1961                The first Pre-Conference of Social Welfare meeting of Hospital Social Work Directors was held in Minneapolis

1962               The American Hospital Association (AHA) Council on Professional Practice established the Committee on Social Services in Hospitals. The Second Pre-Conference of Hospital Social Work Directors was held in New York City

  • Hospital social work directors continued to put on a Pre-Conference Meeting in connection with the AHA meeting as they moved toward establishment of their own professional association.

Oct. 1965        Society of Hospital Social Work Directors (SHSWD) was established as a personal membership group (PMG) of the American Hospital Association (AHA).  Dues were set at $15.

May 1966        Beatrice Phillips became the first president of the society.

May 1967-       In January 1968, Evelyn McNamara, a professional social worker, succeeded Helen

May 1968        McGuire as AHA staff to the society.  Ms. McNamara saw as her role the                                                             encouragement of members from smaller, rural hospitals and the establishment of a

truly working Board that would address issues of practice, development of chapters,

and definition of the role of the society within AHA.


1968                The Society’s Bylaws were revised extensively, dues increased from $15 to $37, and

AHA’s Conference of Affiliated Societies is established to address issues common to                                                 all of its affiliated membership groups.  By 1968, the society had increased to 536

members, 70 percent of whom represented hospitals of 300 or fewer beds.


1969                In addition to standing committees on Membership, Program, Education, and

Nominations, Committees on Awards, Publications, Social Action and Policy, and

Research were formed.  A data bank was established in the society’s office in Chicago.


1970                The Ida M. Cannon Award, named for the founder of hospital social work,

was established.


1971                With a background in the federal sector, both Warren Stimpert and Bernice Harper, brought the society into that arena.  In 1971, Stimpert was appointed chairman of the AHA’s newly formed Conference of Affiliated Societies.  Inter-organizational discussions with NASW, CSWE and JCAH were a focus of the year.  A revision of the 1960 publication, “Essentials of Social Work Programs in Hospitals”, was published and became the foundation for discussions with the Joint Commission to upgrade hospital social work standards which were being disseminated by that organization.


1972                By 1972, the Society had grown from its original 37 founding members to 1,000.  The focus of recruitment efforts moved to bringing in more rural and/or one worker departments.


1973                Dialogue with AHA on policy issues and outreach efforts to Canadian social work administrators began.


1974                In 1974, the society had grown to 1,200 members and 26 chapters, making it the largest of all AHA personal membership societies.


1975                Chapter presidents and area representatives meet at the annual conference with the

national board for the first time.  The Bulletin, renamed Social Work Administration,

was published bi-monthly.


1976                Membership eligibility is the subject of an open debate at the annual meeting.  Health care social work continued to gain importance and two new journals in the field – Social Work in Health Care and Social Work – began publication.


1977                In 1977, the society conducted the largest annual meeting that any affiliated personal membership group had had in the AHA history.  There were 601 registrants and 15 concurrent workshops, with an additional day-and-a-half pre-meeting workshops for special interest groups.


1978                The first 13 Month Course in Social Work Management in the Health Care Field was held in Norfolk, VA, with Hyman J. Weiner serving as faculty leader.


1979                Three years of negotiation result in a bylaws amendment that settled a difficult membership criteria issue with two levels of membership established.


1980                The First Annual Discharge Planning Symposium was held in New York City.


1981                The issue of regionalization begins to emerge as state and regional coalitions start to form.


1982                The Hyman J. Weiner Lecture Award was established to honor the memory of this leader, teacher, and researcher in the field of health care social work.  The Hospital Social Work Director of the Year Award was established to recognize a director of a small hospital social work department who, despite limited resources and support, developed innovative ways to improve patient care.  Criteria for all society award recipients were approved


1983                SHSWD sponsors the White House Briefing on PPS.  Established precedent for annual Chapter President’s meeting.


1984                A series of meetings between Society Executive Committee and AHA policy staff resulted in (1) mutually-supported language that would require the provision of access to social work services in the new quality assurance Conditions of Participation and (2) facilitation of and access to a higher level of involvement for the Society in national health policy issues.


1985                SHSWD established the Eleanor Clark Award for Innovative Programs in Patient Care to honor the memory of this leader by recognizing members who develop patient care programs that emulate her spirit of innovation.


