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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Alvin Schorr Photo
Alvin Schorr* (1921-2016)

Alvin Schorr's career was identified with public social policy, particularly with the issues surrounding income maintenance. Born in New York City in 1921, Schorr was graduated from the City College of New York with a BSS Degree and from Washington University in St. Louis with an MSW Degree. After college he was a social worker and executive in various public assistance, child welfare, and family counseling agencies. This phase of his career culminated with the executive directorship of the Family Service of Northern Virginia.

In 1958, Schorr received an appointment as a Family Life Specialist in the Social Security Administration with the responsibility to adapt social security programs to changing family needs. He dealt with issues such as AFDC, housing, and poverty. In 1963, Schorr began a two-year stint as the Social Security Administration's Acting Chief of Long Range Research, where he headed analyses of poverty in the U.S. and the relationship of family and income development. In 1965, Schorr moved from Social Security to the Office of Economic Opportunity, again in the area of research and planning the allocation of OE0 and other government funds in the war against poverty. In 1967, he moved to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Individual and Family Services.

Schorr moved from the government to the academic sector at the end of the Lyndon Johnson administration. In November, 1968, he went to Brandeis University as Professor of Social Policy and Director of the Center for Studies of Income Maintenance Policy (later he initiated a similar center at New York University), a project that provided consultation to model cities programs. In 1970, Schorr became Dean of the New York University School of Social Work, and in 1973 he became the General Director of the New York Community Service Society, a position he held until 1977.

After two years (1977-1979) as Visiting Professor at the Catholic University of America, Schorr became the Leonard Mayo Professor of Family and Child Welfare at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He received numerous awards, among them a Distinguished Service Award (1966), and the Distinguished Alumnus Citation (1970) from Washington University's George Warren Brown School of Social Work, the Michael Schwerner award for civil rights leadership (1972), and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Adelphi University (1975). He was a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in England in1962-1963.

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.