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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Mark Lusk

Specific Pioneering Contributions

Mark Lusk, PhD, continues a social work career that has spanned over four decades, serving as University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) College of Health Sciences Professor Emeritus. He has taught thousands of social work students and mentored numerous colleagues, academics and social work practitioners. Lusk has been a tenured full professor and administrator at seven major state universities and visiting professor at universities in Peru, Brazil, Costa Rica, Morocco, and Guyana.

Lusk’s primary legacy has been as a leader in social work and international education. Lusk was the founding chair and director of the University of Texas at El Paso Department of Social Work where he developed the Master of Social Work degree program, The concentration of the MSW is Social Work in the Border Region. At UTEP, Lusk also served as associate dean of the UTEP College of Health Sciences. UTEP is a minority-serving institution with an 84% majority Hispanic student body.

As a social work research pioneer, Lusk has published more than 100 refereed journal articles and book chapters, 14 research monographs, and co-authored or co-edited three books. In 2023, Lusk co-edited a fourth book on Human Rights, Social Work and Decolonization, now in publication.  His two most significant lines of research were based on a decade of field research with street children in Latin America. Over the past decade, Lusk has conducted extensive field work with forced migrants and refugees from Latin America. He manages an active program in human rights and migration.

At Boise State University, Lusk was the founding director of the School of Social Work where he developed the MSW program with CSWE accreditation. He obtained funding for MSW students through the Title IV-E Program and was awarded Idaho Social Worker of the Year by NASW.

Lusk has worked in more than 40 countries in international development and education projects funded by the U.S. Department of State, Ford Foundation, InterAmerican Development Bank, Asian Development, World Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and the US Information Agency. These projects primarily focused on community development, farmer organizations, as well as primary and higher education development.

Career Highlights

Lusk has been awarded two Senior Fulbright Fellowships in Peru and Brazil, respectively.

At the University of Georgia (UGA), Lusk was associate provost of International Affairs; and under his leadership, UGA advanced to the top five nationally for percent of students studying abroad. At the University of Montana, Lusk was director of International Programs and Assistant Vice President for Research, a position in which he oversaw all aspects of international Programs. He also served as director of International Programs at Oregon State University.

At UTEP, Lusk directed a project funded by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to train bilingual, culturally competent social workers for mental health. This included a technical assistance component of nearly $100,000 to develop curriculum modules for schools of social work.

Lusk developed and taught an innovative class in Spanish called Evaluacion e Intervencion en Español (Assessment & Intervention), a course that teaches BSW/MSW students to work with Hispanic clients using culturally competent methods.

Lusk has been a member of NASW since 1978, when he received his MSW from the University of Kentucky. His primary area of practice is health and mental health. HE has worked as a clinic director of a psychiatric hospital, as a social work supervisor at a regional medical center, and as a consultant in rehabilitation centers and a hospice.  Lusk is currently licensed in Texas as an LMSW. He was previously licensed as a LCSW in Wyoming and as a LMSW in Kentucky and Utah.

Lusk served on the board of directors of NASW Texas, the International Commission of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and was a commissioner for the North American Region on the Human Rights Commission of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW).

Biographic Data

Lusk completed his primary education in Paraguay and graduated from secondary school at Colegio Nueva Granada in Bogotá Colombia.  He graduated from New Mexico State University and received his MA and PhD from the University of Kentucky. His dissertation was completed in Peru where he conducted a national review of social work education in that country. He returned to Peru a few years later as a Fulbright Scholar and taught at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. He was awarded a second Fulbright to teach at the Graduate School of Social Work at the Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Lusk has lived and worked in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay, Guyana, Costa Rica and Brazil.

Significant Recognition and Awards

Lusk’s awards include: the Albert Almendariz Lifetime Achievement in Civil Rights Award, Texas Civil Rights Project, 2014; Lifetime Achievement Award, National Association of Social Workers, Rio Grande Region, Texas, 2012; Idaho NASW Social Worker of the Year, 1996; Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society, 2001; Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society, 2008; Mentorship of Women Award, Council on Social Work Accreditation, Commission on Women, 2010; and Utah State University Social Sciences Researcher of the Year, 1987 and 1992.

Significant Publications

Recent articles include:

Georgina Sánchez García, Paula Sánchez Santamaria, María del Carmen Montenegro Núñez & Lusk Lusk (2022).  La migración como fuente de vulneración de los derechos humanos de la niñez. (Migration as a source of violation of children’s rights). Estudios Fronterizos, 23(106) 1-19.

Georgina Sanchez Garcia, Lusk Lusk & Paula Sanchez Santamaria (2022). Trauma and Resilience among Migrant Children from Mexico and the Northern Triangle en Route to the United States. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare. 49(23), 25-49.

Gabriel Ibarra-Mejía, Lusk Lusk & Emre Umucu (2022). Mental Health among College Students during the COVID -19 Pandemic at a Hispanic Serving Institution. Health Promotion Practice. DOI: 10.1177/15248399221092750

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.