1986                The Medicare Conditions of Participation were published on June 17th with the final regulations including statements that hospitals must provide social work services and must have an effective, ongoing discharge planning program, culminating a three-year period of intensive lobbying of Health and Human Services.


1987                The report of a 1986 SHSWD survey on trends affecting social work departments indicate that staffing in 86% of members’ departments had stayed the same or increased since the implementation of DRGs and that their role as social work directors within their institutions had broadened for 81% of them.


1988                Harry Bryan, a member from New York State, was hired as the society’s fourth executive director.  The Education for Practice in Health Care Committee conducted a three-pronged survey of schools of social work, society members and chapters that identified the need for coordinated regional efforts to address curriculum and practice issues.  The Board supported representation of members from rural settings on all relevant society committees.


1989                The document, “A Design for the Operation of a National Data Center”, was approved and application was submitted for funding of the first phase of the national social work data base.  HSWIS became operational in over 100 social work departments across the country.


1990                The society celebrated its 25th Annual Meeting and Conference at the
Boston Marriot, Copley Plaza, in March.  The membership reached nearly 2,500 with 25 committees and task forces.  Eligibility for the Hospital Social Work Director of the Year Award was expanded to include outstanding directors from any size hospital or department.


1991                1991 marked the movement for many members from viewing themselves as just social

work directors to leaders in health care.


1992                The PAC Committee participated in a lobbyist training program paid for by AHA in                                              Washington with a faculty from their marketing firm.


1993                The Society’s name was changed to the Society for Social Work Administrators in Health Care.  New Membership categories were added to include Developmental and Transitional members.


1994                AHA establishes a Division of Personal Membership Groups and the AHA executive director assigned to SSWAHC was named Vice President for the division.


1995                Board retreat and subsequent society process led to a new vision and mission for SSWAHC.  By-Laws were amended.


1996                SSWAHC Home Page on the World Wide Web initiated at: http://www.sswlhc.org.  Initiated participation in AHA’s Campaign for Coverage: An American Health Challenge to expand health care coverage for the uninsured.  By-laws amendment allows BSW’s (Bachelor of Social Work) to have full membership status.


1997               Name changed to Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care to better represent all

social workers in leadership positions. Advocacy efforts included a letter -writing campaign re: Home Health Conditions of participation, coalitions on PASSAR and participation in AHA’s Campaign for Coverage.  The Society also increased opportunities for input into JCAHO Standards.


  • By-Laws changed to reflect the above name change. Eleanore Kirsch named Executive Director for the society.  The Consortium of Social Work Associations, an outgrowth of the NASW Summit, meet for the first time in conjunction with the annual conference.


1999               New Models of Chapter Affiliation proposed.  Redesign of the Society’s newsletter, “Social

Work Leader.”  Five new monographs are published and two new competency tools are

developed.  The sale of these publications provided a new source of revenue for the Society.  The

Society’s PAC is again very successful at the annual meeting, raising $10,000 for donation to the



2000                Consolidated staffing positions into one full-time Executive Director position.  Vanessa Kizart named Executive Director for Society.  “Journal Social Work in Health Care” premiered.  Society website redesigned.  Revised membership categories.  Discussions also began with AHA to move the Society from a Personal Membership Group to a free standing professional organization.   These early discussions set the stage for the positive separation agreement reached by the 2001 board and AHA.


2001                Reviewed options for Society management.  Became free standing professional society with management services from RMP.  Maintained strong relationship with AHA affiliation status which allowed for collaboration on common advocacy issues and membership on appropriate AHA committees/task forces.  June Simmons establishes mechanism through Partners In Care allowing the Society to raise funds through tax free giving by members as a “nest egg” for the newly formed free standing organization.


