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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Florence Lieberman* (1918-2010)

Pioneering Contributions

Florence Lieberman was known for her extraordinary contributions to the field of clinical social work in New York City, while a Professor at the Hunter College School of Social Work. She was the Founder and first Chair of the National Academy of Practice in Social Work. She made major contributions as an editor and writer in the fields of mental health, child and adolescent social work, and family/group therapy. She authored six professional texts and served as Editor of the Clinical Social Work Journal and as Editor of Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

Career Highlights

During the 1940s, Lieberman was a caseworker at New York City’s Department of Social Services and served as a Disaster Relief Social Worker in Louisville, Kentucky in 1945. She worked at the Madeline Borg Child Guidance Clinic’s Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services from 1956-1964. She served as a senior social worker, group therapist, and student supervisor. She was a researcher for the Center for Urban Education’s Headstart Program from 1966-1967. Florence Lieberman retired as Professor Emerita at Hunter College’s School of Social Work, where she was a Professor from 1966-1986. From 1977-1982. She served as Chair of the National Education Committee of the National Federation of Clinical Social Work.

Biographic Data

Lieberman received her DSA in social work from Columbia University in 1968. She received an MSS from Smith College’s School of Social Work in 1956 and her BA from Hunter College in 1938. Lieberman was a Diplomate of the New York Society of Clinical Social Work Psychotherapists and a Charter Member of NASW.  She also was a member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association and of the Standards Committee of the National Registry of Health Care Providers in Clinical Social Work.

Significant Achievements and Awards

  • 1986: Awarded Smith College’s Day-Garrett Award, given annually to one or more members of the Smith Community in recognition of outstanding contributions to the profession of social work or who have been significant members of the SSW educational community.
  • 1983: Elected Distinguished Practitioner in Social Work, National Academy of Practice in Social Work.

Significant Publications

  • Lieberman, Florence. Clinical Social Workers As Psychotherapists. Psychology Press, 1982.
  • Lieberman, F. (1994). The relevance of countertransference.  Journal of Analytic Social Work, 2(2), 77-81.
  • Lieberman, F. (1990).  The immigrants and Mary Richmond. Clinical and Adolescent Social Work, 7(2), 81-84.
  • Lieberman, F. (1989). Clients or patients: Families of children with developmental disabilities. Child and Adolescent Social Work, 6(4).
  • Lieberman, F. (1987). Clinical practice and the social issues of foster care. Child and Adolescent Social Work, 4(3 & 4).

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.