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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Margery P. Carpenter Photo
Margery P. Carpenter*

Margery P. Carpenter developed a program for the National Council of Social Welfare to encourage college students to get their MSW degree and join the staff of Lutheran Social Welfare Agencies. She wrote appropriate recruitment material and visited Lutheran agencies in the country to counsel participating students. She showed similar pioneering efforts while serving as a volunteer consultant for the District of Columbia government in establishing the D.C. Youth Services Council. The Council was developed to recruit high school and college students to involve mentally handicapped youngsters in programs that combined training and play through a variety of creative activities from tumbling to crafts. She served as the Coordinator in the development and supervision of the program.

Margery’s first employment was with a group of social workers in the first treatment home for emotionally disturbed children established by a public countywide welfare agency, the Vince Day Center. She later joined the staff of the Minnesota Public Welfare Board as their Licensing Consultant for child caring agencies. While there, she served as a supervisor for group work students at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. She then joined the staff of the National Lutheran Council and the Lutheran Office of Government Affairs. She also was a Consultant for Special Projects for the Child Welfare League of America. She worked for six years in Chicago for the Council before moving to Washington, D.C. to join her husband who had moved there from Minnesota in 1961.

Margery Carpenter was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota. She continued at the university as a graduate student for two years in the School of Social Work. As a graduate student, she became acquainted with fellow classmate and Civil Rights Leader, Whitney M. Young, Jr. She maintained contact with Mr. Young until his untimely death in 1971.

She was active for much of her professional life with the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW), as a volunteer and a member of both national and international committees. She attended more than 15 ICSW international conferences, the first in Madras, India, in 1952. Following tthat first conference, she attended conferences in North America, Europe, and the Far East. She served as a speaker and group leader at several of the conferences. She received an award from the ICSW in 2009 at its conference in Tours, France, for her many years of service to ICSW.

Margery was a Charter Member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers, as well as the National Association of Social Workers. She also was a Charter Member of the Friends of the Kennedy Center and the National Museum of Women of the Arts. Margery was married to Kenneth Carpenter, also a member of the NASW Social Work Pioneers®.

NASW Social Worker 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.