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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Sister Ann Patrick Conrad, PhD, MSW
Sister Ann Patrick Conrad* (1942-2020)

Pioneering Contributions

Sister Ann Patrick Conrad, PhD, MSW, believed her pioneering work in social service started with her active participation in a Catholic social action movement during high school and continuing after graduation with her experience with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union as a caseworker on Health Survey Teams. She was trained as a Physician's Assistant, helping to establish one of the earliest low-cost mail order prescription drug programs for the union members. Later, she entered a community of religious women and transferred her outreach skills to provide social services with families and communities with Catholic Charities, and engaged in disaster relief following Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Since the inception of the School of Social Service at Catholic University of America (CUA), professional ethics has been a required course. During the revival of professional ethics in the helping professions, she provided leadership both nationally and internationally in the development of courses in professional social work ethics with a philosophical base. As a social work educator, she became one of the first and leading social workers to introduce ethics into the curriculum. Also, Conrad developed courses on Theories of Social Justice, which examines competing justice perspectives in contemporary society from a philosophical perspective. She was a recognized leader and consultant on this subject which led to the development of what is now required content in the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation standards.

Career Highlights

Conrad's career path began after she graduated from high school in 1959 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1974 she earned an MSW from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill; and, as a leader in the national movement within Catholic Charities on Social Ministries at the local community level, she went on to initiate the development of neighborhood social service outreach programs, which included training and supervision of indigenous parish outreach workers by professional social workers in the various Catholic parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

In the early 1980s Sister Ann's focus shifted to social work education. She was recruited to teach a range of foundational social work courses in the BSW Program at Marywood College in Scranton, Pennsylvania; and while earning her Doctoral Degree at CUA, taught in the Master's Degree Program, engaged in a small private clinical practice, and participated in research studies at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), an organization that pioneered in the use of empirical data as a basis for the Post Vatican II renewal of religious congregations. She then became a full-time faculty member at CUA and later became the Dean of the School of Social Service in 1996. Sister Ann's international social work education activities have taken her to The Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Chile, Milan, Lithuania, and Innsbruck, Austria.

Biographical Data

Sister Ann received her BS from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama; her MSW from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and her PhD from The Catholic University of America.

Significant Achievements and Awards

Sister Ann was honored by the Council on Accreditation of Family and Child Services for Board Leadership as Chairperson for three years. She was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to participate in an eight-week Summer Seminar on "Justice in Health Care" at Tufts University. She received the Msgr. John O'Grady Award presented annually by the National Conference of Catholic Charities (currently known as Catholic Charities USA) for the best paper submitted to the Editorial Review Board of Social Thought on some aspect of Catholic Social Service philosophy or practice. The paper was entitled "The Health Care Policy Pendulum: An Ethical Perspective." It was later published in Social Thought.

Sister Ann was an active participant in NASW and has frequently been invited as a presenter on professional ethics, social service outreach, social justice, and human rights, at international, national, regional, and community events, including the Social, Economic Justice and Peace Specialty Practice Section Committee.

Her professional leadership accomplishments in the wider community have included Board Service to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Catholic Charities U.S.A. (CC-USA) Board where she provided leadership in establishing an empirical basis for the revision of the CC-USA Code of Ethics (one of the earliest organizational codes developed in a social service organization); Chair of the Board of Directors of the Council on Accreditation of Family and Child Services (COA), New York; and, Chair of the Board of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work (NACSW).

During her tenure as Chair of the COA Board, a linkage with the Council on Social Work Education as a Supporting Organization of COA was formalized, and the existing linkage with NASW was strengthened. During her tenure as NACSW Chair, the organization's strategic focus was on intentional outreach to social workers across all Christian faith traditions, with an emphasis on recognizing and supporting the resulting organizational diversity.

Significant Publications

Recent publications by Sister Ann include:

  • Conrad, A.P. (2010) Needs, Rights, and the Human Family: A Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Perspective. Child Welfare: Special Issue on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 89 (5), 191-204.
  • O'Donnell, P; Ferrar, A; Brintzenhoef-Szoc, K; Conrad, A.P., et al (2008). Predictors of Ethical Stress, Moral Action and Job Satisfaction in Health Care Social Work. Social Work in Health Care, 46 (3), 29-51.

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.