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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Florence Vigilante Photo
Florence Vigilante* (1927-2012)

Dr. Florence Vigilante retired at age 81 from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Dr. Vigilante served on the school’s  faculty from 1967 to 2008, serving in multiple capacities as Director of Admissions, as Chair of the Clinical Practice sequence, and as Director of the Hunter College Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  In 1983, Dr. Vigilante created the school’s  EAP to provide free counseling for Hunter employees, their families and significant others.  She served as its Director until her retirement in 2008. 

She also was editor of the Journal of Teaching in Social Work, a journal that continues to be associated with the Silberman School of Social Work.   She was nationally known for her ground breaking work in social work in employment settings, and her commitment to educating students for direct practice work. At her retirement party in 2008,  many speakers attested to her significant contributions to the Silberman School of Social Work and the social work profession.  

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.