Dominique Moyse Steinberg: A Storied Career

Dominique Steinberg hadn’t anticipated becoming an educator, but in her early years in social work, she found herself very protective of the field’s values. “All of a sudden teaching and passing on its values became paramount to me. That’s really what drew me to social work education,” she recalled. With this inspiration, Steinberg built a storied career as a social work educator and scholar, and became someone who, in the words of colleague Roberta Graziano, “has always held herself and her students to the highest ethical standards,” and “personifies the highest purpose of professional service.”

Steinberg came from a family of what she calls “very informal social workers,” especially her grandmothers, who were dedicated to caring for others. In the early part of her career, she worked with homebound elderly clients and at-risk teens and was a reproductive health counselor. In the mid-1980s, Steinberg began teaching at Hunter and NYU and then went on to complete a D.S.W. at CUNY in 1992. She became a full-time faculty member at Hunter in 2003, serving as chair of their group work sequence. Steinberg also lent her talents to Smith School for Social Work, teaching in the School from 1997 to 2005 and serving as a thesis advisor for many years.

Dominique has always held herself and her students to the highest ethical standards and she personifies the highest purpose of professional service.

Steinberg began teaching group work after seeing that it was an area of practice that made social work students very nervous, fearing that the success of a group was entirely their responsibility. She was drawn to the challenge of helping students understand that group success is about group participation, and that “everybody in the group has expertise—even if it’s just in their own lives—and the role of the social worker is to bring that expertise out.”

 

Beyond teaching, Steinberg is an influential writer and speaker, and her books on group work and social work research are key texts in the field. Fellow Day-Garrett honoree Bruce Thompson recalled that her book, The Social Work Student’s Research Handbook became a “user manual” for his thesis advisees. “Dominique’s ability to clarify and simplify the steps in the research process enabled so many novice social work researchers to master their self-doubt and complete the thesis,” he said.

After retiring from Hunter in 2011, Steinberg chaired Simmons’ online graduate program in research methods from 2014-2018. She also founded Custom Elder Care, producing workbooks that help people customize care for their elders, similar to one she created for her mother. Although no longer in the classroom, Steinberg continues to pursue her passion for education and has three books planned. “People laugh at me,” she said, “because when I work, when I write about something that I love, like social work, I’m at my happiest. I see no reason to stop.”