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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Faustina Solís Photo
Faustina Solís* (1923-2013)

The following article was released by the UC San Diego News Center - August 7,2013.  

Faustina Solís—an educator and pioneer in public health and the second provost of the University of California, San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College—died on August 4 in San Diego, Ca., at age 90. A UC San Diego professor emeritus, Solís was also the university’s first Latina provost. She served as provost of the university’s Thurgood Marshall College (then known as Third College) from 1981-1988, and taught at the UC San Diego School of Medicine beginning in 1971. She established public health coursework for undergraduates and medical students, following many years in social work focused on healthcare for underserved populations. Solís’s contributions were honored in 1990 when Thurgood Marshall Lecture Hall on the UC San Diego campus was renamed the Faustina F. Solís Lecture Hall.

“Without bold leaders like Faustina Solís, UC San Diego would not be the world-class university it is today,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “She was a beloved campus leader who helped establish the foundation of excellence on which the university has been built.”

Thurgood Marshall College is one of six colleges at UC San Diego, each led by a provost. The campus’s college system is designed to provide students with many of the advantages of a small liberal arts college plus the resources of a large research university. During her years as provost of Marshall College, Solís promoted mentoring programs and aimed to engage new students—particularly from minority backgrounds. She was once quoted about her experiences with her students:

“They weren’t left to fly by themselves. Freshman and transfer students can feel very lost in a large university. They need support and assistance in every way possible, whether financial, social or counseling.”

Solís helped solidify Thurgood Marshall College’s mission of developing students as scholars and citizens who value social responsibility and academic excellence, alike. She also encouraged her students to participate in community outreach efforts in local neighborhoods.

“Faustina Solís was one of the first emerging female leaders at UC San Diego who gave vision and necessity to public service and excellence in undergraduate education,” said Allan Havis, Thurgood Marshall College’s current provost. “Our college is so honored by her superb contributions and we all benefit by her generous legacy.”

Because of her extensive background in public health, Solís was the first full professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine without a medical degree or doctorate. She introduced ethnic content into the medical school curriculum, based on her experiences in social work and the development of healthcare services for California’s migrant farm workers. She also served as an assistant chancellor during her time on campus.

Over the course of her career, she served as deputy director of the public health division of the California State Department of Health, and was coordinator and director of the Farm Workers’ Health Service Program with the State Department of Public Health from 1967 to 1971. In 1975, she was elected president of the California Association for Maternal and Child Health, the first lay person to head the organization which had traditionally elected physicians to the post. She was also directly involved in the establishment and operation of community health programs for Latinos in San Ysidro and San Diego County, and held consultation appointments in Guadalajara, Venezuela and Ecuador.

One of 12 children of parents who fled from Mexico to escape the chaos of revolution in 1911, Solís was born in Compton, Ca. on April 28, 1923. Her father attended English classes at night school after a 10-hour workday. Solís earned her undergraduate degree in sociology from UCLA, followed by her master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California in 1954.

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.