SWHPN Announces New Leadership

Though our field is facing unprecedented challenges, we are pleased to announce several exciting leadership changes taking place the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) to lead our members through these uncertain times.

Jessica Strong, SWHPN Executive DirectorSWHPN appointed Jessica Strong as permanent Executive Director, after serving in the role of interim Executive Director for the past year. This appointment followed an organizational search and board voting process. In addition to leading the outstanding team of professionals who have implemented SWHPN’s annual General Assemblies over the past five years, Jessica led SWHPN’s most recent strategic planning process that initiated the formalization of SWHPN’s current organizational structure. The goals set in that process have helped to provide extraordinary growth of SWHPN this year and have set the course for a bright future. One of her first initiatives was successfully securing a two-year grant from the Cambia Health Foundation to provide educational webinars to support the professional development needs of hospice and palliative care social workers. We are grateful to the Cambia Health Foundation for their continued support which will support these new initiatives.

Additionally, SWHPN is announcing new leadership on its Executive Committee. SWHPN founder and long-time Board Chair, Grace Christ, DSW/PhD is stepping down as Chair, but remains on the Board as Immediate Past Chair. The incoming Board Chair is Allie Shukraft, MSW, MAT, APHSW-C, a social worker on the pediatric advanced care team at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, NC. The incoming Vice-Chair is Karen Bullock, PhD, LCSW, a professor and John A. Hartford Faculty Scholar in the Department of Social Work at North Carolina State University. Rounding out the Executive Committee is Cathy Berkman, PhD, MSW as Board Secretary, and Torrie Fields, MPH as Board Treasurer. Board terms began on March 16, 2020.

“SWHPN was founded as part of a grassroots movement with a grant from The Project for Death in America in 2007," said Ms. Shukraft. "Under Grace Christ's leadership for the past 13 years, we have grown from a state organization to the national leader in psychosocial hospice and palliative care (#HAPC) with almost 1,000 members across a variety of disciplines. Now I am honored to take the next step as the organization's second Chair, building on what Grace and the other Founding Members have worked so hard to build."

The Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network is a membership organization for hospice and palliative social work professionals, dedicated to advancing evidence-based psychosocial best practices for persons with serious illness, and their family members and caregivers. SWHPN champions professional development, promoting research and education, and ongoing advocacy in this field, and is the only organization dedicated to supporting the social work professionals in palliative and end-of-life care. The organization now has 16 Board members who are leaders in the field, with nearly 1,000 members, ranging from students in MSW programs to retired practitioners, from clinicians at rural hospice programs to academics at major universities, in the United States, Canada, and several other countries. Programs include a robust mentorship program, professional development opportunities, and an annual General Assembly that brings together 400+ social work professionals from around the world for three days of learning and networking.

For inquiries or more information, please contact Jessica Strong, Executive Director, at [email protected].

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