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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 Eva M. Stewart Photo
Eva M. Stewart*

Eva M. Stewart graduated from the University of Omaha with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and received her Master of Social Work Degree form Howard University. From her early career, she used her talents to create innovative programs, to inspire and nurture young professionals, and used her positions to change policies to enhance the quality of life for others. One of her first jobs was at the Red Cross where she conceived and implemented a model training program for volunteers and students. This program was so successful that it was duplicated in many Red Cross Chapters across the country. At St. Elizabeth's Hospital she recognized that many patients were being discharged to dysfunctional homes and she developed a program where patients were placed in foster homes, which made for a more successful re-entry into the community with fewer relapses.

At the Department of Health and Human Services (HEW), where she was the first African American professional in her department, she created a program called "Bridging the Gap" that recruited, hired, and trained African Americans for career positions in the government. She became a mentor to many of these young professionals and encouraged many to go on for graduate degrees in social work. By then her reputation and abilities to create programs was established and Eva was recruited from HEW to Howard University School of Social Work to develop the Field Instruction Department. In the area of field instruction, she organized the Mid-Atlantic Region of Directors of Field Instruction for the purpose of standardizing practices within the field of disseminating knowledge. This group helped to establish a Commission of Field Instructors.

Within NASW she provided leadership locally and nationally. She was elected President of the Washington Metro Chapter and was appointed to Chair the National Affirmative Action Committee. In addition, she was elected to the National Nomination and Leadership Identification Committee for Region V and she co-chaired the Verne Lyons Memorial MSW Scholarship Committee, which produced a very successful conference on health issues in African American communities. Serving on the united Way Board, the Advisory Committee to the Mayor on Mental Health, the D.C. Commission for Women, the Southwest Community House, and the D.C. Mental Health Association, she contributed significantly to the enhancement of the lives of the residents of the District of Columbia. Eva received numerous honors, including two awards from the Howard University School of Social Work (HUSSW) Alumni Association and the Lifetime Achievement Award for the Washington Metropolitan Chapter, NASW.

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.