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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Maurice O. Hunt Photo
Maurice O. Hunt* (1912-2010)

Maurice O. Hunt was involved in social activism throughout his professional social work career. He obtained his MA in 1938 from the Indiana Training School for Social Work, which became the Indiana University School of Social Work. His involvement in the profession spans 50 years and included a stint in Greece during World War II with the United States Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. He was a member of NASW starting in1969 and was a former member of the NASW Board. 

Maurice was born in Kirklin, Indiana, and spent his early years working in social work positions in the state as a case worker responsible for the placement of boys in their homes and in foster homes. He then became Director of Social Services at the Boy's School and worked to change the institution from a military-style operation to a treatment program. He later became a Child Welfare Consultant for the Indiana Department of Public Welfare. When WW II began, he applied for a position with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and was dispatched to Greece.

In 1946 he returned to Indiana and became Director of the Department of Public Assistance in the Department of Public Welfare. He became the Administrator of the Department of Public Welfare at the age of 37. His years there were overshadowed by the McCarthy period during which he was beset by accusations that the department was a hot bed of communists and both the local paper and a conservative legislature created many challenging administrative problems.

After two years, he left Indiana and became the Assistant  Director of the American Public Welfare Association and later Chief of the Bureau of Child Welfare of the Maryland State Department of Public Welfare. Later responsibilities included serving as Director of the National Study Service and the First Deputy Director of the New York City Department of Social Services. The two years in that position were turbulent, with officials walking the streets of Harlem trying to restrain angry citizens. His last social work position was as Administrative Vice-President of the Federation of Protestant Agencies in New York City. He was in this position from 1969 until his retirement in 1982. Throughout his career as a caseworker, administrator, and consultant, Maurice Hunt was a leader in the development and practice of progressive child welfare services.

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.