Claudia Coulton

Distinguished University Professor Claudia Coulton named ‘Social Work Pioneer’ by National Association of Social Workers

Blazing trails is one thing, but to be named a national Social Work Pioneer is quite another.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) selected Claudia Coulton, a Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University, as a 2019 Social Work Pioneer.

The NASW distinction is reserved for a select group of social workers who have “explored new territories and built outposts for human services on many frontiers.”

Coulton and her fellow Pioneer recipients “have paved the way for thousands of other social workers to make their own contributions to the health and welfare of individuals and families facing significant challenges in both urban and rural communities,” according to the NASW announcement.

Coulton, the Lillian F. Harris Professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, is also the founding director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. She’s also a charter member of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the premier honor society for social workers. She first became inspired to study urban poverty during the height of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign. 

“It’s quite an honor to have been selected for this distinction,” said Coulton, who joined the Mandel School faculty in 1978. “It’s even more special that I was selected by my social work colleagues from around the nation.”

The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development addresses the problems of persistent and concentrated urban poverty and is dedicated to understanding how social and economic changes affect low-income communities and their residents.

Under her leadership, the center has built a model for contributing data for use in community initiatives and research. It includes the creation of a dynamic neighborhood indicators portal (NEO CANDO), a parcel-based collaborative action platform (NST) and a longitudinal multi-agency record linkage system (CHILD).

“Being named an NASW Social Work Pioneer is a very significant recognition of the contributions that she has made throughout her career,” said Mandel School Dean Grover Gilmore. “We are fortunate to know Dr. Coulton as a superb teacher and colleague who is always ready to assist and support those in the university and the community. She is a person who seeks no attention for herself, but one who deserves to be lauded for her contributions.”

For more information, contact Colin McEwen at