Mary Kaplan, MSW, LCSW

Mary Kaplan, MSW, LCSW

Class: 1963Inducted: 2024

Mary Kaplan is a clinical social worker who has worked in the field of geriatric health care for over forty years as a clinician, administrator, educator, and community activist. She received social work degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo and Catholic University.

Mary worked in hospitals in New York and Florida as the director of social work services, receiving the Social Worker of the Year Award from the Florida Gulfstream chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. She was on the faculty of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida, where she was the director of the student internship program and a clinical instructor. She taught courses on mental health and aging, geriatric case management, and Alzheimer’s disease, and received the Outstanding Teaching Award in the School of Aging Studies, as well as the university’s Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Mary focused her career on the care of persons with dementia. She served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Gulfcoast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and was the chairperson of the chapter’s Public Policy Committee for ten years. She was appointed to the Alzheimer’s Association National Board Committees on Public Policy and Programs.

Mary was instrumental in the passage of legislation that mandated dementia training for staff in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day care, home health care, and hospice, making Florida the first state to have dementia training requirements for all levels of health care, and she participated in the development of training criteria and certification for the program. Consequently, she was invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference on aging at Victoria University in Australia.

Mary’s work also focused on caregivers. Her book, Clinical Practice with Caregivers of Dementia Patients was one of the first written on dementia caregivers for mental health professionals. She trained caregiver support group leaders and led many groups of her own for Alzheimer’s chapters. In 2003, she was selected to be a member of Rosalynn Carter’s Expert Panel on Education, Training, and Support Programs for Caregivers and met with Ms. Carter at the Carter Center in Atlanta.

Mary has given presentations and conducted workshops throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. She has published numerous articles and six books, including the biography of Solomon Carter Fuller, America’s first African American psychiatrist and a pioneer in Alzheimer’s disease research.

Following her retirement from teaching and clinical practice, Mary published a textbook, <.>The Practice of Social Work with Older Adults. She continues to mentor students in the University of Buffalo Social Work Program. She has served as an architectural consultant, designing environments for persons with dementia, and as a Disaster Mental Health Volunteer for the American Red Cross.

Favorite quote: “Our purpose in life is to help others along the way”. (Justice Sandra Day O’Connor)