Previously Featured Social Work Leaders

Vimla V. Nadkarni (1948–2021)

Vimla-Nadkarni_1-2.jpgAlthough 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 died 20 November 2021.

Read Full Review
Reviewed by Mark Henrickson, PhD, MDiv, MSW, RSW (Massey University)

Dr. Nazneen Sada Mayadas (1934–2015)

nazneen-mayadas-2.jpgDr. Nazneen Sada Mayadas (1934–2015) was an international leader in social work who drew the world’s attention to the plight of refugees and sparked interest in international social work practice, bringing it into social work curricula across the United States and Canada. She earned worldwide recognition for her advocacy for refugees, especially in her work with the United Nations. A prolific researcher with extensively disseminated work, Dr. Mayadas was also well-known for her collaborations, publications, and speaking engagements held in countries across the globe. 

Read Full Review
Reviewed by: Ande Nesmith, PhD, LISW (University of St. Thomas)


Winnie Mandela (1936–2018)

winnie-mandela-1-0.jpegWinnie 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.

Read Full Review
Reviewed by: Rosemary Barbera, PhD, MS (LaSalle University)



Irena Sendler (1910–2008)

irena_Sendler_picture-2.jpgIrena 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.

Read Full Review
Reviewed by: Rebecca Thomas, PhD, MSW (University of Connecticut)


Dr. Doreen Elliott (1941–2018)

Doreen-Elliott-(1).jpegDr. 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.

Read Full Review
Reviewed by: CSWE Commission on Global Social Work Education


Alice Salomon (1872–1948)

Alice-Salomon-2.jpgDr. 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.” Salomon’s extensive work in theory and practice in the social work field was internationally recognized and culminated in numerous awards and accolades in the early 1930s.

Read Full Review
Reviewed by: Connie Gunderson, PhD, LISW (The College of St. Scholastica)
Joachim Wieler, PhD, MSW/ASW, Dipl.Sozialarbeiter (FH) (University of Applied Sciences, Germany)


Sattareh Farman Farmaian (1921–2010)

farmaian-2.jpgSattareh Farman Farmaian is known as the founder of social work as a profession in Iran. She developed the profession to fit the cultural and religious context in Iran, even coining the Farsi term for social worker madadacar (“one who helps”). Farmaian brought personal experience and professional expertise to her significant role as a leader in the global social work movement.

Read Full Review
Reviewed By: Mahasin Saleh, PhD, MSW, FHEA (Doha Institute of Graduate Studies, Qatar )