Katherine Kendall

Katherine Kendall (1910 – 2010)

Katherine Kendall, PhD, ACSW International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award

Click a quote below to view a video segment.
http://www.naswfoundation.org/imagesNew/bullet.gif “All well-educated people must have a world view.”
http://www.naswfoundation.org/imagesNew/bullet.gif “When you know you have really helped, it makes life nice.”
http://www.naswfoundation.org/imagesNew/bullet.gif “This award recognizes all the things I have loved, and that makes me very proud.”

Katherine Kendall passed away December 1, 2010.

Kendall was closely identified with major development in social work education over more than five decades. As Executive Secretary of the American Association of Schools of Social Work in 1951-1952, she played a major role in bringing the Association and its graduate school membership in the Council on Social Work Education.

CSWE was launched as a result of the merger of three organizations. Kendall became its first Educational Secretary with responsibility for curriculum consultation and related educational services. As Associate Director, Executive Director, and Director of International Education, she remained with the Council until 1971. She also served as 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 CSWE and Secretary General of the IASSW. When IASSW established an independent Secretariat in 1971, Kendall became its first full-time paid Secretary-General. Although she retired in 1978, she continued to give volunteer service to the Council as an honorary life member of the Board and to the IASSW as an Honorary Life President and member of the Board.

Born in Scotland, Kendall came to the United States in 1920 and became a naturalized citizen in 1940. She earned a BA degree in 1933, University of Illinois; an MA in Social Work in 1939, Louisiana State University; and a PhD degree in Social Service Administration in 1950, University of Chicago.

From 1947 to 1950, she served as Social Affairs Officer with the United Nations where she produced Training for Social Work: An International Survey. Kendall then went to the US Children’s Bureau where she was Assistant Director of the Inter-American Unit and Training Supervisor for the International Service. During World War II, she worked for the American Red Cross as Assistant Director for Training, Home Service.

Kendall served on the faculties of the University of Chicago; the Richmond School of Social Work; the School of Social Work at Howard University; and held a Carnegie Visiting Professorship at the University of Hawaii School of Social Work. She inaugurated the first Henry and Lucy Moses Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the School of Social Work, Hunter College. She was Executive Secretary, Council of Advisors to Hunter College, its School of Social Work and the Lois and Samuel Silberman Fund. Her leadership in social work education has been widely recognized. CSWE presented her with the Distinguished Service Award, the Council’s gold medal, and she was the first recipient of the Significant Lifetime Achievement Award. Kendall received numerous honorary doctorate degrees. A scholarship has been established in her name at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work.

Kendall worked closely with the UN, UNICEF, and the Organization of American States. She continued to serve as an official non-governmental representative for the IASSW at both the UN and UNICEF.  In 1991, the IASSW established the Katherine A. Kendall Award for Distinguished Service in International Social Work Education.  Among her volunteer work, was serving on the International Council on Social Welfare U.S. Committee (ICSW-US) for many years.  She has written more than 100 articles and books. She was a member of NASW for nearly 50 years and she served as a member of the NASW Social Work Pioneers® Steering Committee. In 2002, she was awarded the NASW Foundation’s International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award for significantly advancing the public image of social work.

In September 2010, friends, family, and collegues celebrated her 100th birthday with her at an event that drew attendees from across the country.


  1. Martin B. Tracy

    I became acquainted with Katherine while serving on the CSWE International Committee late in her long, productive life. She was a constant source of amazement and admiration. Gracious to a fault, she opened up her heart and home to her numerous admirers. The Social Work profession has lost a true champion of international awareness and engagement.

  2. I served on the Board of the International Association of Social Work with Katherine Kendall and grew to know her and love her. I have marvellous memories of times shared in different parts of the world and most recently visiting her in Collington. She has left an impressive legacy. May her soul Rest in Peace. Ann Lavan, Ireland

  3. Marja Lindsey Reed

    “A candle loses nothing by lighting another.” ~James Keller

    Katherine found out in 1987 that I was working on my Bachelors of Social Work and declared that she was going to be my mentor. And mentor she did. What a joy and an honor it was to know her and to be part of her extension colleagues/friends.

    I reflect today on the many, many memories that had Katherine at the center.

  4. Ken and Margery Carpenter

    The field of social work has lost a dear friend as we have personally. She was a lovely hostess and we enjoyed a number of visits with her at Collington. She was a member of our ICSWUS Committee steering committee and contribued a great deal in our discussions and program planning. She will be missed.

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