Previously Featured Social Work Leaders

Dr. Nazneen Sada Mayadas (1934–2015)

Dr. Nazneen Sada Mayadas PhotoDr. 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. Learn more here.

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



Winnie Mandela (1936–2018)

Winnie Mandela Photo

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. Learn more here.

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


Irena Sendler (1910–2008)

Irena Sendler PhotoIrena 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.

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


Dr. Doreen Elliott (1941–2018)

Dr. Doreen Elliott PhotoDr. 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.

Reviewed by: CSWE Commission on Global Social Work Education

Alice Salomon (1872–1948)

Dr. 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.” 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. Learn more here.

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)

Sattareh Farman Farmaian PhotoSattareh 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. Learn more here.

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