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
Elizabeth "Betsy" Cauble

Specific Pioneering Contributions

Elizabeth Cauble, PhD, MSW, is one of those pioneers in social work who has been quietly involved in making social changes that were little known but resulted in changing the course of history. As an advocate for inclusion and social justice, Cauble’s pioneering efforts began long before she became a social worker. She began her freshman year in college at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, the fall semester after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It was an extremely tense time in New Orleans, with the university often in lockdown due to riots. Cauble spent her spare time tutoring children in the public schools, where the education system was failing children of color. She participated in the marches for racial justice and added her voice to those who found themselves in an oppressive environment. 

While working for the Shriners’ Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Cauble’s vision for changing the environment for children with disabilities resulted in collaborations with physicians and subsequent training. Cauble worked to get special wheelchairs that could fit a child’s individual needs. In addition to finding funding for new wheelchairs, she received a $3.1 million grant for the construction of a parent accommodation center: a place where parents could stay, but also where services they needed were readily available. 

Cauble is also known for introducing in-home services in state child welfare systems. While working for Franklin County Children’s Services (Ohio), as a regional director, Cauble learned of the revolving door for many children in foster care. A specific story was the catalyst: Cauble became aware of a 12-year-old child who had been in twenty-six placements. Her mother was a heroin addict and, from time to time, was incapable of caring for her child. Because the child kept trying to return to her mother, Cauble worked with the team to place her in a duplex where the mother lived next door.  In-home services were not considered an option at that time, but Cauble decided to send activity specialists into homes to work with parents to learn how to play and interact with their children to stabilize the child’s living situation. This decision opened the door for in-home services, to prevent removal of children from their families. 

Career Highlights

Cauble’s career highlights could be described as “quietly moving the mountain.” While working at the Wallace Village for Children, in Broomfield, Colorado, Cauble trained with a multidisciplinary team, creating “family systems”. 

Cauble was one of the first social workers in Colorado to engage law enforcement on domestic violence calls. Having someone with the skills and experience in de-escalating situations changed the way law enforcement responded to these calls. 

Advocacy on a system level has been a passion for Cauble. When licensing for family therapists was up for consideration in her state, Cauble formed a coalition of social workers to support family therapists who might need specific training requirements in the proposed legislation. Nationally, Cauble conducted advocacy work on behalf of NASW, along with others, to move what had been a trust, and establish NASW/ASI.     

Cauble has served in major leadership roles throughout her career. She served as president of the faculty/senate at Kansas State University. She served on the NASW National Board and on the NASW Assurances Services Board (NASW/ASI) and was president of the board for three years. Cauble currently serves on the board of the NASW Risk Retention Group (RRG) and on the board of the NASW Insurance Company (NASWIC). 

Cauble has served as a national expert and trainer on ethics and risk management for NASW/ASI since the inception of the program. She continues, with colleagues, to provide webinars for the NASW Chapters and for those who hold the NASW malpractice insurance. 

Biographic Information

Cauble was born January 15, 1950, in Pickstown, South Dakota. At the time she was born, her parents were working for the company that was building the dam across the Missouri river. Cauble is an only child. Her father was an accountant who had a baseball career before WWII, and the family moved to wherever the team he was on was located, first to California and then to Denver, Colorado. 

When asked how she chose social work as her profession, Cauble tells of life experiences, first in college and then in her early work experiences, that all pointed her to social work. After completing a BA in Psychology from the University of Colorado, she returned a few years later to complete her MSW Degree and finally, her PhD at the University of Minnesota. 

Significant Recognitions and Awards

She received both the 1995 William L. Stamey Teaching Award, for excellence in undergraduate teaching and the 2004 Kansas Chapter NASW, Social Worker of the Year

Publication Highlights

Cauble, A. Elizabeth, Janice Dinkel and Don Kurtz. 2005.  Social Workers and Agricultural Security. Food Safety and Security Web Site, Kansas State University,
Cauble, A. Elizabeth and Janice Dinkel, 2002. The Development of a Multimedia Training Project. Journal of Technology in Human Services 20 (3/4): 345-368.  Haworth Press Inc. 
Cauble, A. Elizabeth. (2001) Privatized Child Welfare Services in Kansas: History, Implementation, and Practice.  Title IV-E Training Web Site, The University of Kansas,
Cauble, A.E. and Thurston, L.P. (2000). Effects of interactive multimedia training on knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy of Social Work Students.  Journal of Research on Social Work Practice. 10(4): 428-437.
Cauble, A.E. and Dinkel, J.M.  (1999). Social workers and technology: challenges of the multidisciplinary team.  Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education.  (2), 4-13.    

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.