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
Louise Proehl Shoemaker Photo
Louise Proehl Shoemaker* (1925-2013)

Louise Proehl Shoemaker had an illustrative career as a group worker, educator, and Dean of the School of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania. In the 1940 and 1950s she worked in the Elliot Park Neighborhood House, Minnesota; the Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota; Maryland State Department of Public Welfare; and the Manhattanville Community Center of New York City.

She taught nationally and internationally in such schools as the Unitarian Service Committee; United States State Department; University of West Virginia; University of Hamburg, West Germany; University of Ibadan, Nigeria; and the School of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania, where she was Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Acting Dean, and Dean.

She was concerned throughout her career in working within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America about issues related to social justice and equality of women in the church as well as minority ministry. She also was active and concerned about international matters and while Dean of the School of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania, she worked to attract more African American students and faculty. During her tenure the school boasted the University's highest percentage of African American faculty members.

She traveled widely and taught in schools of social work in Africa on many occasions. She adopted two orphans from Sudan who previously had spent 13 years in refugee camps. Both went on to college. Louise was a charter member of NASW having belonged to the predecessors of such organizations as AASW and AAGW. She was well-regarded throughout the Lutheran Church of America, international circles, social work group workers, and social work education. She graduated from the University of Illinois, cum laude, received her MSW Degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work, an ABD from the University of Edinburgh, and a DSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She authored numerous papers and lectured extensively in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

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.