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Kendall, Katherine

in: People

Katherine A.  Kendall (1910 – 2010): Social Work Pioneer, Educator and First Educational Secretary of the Council of Social Work Education


Katherine A. Kendall
Katherine A. Kendall
Photo: NASW Foundation

Introduction:  Katherine A.  Kendall was closely identified with major developments in social work education in the United States and internationally over four decades.  As Executive Secretary of the American Association of Schools of Social Work in 1951 and 1952, she played a major role in bringing the Association and its graduate school membership into the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).  The Council was launched in 1952 as a result of a merger of three organizations and Dr.  Kendall became its first Educational Secretary with responsibility for curriculum consultation and all related educational services.  As Associate Director, Executive Director, and Director of International Education, she remained with the Council until 1971.  While with the Council, she also served from 1954 as the elected volunteer Secretary of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW).  From 1966 to 1971, she moved entirely into international work, with shared responsibilities as Director of International Education for the Council and Secretary General of the IASSW.  When the IASSW established and independent Secretariat in 1971, Dr.  Kendall became its first full-time paid Secretary-General.  Although retired from this position in 1978, she continued to give volunteer service to the Council as an honorary life member of the Board of Directors and to the IASSW as an Honorary Life President and member 0f its Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

Dr.  Kendall served on the faculties of the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, the Richmond School of Social Work, the School of Social Work of Howard University, andin 1960-61  she was

granted a sabbatical by CSWE to accept a Carnegie Visiting Professorship at the University of Hawaii School of Social Work.  Following her retirement, she was recruited by Hunter College for the 1983-84 academic year to inaugurate the first Henry and Lucy Moses Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the School of Social Work.  She then accepted a part-time position of Executive Secretary, Council of Advisers to Hunter College, its School of Social Work, and the Lois and Samuel Silberman Fund which she held until 1987 when she decided to leave New York to live in a retirement community in Mitchellville, MD until her death in 2010.

Professional Career: Born in Muir-of-Ord, Ross-shire, Scotland on September 8, 1910, Katherine Kendall came with her family to the United States in 1920.  Kendall returned to Europe in 1933 where she lived in London, Oxford, and Madrid until 1936.  She became a naturalized U.S. Citizen in 1940.  She earned the following degrees:  Bachelor of Arts, 1933, University of Illinois;  Master of Arts in Social Work, 1939, Louisiana State University; and Ph.D. from School of Social Service Administration, 1950, University of Chicago.

Prior to joining the Council she served from 1947 to 1950 as Social Affairs Officer with the United Nations where she produced Training for Social Work:  An International Survey, the first in a U.N.  series on this subject.  She went to the United Nations from the U.S.  Children’s Bureau where from 1945 to 1947 she was Assistant Director of the Inter-American Unit and Training Supervisor for the International Service.  During the years of World War II, she worked for the American Red Cross as Assistant Director for Training, Home Service, in the Eastern Area Office.  Her previous positions included direct service and supervisory responsibilities in both public and private agencies.

Katherine Kendall’s responsibilities at the Council enabled her to work closely with schools of social work, agencies, and government officials throughout the United States where her leadership on al aspects of social work education was recognized.  In 1966, she was presented with the Council’s Distinguished Service Award; in 1971 she was awarded the Coucil’s gold medal; and in 1991 she was the first recipient of the Council’s Significant Lifetiem Achievement Award.  She has been recognized at the University of Chicago with a Professional Achievement Award from the University  Alumni Association and a Distinguished Alumni Citation from the School of Social Service Administration.  Louisiana State University has given her a number of awards, including an honorar doctorate.  She has also received honorary doctorates from Syracuse University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Illinois.  A scholarship in her name has been established by the George Warren Brown School of Social Work of Washington University.

Her work with the IASSW together with a number of foreign assignments led through the four decades to extensive travel and consultation with educational institutions and governments in every continent.  She worked closely with the United Nations, UNICEF, and the Organization of American States, undertaking special missions and leading or participating in numerous seminars and expert working groups.  She continued to serve as an official non-governmental representative for the IASSW at both U.N. and UNICEF.  In 1991, the IASSW established the Katherine A.  Kendall Award for Distinguished Service in International Social Work Education which was presented for the first time in 1992 at the 27th International Congress of Schools of Social Work held in connection with the World Assembly in 1992.

Republished from : NASW Foundation

For further reading: The Katherine A. Kendall papers are available through the University of Minnesota Social Welfare History Archives

How to Cite this Article (APA Format): NASW Foundation. (2004). Katherine A. Kendall (1910-2010): Social work pioneer, educator and first Educational Secretary of the Council of Social Work Education. Social Welfare History Project. Retrieved [date accessed] from