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.

Skip Navigation Links
David M. Austin Photo
David M. Austin* (1923-2008 )

David M. Austin grew up in Wisconsin and received his BA from Lawrence College in 1943.  He was one of the first group of social work students supported through the GI Bill following WWII, and entered Western Reserve University’s School of Applied Social Sciences in 1946.  At SASS he studied with Grace Coyle in group work and Dean Leaonard W. Mayo in community organization, graduating in 1948 with an MS in Social Administration.

Following graduation he worked in group work and community planning positions in Boston and Cleveland.  In 1963, he headed Cleveland’s planning team which prepared the first comprehensive community-based action proposal funded under the 1961 President’s Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime.   He entered Brandeis University’s Florence Heller Graduate School in 1965, and received his PhD in Social Welfare in 1969. 

David Austin’s extensive teaching career included four years (1969-1973) at the Florence Heller School, and 24 years at the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin, where he held the Bert Kruger Smith Centennial Professorship.   He received UT-Austin’s Lora Lee Pederson Teaching Excellence Award (1982-1983), and University Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award (1989).   He administered the School’s Center for Social Work Research (1974-1979), and served as the School’s acting Dean (1991-1993).  He coordinated a program of collaboration between the School of Social Work and Facultad de Trabajo Social of the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon in Monterray, Mexico.

David Austin served on the Board of Directors of NASW (1963-1966); the Educational Planning Commission of the Council on Social Work Education (1979-1989); the Board of Directors of the American Public Welfare Association (1980-1982); and the Board of Directors of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (1983-1988).   He was recognized by NASW with the President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research (1992), and by CSWE with the Significant Lifetime Achievement Award (1997).

David Austin was married to Zuria Farmer Austin who also received her MSSA from the School of Applied Social Sciences in 1948, and practiced as a social caseworker in Cleveland and Boston. NASW.

Social Work 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.