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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Katherine Kendall Photo
Katherine Kendall* (1910-2010)

Katherine Kendall was closely identified with major development in social work education over more than five decades. As Executive Secretary of the American Association of Schools of Social Work in 1951-1952, she played a major role in bringing the Association and its graduate school membership in the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). CSWE was launched as a result of the merger of three organizations. Kendall became its first Educational Secretary with responsibility for curriculum consultation and related educational services.

As Associate Director, Executive Director, and Director of International Education, she remained with the Council until 1971. She also served as Secretary of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW). From 1966 to 1971, she moved entirely into international work, with shared responsibilities as Director of International Education for CSWE and Secretary General of the IASSW. When IASSW established an independent Secretariat in 1971, Kendall became its first full-time paid Secretary-General. Although she retired in 1978, she continued to give volunteer service to the Council as an honorary life member of the Board and to the IASSW as an Honorary Life President and member of the Board.

Born in Scotland, Kendall came to the United States in 1920 and became a naturalized citizen in 1940. She earned a BA Degree in 1933, University of Illinois; an MA in Social Work in 1939, Louisiana State University; and a PhD Degree in Social Service Administration in 1950, University of Chicago. From 1947 to 1950, she served as Social Affairs Officer with the United Nations where she produced Training for Social Work: An International Survey. Kendall then went to the US Children's Bureau where she was Assistant Director of the Inter-American Unit and Training Supervisor for the International Service. During World War II, she worked for the American Red Cross as Assistant Director for Training, Home Service.

Kendall served on the faculties of the University of Chicago; the Richmond School of Social Work; the School of Social Work at Howard University; and held a Carnegie Visiting Professorship at the University of Hawaii School of Social Work. She inaugurated the first Henry and Lucy Moses Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the School of Social Work, Hunter College. She was Executive Secretary, Council of Advisors to Hunter College, its School of Social Work, and the Lois and Samuel Silberman Fund. Her leadership in social work education has been widely recognized. CSWE presented her with the Distinguished Service Award, the Council's gold medal, and she was the first recipient of the Significant Lifetime Achievement Award. Kendall received numerous honorary doctorate degrees. A scholarship has been established in her name at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work.

Kendall worked closely with the United Nations (UN), UNICEF, and the Organization of American States. She continued to serve as an official non-governmental representative for the IASSW at both the UN and UNICEF. In 1991, the IASSW established the Katherine A. Kendall Award for Distinguished Service in International Social Work Education. Among her volunteer work, was serving on the International Council on Social Welfare U.S. Committee (ICSW-US) for many years. She wrote more than 100 articles and books. She was a member of NASW for nearly 50 years and she served as a member of the NASW Social Work Pioneers® Steering Committee. In 2002, she was awarded the NASW Foundation's International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award for significantly advancing the public image of social work. In September 2010, friends, family, and collegues celebrated her 100th birthday with her at an event that drew attendees from across the country.

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.