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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Harris Chaiklin Photo
Harris Chaiklin* (1926-2015)

Harris Chaiklin, PhD, MSW, LCSW-C, was a professional social worker for nearly 50 years. During that time, he served on the faculties of three schools of social work and, throughout most of those years, also held a part-time job as practitioner in a social agency or as a private practitioner. His combination of scholarship and hands-on experience enriched Dr. Chaiklin’s role as a teacher, his insight and relevance as a writer, and his effectiveness as a consultant. Students benefited from his ability to relate theory to practice, and the balanced perspective of his published articles enabled Dr. Chaiklin to enlighten the profession with his critical analyses of social work, its focus, direction, practice, and role in democratic society.

In consultation with agencies and programs, Dr. Chaiklin brought to the field a unique special brand of scholarship and relevance. He was a valued advisor to the Veterans Administration (VA) Social Work Service program during its transition from hospital-to-community-based mental health care. His strong affirmation that social work’s role in the community was equal in importance to its traditional one-on-one clinical relationships was helpful in providing the impetus for this change in the VA’s policy.  

Dr. Chaiklin received a number of honors, including: the Maryland Association of Higher Education Award of Merit for the Dual Degree in Social Work and Dance Therapy; a listing in Who’s Who Among Human Service Professionals; the Harry Greenstein Award, Baltimore Associated Jewish Charities; election to Alpha Delta Mu, Morgan State University; Senior Fulbright Hays Lecturer, Haifa University; a listing in Who’s Who in the East; he was recognized by Outstanding Educators of America; Social Worker of the Year, Maryland NASW; and, he was a Commonwealth Fund Fellow, at Yale University.

Dr. Chaiklin wrote more than 50 articles, primarily published in professional journals. He earned both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Sociology from University of Connecticut, and a Master of Science in Social Work from University of Wisconsin. He earned his PhD in Medical Sociology from Yale University. 

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.