Abramovitz, Mimi | DSW

Email: iabramov@hunter.cuny.edu

Mimi Abramovitz, Bertha Capen Reynolds Professor Emerita received her BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan and her MSW (in community organization) and DSW (in social policy and economics) from Columbia School of Social Work. During the past four decades she taught social policy at Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College and the Social Welfare Doctoral Program, The Graduate Center, CUNY. She also served as consortia faculty at the Graduate Center’s School of Labor and Urban Studies. An engaged faculty member, at Silberman, Mimi also cofounded the specialized Policy Track for community organization students; served as the long-term chair the Social Policy Curriculum area, as well as chair of the school’s Curriculum Committee (three years) and a member of the Dean’s Council.

Her research interests include women, the US welfare state, poverty, inequality, activism, and the impact of public policy on human service organizations–all viewed through the lens of history, political economy, race, class, and patriarchy. Her books include Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy from Colonial Times to the Present (Routledge, 4th ed forthcoming, 2025); The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy (Oxford, 4th ed., 2014); Taxes Area Women’s Issue: Reframing the Debate (Feminist Press, 2006); Under Attack, Fighting Back: Women and Welfare in the US (Monthly Review 2nd ed. 2000) (named the “Outstanding Book on the Subject of Intolerance “by the Myers Human Rights Center). She is currently writing her fifth the book, Gendered Obligations: The History of Activism Among Black and White Working-Class Women Since 1900.

Widely read in social work, Abramovitz is one of a small group of social worker scholars to cross over into the social sciences, including in sociology, history, and women studies. In addition to her books and more than 100 academic articles/chapters (20 since 2020), numerous keynote addresses, and countless national and international conference and webinar presentations, her contributions have reached beyond the academy to the media and to public policy discourses. She is also an associate editor of the first-ever Encyclopedia of Macro Social Work (Oxford University Press, 2023).

Trained in community organizing and social policy, Dr. Abramovitz is known as an activist as well as a scholar. Pre-MSW, Abramovitz worked as a welfare worker, but also as a welfare rights, trade union, and community organizer. Once in the academy she co-founded The Hunter College Welfare Rights (now in its 20th year) that helps students on public assistance to stay in college; the Undoing Racism Internship Project that for seven years trained students for anti-racist organizing in New York City social work schools; and the Social Welfare Action Alliance (now in its 20th year) that attracts activist social workers  interested in advocacy and social change.

An NASW member since 1967 Abramovitz served on the National Commission on Women’s Issues, a National Symposium Steering Committee, and the NYC Chapter/NASW Task Force on Welfare Reform. She also served on three different CSWE Commissions (i.e., Women, Diversity, and Research). Currently a leader in “Macro United Movement,” she serves on the Special Commission to Advance Macro Social Work and co-leads the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign (aka Voting Is Social Work) .In this role she is regularly invited to speak webinars on voter mobilization, voter suppression and the current status of US Democracy. Dr, Abramovitz served as an early member of the Affilia editorial board and continues to serve on the boards of Influencing Social Policy (ISP) and the Social Work Democracy Project. She also works with Association for Community Organizing and Social Action (ACOSA) and the Social Welfare History Group.

Given that social workers are located in the intersection of the individual and society, Abramovitz says that we are “well positioned use this knowledge to promote both individual growth and social change.” Over the years, her articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, MS Magazine, the Nation, The American Prospect and The Women’s Review of Books her letters to the editor of the New York Times and herpodcasts ,webinars,, radio and TV interviews have influencedsocial workers, social scientists, and policy makers. Numerous students have told Mimi that the book’s gender analysis “changed their lives” and their “sense of themselves as a woman.

Honors and Awards

2023: Awarded honorary doctorate Lund University; Lund Sweden
2022p Hunter College Presidential Award for Lifetime Excellence in Achievement
2019: Leadership Award Building an Inclusive Economy. Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center
2018: Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education. CSWE, Orlando Fl
2016: Inducted Fellow, American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare2015: Top Social Work Leader Award, NASW, New York City Chapter, Social Work
2015:  Social Work Pioneer for Contributions and Leadership, NASW Foundation,
2013: Honored as a Mentor. CSWE Women’s Council, Oct. Dallas, Texas,
2013: Association for International Conferences, Humanitarian & Leadership Award, 2012: Activist Scholar Award, of Sociology & Social Welfare, Society for the Study of Social Problems
2010: Honored, Cofounder of Welfare Rights Initiative, 15th Anniversary Hunter College,  
2009: Honored as a Mentor, CSWE Women’s Council, San Antonio, Tx
2007: Appointed Bertha Capen Reynolds Endowed Chair at Hunter School of Social Work
2007: Inducted into Columbia University School of Social Work Alumni Hall of Fame,  
2006: Faculty of the Year Award, NYS Social Work Educators Association  
2004: Distinguished Recent Contributions to Social Work Education, CSWE.
2004: Feminist Scholarship Award, presented in honor of Mimi Abramovitz, CSWE Women’s Council  
1997: Under Attack, Fighting: Back Women &Welfare in US  “Outstanding Book” Myers Human Rights Center
1995: Award for Significant Contributions Social Services and Political Activism, NYC chapter, NASW 


Voting Is Social Work

Special Commission to Advance Macro Social Work
Influencing Social Policy

Social Welfare History Project

Social Work Democracy Project

Association for Community Organization and Social Action

The Welfare Rights Initiative  

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