contributed immensely to Mount Sinai, in staff development, student education (both social work and medical) and in the development of quality assurance of delivered social services. One of her major contributions in quality assurance was the development and implementation of a structured method for the documentation of social work notes in the patient’s medical chart.  Chart notation was formalized and became a component in the certification process of the Joint Commission on Accreditation for evaluating social work in hospitals.

Dr. Young was an active member in numerous professional organizations and held leadership roles both in local and national associations including the American Public Health Association, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).  She held various leadership positions in these organization and brought her knowledge and skills regarding practice, education and program innovations into their planning enterprise.

In her later years, she had a major commitment to the New Alternative for Children of which she was a founding member and its first president.  She remained active on boards and served as a consultant to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the Planned Parenthood Federation, and the Adolescent Health Center (MSMC). She was a teacher not only in social work at Mount Sinai, but also in nursing and medicine. In addition, she taught courses in social work at Columbia University, Hunter College, New York University, Rutgers University and a host of other educational institutions.

Dr. Young wrote extensively on service development, accountability, unmarried mothers, adolescents, maternal and child health, chronic illness, minorities and prevention, and health education.  For her many contributions to the field, she received many awards including Social Worker of the Year for Outstanding Achievement and Exemplary Service to the Profession Award.

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.