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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Ronald Dellums Photo
Ronald V. Dellums* (1935-2018 )

Ronald Dellums represented California’s Oakland Congressional District from 1970-1998. He chaired the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Research and Development. He also was a member of the Subcommittee on Investigations and a member of the Defense Policy Panel. In December of 1988, he was elected Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. He was the principal Congressional leader in the effort to curb and reverse military spending and the nuclear arms race and a leader in the effort to terminate U.S. government support for the racist regime in South Africa. He consistently challenged the militarization of U.S. foreign policy in Central America and repeatedly voted against military aid to governments there. Most important he has represented Social Work values in the political arena.

Born in Oakland, California, he earned his Masters of Social Work degree from the University of California, Berkely. He served on the Berkeley City Council before being elected to Congress. Dellums has been the model advocate and community organizer throughout his social work career. The University of California- Berkeley created the Ronald V. Dellums Endowed Chair in Peace and Conflict Studies to celebrate Congressman Dellums’ leadership in bringing an end to the Cold War. Congressman Dellums continues to work in international health and conflict mediation services. In addition, he authored a book of his experiences entitled Lying Down with the Lions- A Public Life from the Streets of Oakland to the Halls of Power.

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.