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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Harold W. Demone* (1924-2011)

Harold W. Demone’s career in social work, academia and public service reflected his scholarship, leadership abilities and his willingness to explore “uncharted areas” of basic social and public health issues. He was an administrator, a teacher, a researcher and a public policy and program planner and advocate. His areas of emphasis and expertise included substance abuse, mental health, mental retardation, criminal justice, and community health.

During his professional career of 43 years, Harold Demone worked mostly in three states, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Hampshire. However, his work had a national impact as he consulted in more than 20 states and served on many state and federal committees and advisory groups. He was a driving force behind federal and state legislative initiatives related to services and research related to mental health, mental retardation and alcoholism, adult corrections, parole and probation, mental health commitment procedures, and vocational rehabilitation.   

He was the Chief Executive Officer of several public and private organizations and served as Executive Director of the Medical Foundation in Boston (1960-1967), Executive Director of the United Community Planning Corporation in Boston (1967-1977), and Dean of the School of Social Work at Rutgers University (1977-1987). Throughout these years, he served on a wide range of professional, public policy and community advisory groups. He was a prolific writer with eight books and dozens of articles to his credit. Dr. Demone retired from full-time professional work in 1992, however he continued to write and participate in professional and community organizations and he served as a visiting lecturer in Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health at Harvard. Even in his retirement, Dr. Demone continued to work towards improvement of and better public understanding of human needs and services.

After receiving his BA and MA degrees from Tufts in Sociology, Dr. Demone went into social work through his studies at Brandeis University where he received a PhD in Social Welfare. He was active in NASW, CSWE, The International Council on Social Welfare, and he served as Editor, and Book Review Editor for Social Work. One of his longtime interests was issues related to the privatization of human services. This was but one example of the creative and forward thinking which characterized his long career.

NASW Social Work Pioneer - 1997

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.