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
Charles W. Bates Photo
Charles W. Bates* (1928-2016 )

Charles W. Bates his social work career in the summer of 1950 on 124th street in Harlem, New York where he lived and worked with neighborhood youth. His full time social work career began in 1952 as a case worker with Minnesota's Lake of the Woods County Welfare Department. Working in a very remote area of the state, it was necessary for him to visit his clients traveling by airplane or boat. He applied for and received a U.S. Children's Bureau Child Welfare Training Grant and attended Louisiana State University School of Social Work. After receiving his MSW in 1956, Bates returned to Minnesota to work as a Child Welfare Consultant and District Representative for the Department of Public Welfare.

Bates' social work career extended over 40 years, during which time he assumed increasingly responsible administrative positions, including appointments as the director of two large voluntary child welfare agencies (Milwaukee, WI and Boston, MA) and two public welfare departments (State of Ohio and Westchester County, NY). In every work setting, Bates demonstrated leadership qualities and an exceptional capacity to be innovative while fulfilling his professional commitment to help meet the needs of abused, neglected and dependent children, racial minorities, and recipients of public assistance.

His leadership and administrative contributions had a direct and positive impact on the lives of thousands of dependent, abused, abandoned and neglected persons. His pioneering contributions also helped advance the state of the art in social welfare, especially in connection with child welfare, Medicaid, and public assistance. Bates also helped advance the profession of social work by presenting papers, delivering speeches and serving on numerous boards and commissions where he had the opportunity to share his knowledge and experiences with other professionals and the public.

Below are several illustrations of how Charles Bates, the social worker, made a contribution to improving the lives and conditions of some of our nation's most disadvantaged populations.

  • From 1960 to 1963, Bates was Director of Casework for the Children's Home of Cincinnati, Ohio and the Children's Protective Service of the Ohio Humane Society. In this position he was responsible for 35 professionals. Bates was one of four members of the Ohio Valley Chapter of the NASW who volunteered to participate in the August 28, 1963 "March on Washington, D.C."
  • During President Johnson's war on poverty Bates worked and was housed in the center city of Milwaukee, WI, where he was the Executive Director of Child Care Centers Inc., a group and family day care complex.
  • From 1968 to December 1972, Bates was Executive Director of the Boston Children's Service Association of Boston, MA, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious voluntary child welfare agencies. The BCSA employed a staff of 150 operating in three locations; but in 1968, none of them were serving the large inner- city African-American population. Before taking the position at BCSA, Bates learned from Joseph Reed, Executive Director of the Child Welfare League of America, that only two or three percent of the private child welfare dollars were being spent in the African- American community, and this disparity was being made evident to the United Way and other funding sources by leaders of the Black community. To correct this situation, Bates, working with his agency's "Mainline" Board of Directors undertook to create within two years an "outpost" of BCSA in Roxbury, an African-American neighborhood noted mainly for its militancy. He was successful and eventually, this "outpost" of BCSA became an independent child welfare agency serving the Roxbury community.
  • In December 1972, Bates was selected by the Governor of Ohio to become Director of the Ohio Department of Public Welfare. The department supervised the administration of Medicaid, Public Assistance, and Social Service programs in 88 counties. ODPW employed 1,000 staff and operated with a budget of approximately one billion dollars a year. While director, Bates, with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, supervised the development of the nation's first automated payment system for Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for welfare recipients, and others who were deemed medically eligible. Labeled the Model Medicaid Management System (MMIS), this innovative Ohio program was quickly duplicated and exported to other states nationwide.
  • Bates also organized and promoted "Be Kid Conscious," a statewide child welfare initiative that attracted the attention of the public, including the Governor's wife. This initiative helped "sell" the state legislature on the need to allocate state funds for public child welfare, a first for Ohio.

In memorium - Charles W. Bates

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.