2002                1st year as a free standing society.  Developed a strategic plan.  Set up structure to

carry out business of society.  Ended year with positive bottom line.  Publications:

2001 Proceedings and Ethics in Healthcare:  A Social Work Perspective.  Financials:

Conference – $102,842    Net worth – $90,700


2003                Strategic plan is expanded to a three year plan.  Began attaching CEUs to publications.  Merger

of American Association of Home Health Care Social Workers into SSWLHC.   Publications:

Reprint of Ethics Book and 2002 Proceedings.  Financials: Conference – $108,185    Net worth –



2004                Largest attendance in years at annual conference.  Work team established to explore feasibility of

a foundation using monies donated at the time of the society’s departure from AHA as seed

money.  Financial stability grew through both revenue from annual meeting and sale of

products.  Publications: 2003 Proceedings and Social Work Leadership in Healthcare:  Principles

and Practice (first of a series).  Financials:  Conference – $174,135  Net worth – $125,401


2005                Society celebrated 40 years as a professional organization and 100 years as a profession in the

healthcare arena.  Past Presidents were honored at annual meeting – 23 were in attendance.

Society receives recognition in several journals.  Foundation is established and received 501c3

status.  Board is appointed and elected officers.  Corrected problems with publication schedule

with Haworth and began conversations to expand collaboration. Conducted a planning session

resulting in refocus of society priorities and responsibilities.  Representation at the Social Work

Congress and the follow up meeting to develop a strategic plan for implementing the 12

Imperatives agreed upon at the Congress. Representation at the Mass General 100th Celebration.

Publications: Strength Based Perspectives on Social Work Practice in Healthcare and Cultural

Competency.  Financials:  Conference –  $194,935  Net worth – $167,798


2006                The Society developed a Strategic Plan for the next 2 years.  This process was highly                                             participative and inclusive and its creation was the highlight of the annual meeting.  The                                             Vision/Mission/Values statements were renewed.  Two new products were developed –                                        Leadership Institute and the Faculty Summit. The Annual meeting was successful both fiscally                                     and substantively with a focus on “Building Our Futures”.    We went live on the interactive                               website, developed our first Salary Survey for membership and developed Webinars as an                                ongoing CEU benefit for members.


2007                The Society launched eight new work groups and task forces following the strategic

planning                               process of 2006. The annual meeting was held in Philadelphia with both attendance and vendor                           support exceeding expectations.  The Penn-Del Chapter was awarded the Board Recognition                               Award in appreciation of their contributions to the conference success.  The inaugural                                           Leadership Institute and Faculty Summit were held prior to the conference.  The Leadership                                 Institute served as a pilot for future leadership training programs and the Faculty Summit was                              attended by both academics and practitioners with 8 sponsoring organizations.  Following the                              July face-face meeting, the Board appointed a task force to explore the unification of local and                            national memberships as a step toward “branding” the Society and strengthening our influence                             around national health care agendas.  By year-end, the task force recommended that the Board                            move forward with a unification plan as a necessary movement to advance the work of the                                   Society.


2008                The annual meeting was held in Montreal marking the Society’s first conference outside the                                  United States. Canadian social workers welcomed us with open arms and the Society now has                             almost 25 members across Canada.   The Society is truly an international organization. We were                            a major sponsor of the annual Social Work Day at the United Nations which attracted 900 social                         workers and students.  We maintained our on-going efforts with Products and Publications,                                 Evidence Based Practice, Advocacy and the Leadership Toolbox.  Our Strategic Partnership                                group solidified our professional working relationships with other organizations and programs.                             Meetings and discussions were held with major organizations including NASW, CSWE, AHA                             and the professional organization representing hospitals.  We co-hosted with the Social Work                               Department of the Cleveland Clinics an invitational meeting on Social Work Metrics and co-                                sponsored the first regional conference with the Utah chapter.  The National/Local Chapter                                   Unification committee worked diligently to bring us closer to our vision of a single unified                                   national organization. We ended the year by submitting recommendations on health care reform                           to the Obama/Biden Transition Team.


2009                American history will record 2009 as a year of anticipated Global economic collapse and recession.  While both events were averted, businesses and individuals, including social workers, tightened their budgets. In spite of the glooming financial picture, the annual conference returned to New Orleans.  Attendance was excellent and the organization held its first preconference event in support of Habitat for Humanity.  Seven of the eight work groups and task forces initiated in 2007 continued their work and the eighth group will be reforming with a fresh start in the coming year.  The National/Local Chapter Unification Committee made significant strides towards creating a single unified organization.  The year closed with nineteen state chapters affiliating and the Society’s budget well in the black.


