International Social Work Leader Review

International Social Work Leader Review

CSWE’s Commission on Global Social Work Education and the Katherine A. Kendall Institute collaborate to offer the International Social Work Leader Review. Each quarter the Review features an individual who has made significant contributions to international social work education with ties to the United States. In the spirit of Katherine A. Kendall’s life and work, these highlighted leaders are recognized as influencers in the global social work community whose efforts have made important advancements in social work education and practice.

Winnie Mandela

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was born in 1936 in South Africa. Her father was a local history teacher who later worked for the local government. Her mother taught science. Winnie was one of nine siblings. When she was 9 years old, she had an experience that would influence her trajectory in life. World War II had ended, and there was to be a celebration in her town. When she and her family arrived, they were not permitted to enter because the event was for Whites only. This opened her eyes to the injustices in her society. She had more similar experiences in her childhood and youth, and they left an imprint on her. Learn more here.


Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler was not known as one of the international leaders of social, however, she was a fierce advocate and nurse during World War II. At the age of 29, during the war she served as a social worker and senior social administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department. Through some rather unconventional methods, Irena was able to assist families, develop relationships, establish community trust, and provide relief to many during this time. In her later years, Sendler received numerous awards and recognition for her many accomplishments in the field of international social work. Learn more here.


Doreen Elliott, PhD, LMSW-AP

Dr. Doreen Eliott was a renowned social work educator and scholar who made groundbreaking contributions to the theory and practice of international social work education and global development. Her enthusiasm and dedication led her to become an outstanding social worker, distinguished professor, gifted researcher and innovator, prolific writer, and a committed mentor and advisor. Throughout her career she strived to advance theories as well as practical strategies to expand the scope of international social work education. She left a legacy that continues to shape the role of international social work education as a subfield within social work. Learn more here


Previous Featured Leaders



Alice Salomon

Dr. Alice Salomon, scholar, educator, international women’s activist, and peace advocate is often referred to as "The Mother of Social Work in Germany” and in North America as the “Jane Addams of Germany.” Learn more here


Sattareh Farman Farmaian 

Sattareh Farman Farmaian was the founder of social work as a profession in Iran. Learn more here