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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Warren Clark Lamson* (1914-2008)

Warren C. Lamson, a psychiatric social worker, had several years of experience as a social worker in the military during World War II when he joined the newly established National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1949 and became the Chief Psychiatric Social Worker for the Community Services Branch. In this position, he was responsible for giving leadership to the development of social work positions and content in the Regional Offices of the Public Health Service and for assisting state mental health programs to develop social work leadership.

Lamson was born in Neligh, Nebraska, received a Bachelor's Degree in Secondary Education from Wayne State Teacher's College and a Master's Degree from the School of Social Work at the University of Nebraska in 1942. His experience as a teacher and athletic coach, as a caseworker with family service, and in the military, along with his midwest background, all contributed to his ability to work effectively with emerging mental health educational programs throughout the country. It was a time when there was emphasis on prevention and community involvement in mental health education.

In the 1960s, Lamson was responsible for NIMH programs concerned with support of in-service training in mental hospitals and other mental health institutions. At the time of his retirement from NIMH in 1974, he was the Chief of the Continuing Education Branch in the Division of Manpower and Training Programs. From 1974 to 1978 he was Chief of the Social Work Programs in the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

He provided leadership to the establishment and development of the Conference of Chief Social Workers from State Mental Health Programs and active in many organizations from 1949 until the early 1980s. He also wrote extensively on the social aspects of community mental health programs, on the development of federal support of community mental health programs, and on mental health as an aspect of public health. He lived in Frederick, Maryland.

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.