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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Frances Lomas Feldman Photo
Frances Lomas Feldman* (1912-2008)

Social policy and administration was at the center of Frances Lomas Feldman's professional career, which began in 1934. After a number of years as a social worker and administrator in the public welfare and the family service fields, in 1954 she joined the faculty of the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California (USC). Her teaching areas were social welfare history, policy, and administration. Feldman's research and writing center on the psychological, social, and economic meanings of money and work in American families.

She made several pioneering contributions to the profession. Her writings on the meanings of money still constitute the seminal work in this field and receive continued national and international attention. Her three research projects on work experience of persons with cancer health histories represent the first funding of psychosocial research by the American Cancer Society and remain the fundamental data on this topic of growing contemporary concern. Its findings and recommendations led several states to modify fair employment legislation.

Feldman was instrumental in establishing the first industrial social work curriculum in the west, as well as a University-funded staff faculty counseling center, which became a model for the creation of employee counseling programs in some government and industry work places in California. With George Nickel, she established the first credit counseling services; 280 now exist throughout the nation under the auspices of the National Consumer Credit Association.

With Norris Class, Feldman helped to create the still operating Delinquency Control Institute at USC, a training facility for corrections and related personnel. It draws students for its training from around the United States and the world for its programs each year. Feldman's social work skills were called on by groups such as the McCone Commission to examine the Watts riots of 1965. Private corporations also called upon her to examine the impact of downsizing policies and actions on employees and their families. Her work on the Alaska Rural Areas Social Services Demonstration not only was ranked by the University of Florida as one of the 10 most successful demonstration projects ever funded by HEW, but also led to an invitation from the governments of Mali and Morocco for consultation about dealing with similar problems in those countries.

Numerous awards and honors were bestowed on her. She served on a number of state and national committees and commissions, including chairing the Governor's Advisory Committee on Mental Health. Although she officially retired in 1982, she continued to do research, lecture, and volunteer activities at USC, to serve on several agency boards in the wider community, and to conduct invited workshops in various parts of the United States and in other countries.

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.