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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Hank Cecil

Pioneering Contributions 

Hank Cecil, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, MA, MS, is renowned in the state of Kentucky for his unwavering commitment to micro, mezzo, and macro social work through his sustained ethical practice as the owner and founder of Starship Care, LLC (est 2018).  Cecil has built this nationally recognized and distinguished platform for social workers and mental health professionals to engage in cutting edge and best practice educational programming, from solo and small group private practice consultation to expertise in navigating healthcare data standards in the electronic world.  His expertise in telehealth has made him a national speaker on the subject.

Cecil was the among the first ethics course authors and presenters approved by the Kentucky Board of Social Work in 2000. He traversed the state of Kentucky for years teaching ethics because all courses were required to be in person, until the board allowed distance learning in 2014. To this day, he is revered as one of the most experienced ethics presenters in the state of Kentucky, recently creating the template for the new six-hour required LCSW Supervision course.

In 1998, Cecil returned to the NASW-KY Board of Directors to lead the rebuilding of the Kentucky chapter following the bankruptcy caused by the former executive director.  If not for Cecil’s exceptional business and leadership skills, the chapter would have been combined with another state chapter.  His guidance and commitment to restoring the chapter to its former position, as the leading social work association in Kentucky, showed his commitment to  ethical practice and sustainability.

During 2022-2023, Cecil again saved a critical entity: the Kentucky Board of Social Work.  Mismanagement, unprofessionalism, and unethical interpretation of statutes and regulations left the independent Board of Social Work facing swift consolidation with other mental health groups.  The Kentucky Governor had to file an emergency executive order to save those social workers, agencies, and potential payer sources from lawsuits. Cecil worked closely with the Governor’s office and boards and commissions to rectify this issue swiftly and within the appropriate regulatory guidelines.  If it were not for Cecil, the state would have lost one of the few remaining independent licensure boards in the country.  Without Cecil, over 7,000 licensed KY social workers would have been left in jeopardy, as well as our most vulnerable clients that we are licensed to protect.

In addition, Cecil worked with the Council of State Governments in Kentucky to prepare the required documents for its 2023 legislative session.  Without Cecil’s swift and focused assessments, the state would not have been ready to enter the interim session and pass critical legislation benefiting social workers. 

Career Highlights

Cecil began work in community mental health with Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, Inc. in Lexington, KY, after finishing his MSW as an addictions counselor. He worked with all age groups, both children and adults, including individuals with developmental delays ,and with the elderly. With his background in critical incident stress management, he has served with the KY Community Crisis Response Board for over 10 years.  

Cecil retired from Four Rivers Behavioral Health (FRBH) located in western KY in 2015. He served as their vice-president for quality and utilization, where he chaired their Quality Unitization and Review Committee, overseeing clinical records, maintaining the electronic health record, information technology, and HIPAA compliance for Four Rivers Behavioral Health. Cecil was the team lead for the conversion to their current electronic health record and supervised their information technology that included telehealth. 

He served as director for the Center for Community Support Programs (CCSP) for FRBH and oversaw its construction and program implementation. The CCSP provides emergency services for consumers with mental illness and substance use disorders and adult crisis stabilization. Cecil connected KY to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and was the first center to do so. Cecil was on the first joint team of mental health and law enforcement professionals to establish the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) in Region One for law enforcement. Cecil has supervised case managers, certified social workers, clinical social workers and other health professionals, therapeutic rehabilitation, peer support specialists, and supported employment specialists.  Cecil also worked at WellCare Health Plans as a quality practice advisor.

Cecil has conducted workshops for over 20 years in social work ethics, clinical supervision, Kentucky involuntary commitment laws, HIPAA, telehealth, use of technology in clinical practice, dual diagnoses, mental health and aging, end-of-life issues, suicide prevention and intervention, mental health laws in Kentucky, guardianship, psychological first aid, and emergency mental health assessments.  

Cecil has been the star of continuing education programs and has a following of social workers who will travel the length of our state to learn from him in person. Colleagues appreciate his commitment to engaging and educating his peers has been important during difficult transitions throughout the pandemic.  In fact, he led acclaimed monthly clinician support networks for NASW-KY during the pandemic.

In addition, Cecil was appointed by Governor Beshear to the Kentucky Board of Social Work Examiners in June of 2022 and currently serves as vice-chair. He joined the board at a time of serious concerns about dropped regulations and the impact on licensed social workers and those who held a temporary permit to practice.  He was critical in revamping the board processes and policies, including its code of conduct and board manual of operations.  Without his steadfast expertise and knowledge of statutes and regulations, the independent board faced the threat of being consolidated.  

Biographic Data

Cecil has five master’s degrees: his MSW from University of Kentucky, MA in Divinity and Religious Education from St. Meinrad School of Theology, MS in Health Information from Northern Kentucky University and two MS degrees from Murray State University: in Master of Cybersecurity Management and in Information Systems. 

Cecil is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Kentucky. He is a member of NASW and the Academy of Certified Social Workers. He served two terms as NASW-KY president, treasurer, and served on the legislative and ethics committees. He also served on the PACE committee as a member and as the treasurer. Cecil also served as a registered lobbyist for NASW Kentucky Chapter and drove nine hours to and from his home in Mayfield to Frankfort, often more than once a week, to meet with legislators. He is also a member of the Kentucky Society of Clinical Social Work and the American Association of Suicidology. 

He was a decade-long volunteer with the Kentucky Community Crisis Response Board (KCCRB) as their Region One mental health coordinator and served on the Board of Directors for four years. (KCCRB is the state agency that provides support and assistance to first responders and citizens in disasters and community crises.) He worked with Emergency Management and families in floods, tornados, drownings, fires, and school shootings. 

During the deadly Kentucky tornadoes in 2021 in his hometown of Mayfield, Cecil was pivotal in providing resources and support for his community in the aftermath of this devastating natural disaster. To this day, his commitment and leadership in his community has served the residents and community well as they continue to work through the aftermath of loss and destruction. 

Significant Recognition and Awards

Cecil was given a US Surgeon General Award 2010 for community crisis response. He was also honored as a Trainer for Law Enforcement in the Crisis Intervention Teams and by Kentucky Community Crisis Response Board.

Significant Publications 

Cecil is currently writing a Social Work and Telehealth Practice publication, along with an Ethics and Social Work publication.  He has written numerous supervision articles, as well as numerous policies for community mental health centers and crisis stabilization. Please review this website to learn more about Cecil’s work:

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.