Singer Named "Social Work Pioneer" by NASW
Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work proudly announces that Professor Jonathan Singer, Ph.D. has been named a Social Work Pioneer by the National Association of Social Workers. This prestigious recognition comes in light of Singer’s exceptional contributions to the field of social work, particularly in his innovative work with technology.
Social Work Pioneers
NASW recognized 25 new Social Work Pioneers in its 2023 class as “social workers who have contributed to the evolution and enrichment of the profession.” In a career full of incredible accomplishments, the one that best exemplifies Singer’s impact on the field is the creation of the Social Work Podcast. Founded in 2007 as the first podcast by and for social workers, Singer has been using the platform to amplify important voices in the field of social work. The success of the podcast has allowed thought-leaders and researchers to present their ideas to a global audience. His pioneering work on the podcast largely contributed to Singer winning the 2012 NASW Media Award and being recognized as a “Social Work Hero” in 2013 by the University of Southern California.
“When I started the podcast, I hoped that a handful of social work students would find my summaries of practice theories useful,” Singer said on the podcast’s most recent episode. “I went to conferences and I handed out Social Work Podcast bookmarks and I explained what a podcast was, mostly to polite but disinterested academics.”
Impact of the Podcast
One hundred thirty-five episodes, 8 million downloads, and 40,000 monthly listeners in 208 countries and territories later, Singer’s podcast is renowned in the social work community and beyond. Social work students regularly look for podcast episodes to supplement their studies. Educators include episodes in their course syllabi. Episodes explore a wide range of topics, including crisis and psychosocial interventions, religion and spirituality, social work and policing, shared trauma, social work licensure, and more.
“It is a huge honor to be recognized alongside people I have looked up to for years,” Singer said. “You know, until I arrived at Loyola, I was told that podcasting was a waste of my time because it didn’t get me any closer to getting a grant or publishing in a top-tier journal. I knew that students, providers, and many of my academic colleagues around the country appreciated the ease of access, the content, and the price.”
A common topic on the Social Work Podcast is suicidology and suicide prevention, of which Singer is a leading authority in social work. In 2019, Singer was elected president of the American Association of Suicidology, then the largest membership-based suicide prevention organization in the world. Within weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the USA, his embrace of technology helped convert a 2,000 attendee international conference from in-person to virtual in three weeks. For that feat, he and the AAS staff were presented the 2020 MeetingsNet Changemaker Award.
Continuing His Legacy
Though Singer’s work has already earned him plenty of awards and honors in his career, he said he has a lot still to give and hopes to continue to make an impact on the social work profession.
“Being named a pioneer for my efforts to bring podcasting to social work is more validation that this will be my lasting legacy. That said, it is also a little strange because ‘pioneer’ and ‘legacy’... those sound like words you use for someone at the end of their career,’ he said. “Although I’ve been a social worker for over 25 years and podcasting for 15 years, I feel like I’m solidly in the middle of my career. I might have a different answer in 25 years.”
Singer earned his MSW from UT-Austin in 1996 and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009. He joined the social work faculty at Loyola University Chicago as an associate professor in 2015. He is the author of more than 85 publications, including the 2015 book Suicide in Schools: A Practitioner’s Guide to Multilevel Prevention, Assessment, Intervention, and Postvention.
Since its launch in 1994, the Social Work Pioneer program has inducted almost 900 accomplished individuals to its rolls. The 2023 class of pioneers will be honored at the NASW Social Work Pioneers 17th Annual Celebration on October 14, 2023.