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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Donald Kenneth Granvold Photo
Donald Kenneth Granvold* (1943-2013)

Pioneering Contributions

Throughout his career, Dr. Donald Kenneth Granvold pioneered in the field of cognitive treatment methods. In 1976, he developed the first course in Cognitive Intervention Methods in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) where he taught Direct Practice courses from 1975-2013. Dr. Granvold was respected as a visionary in terms of promoting Constructivist Psychotherapy Theory and treatment methods in social work settings with specific focus on depression in adults, couples treatment, divorce, and sexual dissatisfaction.

Over the years, Dr. Granvold was not only an educational leader, he also was a formidable figure in the realm of social work theory, and practice improvement. He presented more than 100 different papers at professional conferences, and his presentations were featured at the NASW Texas Annual Conference for 30 years. Additionally Dr. Granvold was a frequent presenter of continuing education sessions for practitioners throughout the United States and worked as a consultant for more than 30 different agencies. He brought his expertise to the Editorial Boards of Social Work and Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, in addition to writing more than 50 book chapters and journal articles. Dr. Granvold was also the Editor for Cognitive and Behavioral Treatment: Method and Applications.

Career Highlights

In 2013, Dr. Granvold retired after his 40th year of service at the University of Texas at Arlington where he had been a member of the faculty since 1974, and held the positions of Director of Field Placement, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, MSSW Program Director, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Before his time as a faculty member at UTA, Dr. Granvold held several positions with the Iowa Department of Social Services as a Child Welfare Worker and Casework Supervisor. He then went on to serve as Director of Social Services for the Iowa Annie Wittenmyer Home in Davenport, Iowa. When he appeared on the Phil Donahue Show to discuss Social inhibition and Dating Skills, he brought both his personal career and his profession to the national attention. He maintained a part-time private practice from 1975-2013.

Biographical Information

Dr. Granvold was Born August 16, 1943 and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies in 1965 from Graceland College in Lamoni Iowa. He then went on to serve in the United States Army before completing his Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Iowa in 1970. Dr. Granvold later graduated with a Doctorate Degree in Social Foundations of Education in 1975 from the University of Iowa. He stated that his philosophy as an educator of future social work professionals was “to prepare students for immediate practice effectiveness but for career long success. I am enthusiastic about my field and seek to ignite my students' passion for serving others skillfully.”  

Significant Achievements and Awards

Dr. Granvold’s dedication and years of service garnered many accolades. He is the only social worker awarded a van Ameringen Foundation Fellowship to study at The Beck Institute with Aaron T. Beck, MD (1998-1999). He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1990 from the University of Iowa School of Social Work. He was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at the University of Texas at Arlington (2010-2011) and honored with the University of Texas System Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Perhaps the greatest testament to Dr. Granvold’s contribution as an educator was reflected in recognition bestowed upon him by his own students who honored him with the Fernando G. Torgerson Teaching Award.

His credentials were as extensive as they were impressive: Granvold was a Clinical Member and Approved Supervisor of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, a member of the NASW, Academy of Certified Social Workers, Tarrant County Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, Constructivist Psychology Network, the International Association for Cognitive Psychotherapy, and a Founding Fellow for the Academy of Cognitive Therapy.

Dr. Donald Kenneth Granvold Obituary

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.