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Richard Barth Elected Social Work Pioneer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Association of Social Workers Foundation (NASWF) on Oct. 14 will commemorate the 27th anniversary of its NASW Social Work Pioneers® program with a celebration featuring some of the most influential social workers in the nation, including the posthumous induction of NAACP co-founder William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B.” DuBois (1868-1963).


During the event, the NASW Foundation will induct DuBois and 25 other social workers into its Pioneers program, which was created to honor social workers who have contributed to the evolution and enrichment of the profession.

“For nearly three decades, the NASW Foundation has recognized the outstanding achievements of Social Work Pioneers, individuals who have truly elevated the profession,” said Brian Williams, Acting Assistant Director of the NASW Foundation. “These pioneers have left an indelible mark on social work, spearheading the development of countless human services programs and government policies, which have positively impacted the lives of individuals from all walks of society. This year, we’re pleased to celebrate these remarkable individuals and their extraordinary contributions to the social work profession.”


Two visionary social worker, Ruth Knee and Mark Battle, conceived this program so that the contributions of social workers would be chronicled and historically preserved. Inductee DuBois published the first research on the Black community in his book The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study and History of Pennsylvania's Black American Population; their Education, Environment and Work (The University of Pennsylvania; 1899). It emphasized the person in environment vs. the use of a deficit model from the Settlement House perspective that was in use at that time. DuBois, the first African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University in 1895, was one of the founding members of the School of Social Work at Atlanta University and wrote his most well-known book The Souls of Back Folk (‎‎A. C. McClurg and Co.; 1903).

Richard P. Barth has made outstanding contributions in social work research, practice, and policy, including the protection and safety of children cared for in public institutions. He is a professor and former dean of the School of Social Work, University of Maryland and a founding Fellow and President of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW). Barth also co-chaired the Society for Social Work Research (SSWR) new initiatives committee that established the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research. He now Chairs the Executive Committee of the Grand Challenges for Social Work which he helped to establish.


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