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.
Vimla V. Nadkarni (1948 - 2021)
Although small in stature, Vimla Nadkarni (née Lala) was a giant in shaping both Indian and global social work. Professor Nadkarni is well-known internationally for her work as President of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) from 2012–2016, although she was active in many areas of international social work and served on numerous international projects, editorial, and advisory boards. She headed the Department of Medical and Psychiatric Social Work and was the Founding Dean of the School of Social Work at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, India, from which she retired in 2013 after 42 years of service.
Professor Nadkarni was motivated throughout her life by feminism, a passion for human rights and human dignity, and a drive to elevate the quality of social work education and practice. She served as the Secretary General of the Family Planning Association of India (2001–2002), President of the Bombay Association of Trained Social Workers for two terms (1994–1998), and Vice President for two additional terms (2011–2015). Professor Nadkarni was instrumental in establishing the Indian Association of Social Work Education in 2013 and served as Vice-President of the Association of Schools of Social Work in India (ASSWI). She was elected as a Member-at-Large of the Board of Directors of IASSW in 2008, and as President from 2012 to 2016 (https://www.iassw-aiets.org/). Professor Nadkarni was a founding member of the Social Work and Health Inequalities Network (SWHIN; https://blogs.coventry.ac.uk//swhin/). Prof Nadkarni served on the Advisory Board of the Global Institute of Social Work, Singapore (https://www.thegisw.org/); as Honorary Director for the Niramaya Health Foundation, Mumbai (an NGO focused on child and adolescent health); and the Advisory Group for the Mumbai-based Khula Aasman Trust, which uses the arts to engage social change for marginalised communities (https://www.instagram.com/khulaaasmantrust/?hl=en). She remained active throughout her entire life, serving on the Advisory Board for the 9th Social Work Congress of the National Association of Professional Social Workers in India, which was held in October 2021, just a month before her death.
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Reviewed By: Mark Henrickson, MDiv, MSW, PhD, RSW (NZ), Massey University
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For a list of previously featured leaders, click here.