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
Carmen Ortiz Hendricks Photo
Carmen Ortiz Hendricks* (1947-2016)

Dr. Carmen Ortiz Hendricks made significant contributions to the practice of social work in the roles of educator, administrator, and multi-cultural scholar. She is nationally and internationally recognized for the advancement of culturally competent practice with such diverse groups as Alzheimer patients, immigrants, traumatized children, and substance abusers. The settings for this practice include hospitals, schools, and child welfare, and family agencies. Her field of practice was social work education, and most particularly, culturally competent social work practice and education.

Dr. Ortiz Hendricks Chaired the Sub-Committee of NASW's National Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity that developed the association's standards for culturally competent social work practice. These standards were later endorsed by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). She also served as a Commissioner on CSWE's Commission on Accreditation.

Among her most celebrated published works are the two editions of Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn: A Guide for Social Work Education, which she co-authored with Jeanne Bertrand Finch of Stony Brook University, State University of New York, and Cheryl L. Franks of Columbia University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She was co-editor of Intersecting Child Welfare, Substance Abuse and Family Violence: Culturally Competent Approaches with R. Fong, and R. McRoy (2006, Alexandria, VA: CSWE Press) and co-author of Women of Color as Social Work Educators: Strengths and Survival with Halaevalu F. Ofahengaue Vakalahi and Saundra Hardin Starks (2007). In addition to the above books, Dr. Ortiz Hendricks authored and co-authored articles, monographs, and manuals that address culturally competent practice.

Dr. Ortiz Hendricks worked primarily in social work departments of universities in New York City. After 25 years at Hunter College School of Social Work, she became Associate Dean and Professor at Yeshiva University, Wurzweiler School of Social Work, also in New York City. In 2007, as part of a Fulbright Scholarship to Israel, she consulted with Israeli social work educators, and taught several classes at Hebrew University and Ben Gurion University. As a member of the Cuban Research Project and Collaborative with the University of Havana, Dr. Ortiz Hendricks also contributed to the practice and education of social workers in Cuba.

In addition to her leadership in the area of cultural competency, she championed the cause of recruiting and advancing persons of color to and in the field of social work. Of particular concern to Dr. Ortiz Hendricks was Latinos' increasing representation in the United States population, not matched by their entry in the social work profession. She wrote articles, and developed, and led forums and roundtables on the need to recruit more Latino social workers.

Dr. Ortiz Hendricks promoted cultural competency and diversity, not only in her public roles, but also in her classroom and through interactions with individual students. In the classroom, she modeled the empowerment of students as subjects, based on the teachings of Friere. Through her methods, students became open to new knowledge and ideas and to challenging the prevailing stereotypes and ideologies. The modeling was particularly useful for those PhD students learning to be college professors themselves. As teachers learn, they obviously multiply the impact of their learning in their applications to students in their own classrooms. Dr. Ortiz Hendricks not only taught students, but also learned from them. These pedagogical examples, as well as the activities described above, are just some of the ways Dr. Carmen Ortiz Hendricks was a role model for future generations of social workers.

In Memoriam, Dr. Carmen Ortiz Hendricks, Yeshiva 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.