Chauncey Alexander was born in California and received his B.A. from UCLA and his M.S.W. from the University of Southern California. He completed course work for a doctorate, but never found sufficient time to complete his Ph.D.
He began his professional career as a case worker for the Family Association of Los Angeles in the California Department of Mental Hygiene and the State Relief Administration. During World War II, he served in the United States Army as a psychiatric social worker from 1944 to 1946 during which time he developed techniques for training army social workers. After the war, he worked in the Veteran Service Center from 1946 to 1948. He was the executive director of the Southern California Society for Mental Hygiene in Los Angeles between 1950 and 1954. He also served briefly as the associate director of the Regional Medical Program School of Medicine. For the next 13 years, he served as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Heart Association. Near the end of his tenure, he was accused of having Communist party connections, and although he successful refuted those charges, he ultimately resigned.
Between 1968 and 1982 he served as Executive Director for the National Association of Social Workers, creating programs such as ELAN (Education League Action Network) and PACE (Political Action for Candidate Election), and developing specialty professional publications, competence certification, and an insurance program. Concurrently, he helped to develop a number of International Social Work programs, and he served for many years as President of the International Federation of Social Workers. He was responsible for the official International Code of Ethics for Professional Social Workers and the International Policy on Human Rights.
Upon leaving the NASW, Alexander became involved in a wide variety of projects. He was an adjunct professor of Social Work at California State University, Long Beach from 1986 to 1998. He also opened his own consulting firm, working closely with Dale Masi. In the meantime, he also was active in the Bertha Capen Reynolds Society, which advocated political involvement on the part of social workers, and was the chairman of the board of directors of the First Amendment Foundation, which coordinated various radical groups and served as a funding conduit for NCARL (the National Committee Against Repressive Legislation). He also remained very active in the California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. He was the founder and an executive committee member of the Orange County Health Care Council. He participated strongly in Orange County politics and in those of Huntington Beach, where he and his wife, Sally, resided.