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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Jonathan B. Singer

Specific Pioneering Contributions 

Jonathan B. Singer, PhD, LCSW, has been a trailblazer in the social work profession as the founder and host of the Social Work Podcast (, the first podcast by and for social workers, founded in 2007 while he was still a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also renowned for his clinical expertise in suicide prevention and intervention.

As of March 2023, the Social Work Podcast has published 135 episodes and has had 8 million downloads, with an international monthly audience of 40,000 listeners and 50,000 followers on social media. Singer’s efforts as the founder, creator, and host of this podcast have made an enormous impact on members of the social work profession, including social work students from universities across the globe. The podcast has also brought knowledge about the social work profession to the general public. Singer has inspired and mentored emerging social work professionals to start their own podcasts through sharing his expertise and skills with others. These publications, presentations, and his presence on various social media platforms, such as Twitter, have made a lasting mark. He has written on “podcasting as scholarship” and authored an Oxford bibliography on podcasting and social work.  

Faculty from across the U.S. and other countries utilize his podcasts for their classes. Faculty assign episodes from the Social Work Podcast as classroom assignments to encourage students to go deeper into social work theories, practice techniques, policies, and ethics. Interviewees include world-renowned scholars, national experts, and practitioners in the field who are working in the field. These episodes bring theory to life. He was named a “Social Work Hero” by the University of Southern California in 2013 for his work on the podcast. 

Singer is a nationally recognized expert and leader in the field of suicide prevention and intervention, as well. He was elected president of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) in 2019 and is co-author of the book Suicide in Schools, published in 2015. He has written and presented extensively on suicide, and has conducted numerous media interviews as a sought-after expert on suicide-related topics.  

Career Highlights 

Singer began his career in crisis services and home-based family therapy in 1996. He became an adjunct social work professor in 2002 and has been a full-time social work professor since 2008. Other highlights include: his work with Austin-Travis County MH/MR providing crisis services and homebased family therapy for English and Spanish-speaking families in Austin, Texas (1996-2002); his adjunct professorship at UT-Austin (2002-2004); the official creation of the Social Work Podcast (2007); social work professorships at Temple University and Loyola University Chicago; NASW SPS CAYA committee member; and in 2019 being elected president of AAS. In the spring of 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, in his role as AAS president, he was instrumental in converting a major national conference from in-person to virtual. He received the MeetingsNet Changemaker Award for this accomplishment.  

Biographic Data 

Jonathan B. Singer was born August 11, 1970, in Bloomington, Indiana. He received his PhD in Social Work from University of Pittsburgh in 2009, Master of Science in Social Work from University of Texas at Austin in 1996, and Bachelor of Arts in Human Development with honors from Earlham College in 1992. He studied advanced jazz at Conservatoire National de Région (Lyon, France) in 1993.  

Significant Recognition and Awards 

Singer’s extensive list of awards and recognitions is indicative of his impact within the social work profession and beyond: MeetingsNet Changemaker Award for pivoting AAS20 from in-person to online, 2020; Sigma Delta Chi award for Research on Journalism, 2019; “Most Read Article,” New Social Worker Magazine, Suicide Risk in Schools, 2018; Top 50 Social Work Blogs, 2017; Lucille N. Austin Scholar, Columbia University School of Social Work, 2017; NASW Media Award for Best Magazine Article Let's Talk About Suicide: #LanguageMatters, 2016; Commendation from the Council of Delaware County for Suicide in Schools, 2015; “Social Work Hero,” University of Southern California, 2013; Fellow, OBSSR/NIH Summer Institute on Social and Behavioral Intervention Research, 2012; NASW Media Award “Best Website” – Social Work Podcast, 2012; Fellow, Annie E. Casey Common Elements Institute (UMB and UCLA), 2010; Pre-doctoral fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 2007 and 2008; Fellow, NIMH Rochester Summer Research Institute in Suicide Prevention, 2006; Cultural Diversity Award, ATCMHMR, October 2001; and Charles W. Laughton Memorial Endowed Presidential Scholarship, UT – Austin, 1996.

Significant Publications 

While Singer has many significant publications, many are unique in that they provide practical tools and resources for social workers to use in their practice. He is the leading expert on podcasting in social work and, through his scholarship, he has demonstrated the significance of podcasting as a powerful learning tool. 

Erbacher, T., Singer, J. B., & Poland, S. (2015). Suicide in Schools: A practitioner’s guide to multi-level prevention, assessment, intervention and postvention. Routledge. ISBN: 9780415857031 
Singer, J. B., & Gomez, A. J. (2022). Podcasts and Social Work. Oxford Annotated Bibliographies. New York: Oxford University Press.  
Singer, J. B. (2019) Podcasting as social scholarship: A tool to increase the public impact of scholarship and research. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 10, 571-590. 
Singer, J. B., Erbacher, T. A., & Rosen, P. (2019). School-based suicide prevention: A framework for evidence-based practice. School Mental Health, (11), 54–71. 
Singer, J. B. (2017) Identifying and responding to suicide risk in schools. Psychiatric Annals, 47, 401 - 405. 

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.