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 Marion Allen Photo
Frances Marion Allen* (1908-1997)

Frances Marion Allen was born in Dallas to Drs. James Walter Allen and Daisy Emery Allen, who both practiced medicine in Content, Texas. Following the death of her father when Allen was six years old, the family moved to Fort Worth where Allen’s mother became a clinical instructor in pediatrics at Forth Worth Medical College and then entered private practice. Allen studied at Texas Christian University and received a Certificate from the Southwest Social Services Institute Dallas, Texas. She received a BA from the University of Texas at Austin in 1929. She attended evening college at the University of Chicago, School of Social Sciences 1931 to 1935. She received a master's of social work degree from Tulane University in 1948 and an advanced certificate from Smith College of Social Work in 1952.

Her most outstanding contributions were during the last 19 years of her career during the 1950s and 1960s when she joined the staff of the Child Guidance Clinic of Ft. Worth and Tarrant County. She became social work supervisor and eventually associate director. She worked as an advocate for on-going staff development and excellence in practice. She was instrumental in the clinic's application for membership in the Association of Psychiatric Clinics for Children.

Allen contributed as a pioneer in the early days of public welfare in Chicago as well as in Texas. She worked in Illinois at the L&R Relief Commission in Chicago from 1931 to 1935. As the case work supervisor for this department, she experienced a near fatal assault with a razor by a relief client who considered her personally responsible for agency policies. After 3 months, recovering from her wounds, she worked again as a supervisor in a different district office. At the time, she was the supervisor of a worker who was shot to death in a client's home by a man and his mother who later came to the district office and killed the district supervisor and seriously injured 2 other workers in a random shooting spree.

Allen worked in Texas in the State Department of Public Welfare as the regional supervisor from 1939 to 1941 in the Austin area where she conducted an extensive in-service training program which had been defined by the state consultant. In the Lubbock area, she assembled a staff development library, established strong relationships with county commissions and developed agency referral packages. During World War II she worked for the Ft. Worth chapter of the American Red Cross from 1941 to 1945 as the supervisor of volunteers. Her periodic orientation courses were attended by an outstanding group of dedicated volunteers. She also supervised new social work graduates.

She helped to create a family service agency in Ft. Worth and she later served as local co-chairman for the council social agency health committee to study how other communities were handling duplication and gaps to services to children.

She held professional memberships in NASW, the Psychiatric Association, the University of Texas of School of Social Work advisory committees, and was a member of state and local mental health associations. Mrs. Allen resides in Fort Worth, Texas.

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.