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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Bruce Donald Buchanan, ACSW, BCD, LISW
Bruce Donald Buchanan* (1954-2020)

Pioneering Contributions

Bruce Buchanan, ACSW, BCD, LISW, was a pillar of the social work profession in Iowa for more than 45 years. Passing in the summer of 2020, he left a legacy of service, dedication, and expertise. 

Buchanan was a nationally recognized trainer and lecturer in child and adolescent therapies, social work ethics, reactive attachment disorder, and residential treatment programming. He spent decades mentoring social workers by providing training, therapeutic consultation, clinical consultation, practicum supervision, and ethical consultation. 

Buchanan served on the Iowa Board of Social Work Examiners and the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) for several years. His expertise in program and service delivery, behavioral problems and sexual offense in adolescents, systems thinking, family functioning, and interpersonal communication, made him a respected and sought-after resource for various institutions across the state of Iowa.

Career Highlights

Buchanan served as the President and CEO at Compass Clinical Associates, one of the largest and most comprehensive full-service mental health agencies in Iowa. He was also the Past Chair of the Iowa Board of Social Work. 

He chaired the ethics committee for NASW Iowa Chapter and served as a clinical consultant for Human Services Agencies in Central Iowa, a family therapy consultant for the Greater Des Moines Child Abuse & Neglect Council, and a Diplomate in Clinical Social Work. 

Buchanan held additional leadership positions: as a president of the ASWB and former clinical chair of the Exam Committee of the ASWB. He was also a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics from August 2004 to July 2020. He was a faithful member of the NASW, after joining in 1979.

Biographical Data

Buchanan was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on March 19, 1954. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Drake University in 1976 and his Master's in Social Work from the University of Iowa in 1979. 
He devoted time to the Boy Scouts of America. He was an Eagle Scout and a Vigil Member, Order of the Arrow. He enjoyed working closely with children and families, especially adolescent boys, giving them the support and guidance as they grew into healthy adults.

Significant Recognition and Awards

In 1996, Buchanan was honored with the Friend of Children Award from the Coalition of Family and Children's Services of Iowa. He was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award 1999 from the Child Abuse and Neglect Council. 

In 2001, Buchanan earned the Polk County Child Abuse and Prevention Compassion for Families Award, and the NASW Iowa Chapter named him Social Worker of the Year 2001. He was the recipient of the Star of Excellence Children's Service Provider Award given by Magellan Behavioral Care of Iowa for 2008. Finally, 

He received the Margaret Hess Leadership in Family Empowerment Life Award presented to him by Youth and Sheltered Services of Ames, Iowa, in 2012.

Significant Publications

  • Buchanan, B.D., (2003). Attachment Disorder, Helping Difficult Children Succeed. Published by Iowa State University for the Child Welfare Project of Iowa.
  • Buchanan, B.D., (2001). Juvenile Shoplifting Program Manual. Published by Mid-Iowa Council Boy Scouts of America.
  • Buchanan, B.D., & Scavo, R.R. (1989). Group therapy for male adolescent sex offenders: a model for residential treatment. Residential Treatment for Children and Youth, 7 (2), 59-74.

Buchanan gave dozens of presentations on a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to, ethical responsibilities, de-escalation and motivational interviewing, and attachment training.

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.