Claudia Coulton Awarded ‘Social Work Pioneer’ by NASW

headshot of Claudia J. Coulton

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

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) selected Claudia J. Coulton, PhD 1978, a Distinguished University Professor at the Mandel School at Case Western Reserve University, as a 2019 Social Work Pioneer. Coulton is world-renowned for her groundbreaking work using data to address society’s most pressing problems.

The NASW distinction is one of the profession’s highest honors reserved for a select group of social workers who are role models for future generations of social workers, unique visionaries 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. Past Mandel School faculty and leadership who have been awarded as Social Work Pioneers are Grace Longwell Coyle, Nathan Cohen, Alvin Schorr, Herman D. Stein, John B. Turner, Ruby Pernell, Richard Edwards, Terry Hokenstad, and Darlyne Bailey.

“It’s quite an honor to have been selected for this distinction,” said Coulton, who became inspired to study urban poverty during the height of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign. “It’s even more special that I was selected by my social work colleagues from around the nation.”

“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.”

Coulton joined the faculty in 1978, upon graduating with her doctorate in social welfare from the Mandel School. She became full professor in 1984, the Lillian F. Harris Professor of Urban Research and Social Change in 1997, has served as chair of the doctoral program, and was Associate Dean for Research from 2003 to 2008.

Coulton is the founding director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, founded in 1988 to address the problems of persistent and concentrated urban poverty and dedicated to understanding how social and economic changes affect low-income communities and their residents. Under her leadership, the Poverty 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).

She is also the founder and an executive committee member of the National Neighborhoods Indicator Partnership (NNIP), a consortium of over 35 cities. A nationally-recognized expert on the foreclosure crisis, she has testified before Congress and is a lead researcher for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Making Connections research program.

Coulton is a charter member of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the premier honor society for social workers, and was awarded as one of their inaugural fellows in 2010.

Portions of this post first appeared in The Daily on August 5, 2019.