2010                In an effort to improve National’s awareness, the Society requested that members of local

SSWLHC Chapters affiliate on the National level. By affiliating with National, the chapters would be provided with a communication link to national and supporting chapters through the coordination of quarterly conference calls and the Annual Chapter Presidents’ Meeting. Other benefits of affiliation included providing the Chapters with regular updates to the “Membership Directory” posted on the website for chapters to access current chapter members and providing chapter leaders with regular correspondence regarding SSWLHC activities. In addition by affiliating with National, the Chapters would be supported through IRS compliance. As a results of the 18 chapters that affiliated with National, membership doubled in size to over 1,200 members.


2011                This year was marked by our pronounced visibility at a number of national forums representing health care social workers.  A key partnership has been established with NASW.  As a part of this partnership, NASW endorsed the pediatric staffing standards.  We have continued to extend our partnerships with other groups and have entertained conversations with other health care groups to further strengthen these relationships.


2012-2013      Fiscal year 2012-2013 was one of continuity, building on the strengths and initiatives established in recent years.  Our NASW relationship continued to evolve leading to many invitations to contribute nationally to social work’s role in health care reform and the need for an educational curriculum for health care social work.  We were invited to support several national advocacy initiatives in partnership with other national professional membership groups.   Our Pediatric contingent under the leadership of Tony Yamamoto and Mary Norris Brown copyrighted and published national standards for pediatric hospital staffing and core competencies.  We conducted a membership survey to guide our strategic planning.  Our Leadership Development Institute developed a business plan to regionalize the educational opportunities and begin succession planning for the faculty.  Our Chapter Committee decided to drop the affiliation agreements and request that Chapters sign licensing agreement instead (effective July 1, 2012). 13 Chapters agreed to sign licensing agreements with National. Our annual conference held in Denver Colorado coincided with Hurricane Sandy, the worst east coast hurricane in more than one hundred years.  Many members were unable to travel to Denver but the show went on resulting in a narrow, but positive margin.  While our fiscal challenges remain our membership numbers seemed to stabilize.   We began a critical conversation in consideration of our need and desire to diversify our mission and purpose to become THE inclusive organization for all social workers in healthcare.  The conversation continues in to the next Presidential and Board term.


2013- 2014  Respectfully submitted by Shawna Grossman Kates, MSW, MBA, CMAC


The Fiscal and Leadership year of 2013-14 continued in the tradition of capitalizing on members and leaderships’ strengths, implementing initiatives to meet the needs and expectations of constituents, and forging relationships that raised the national profile of SSWLHC.   Underscoring all efforts was the sharp focus on the volume of members. While this year’s volumes decreased from the past, and more members shifted from the higher-revenue Administrative category to lower-revenue Direct Practice, the volumes have stabilized.  Regardless, it is an imperative on which each succeeding Board must have a keen lens.


Our NASW relationship continued to evolve leading to many national invitations for SSWLHC to contribute to social work’s role in health care reform. Edward Woomer and Stacy Collins served on a high level collaborative panel focusing on Social Work and the Affordable Care Act.  SSWLHC members were invited to participate in a national survey via Rush Hospital and NASW regarding the role of Social Workers in an Accountable Care Organization, which will likely provide meaningful information to help shape standards for practice.   Greg Jensen, former SSWLHC president, was selected to serve on a NASW national Behavioral Health Committee.  The John A Hartford Foundation program, “Advancing Compassionate Care through Interprofessional Education for Collaborative Care”, will be attended by Anthony Yamamoto who will serve in dual roles representing NASW and SSWLHC.


SSWLHC was invited to support several national advocacy initiatives in partnership with other national professional membership groups such as Boston Children’s Hospital research regarding discharge planning standards, in which Edward Woomer and Shawna G. Kates served as stakeholders.  Jordana Rutigliano, NY Metro Chapter,  represented SSWLHC at the New York 1199SEIU Social Work Annual Conference,  which SSWLHC Sponsored. Additionally, Virna Little ably represented SSWLHC as the guest speaker for the national primary care week physician education program in New York.


Our Pediatric contingent under the leadership of Anthony Yamamoto and Mary Norris Brown continued to pursue the endorsement of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Healthcare Alliance, of the copyrighted and published national standards for pediatric hospital staffing and core competencies.


Our Membership and Marketing Committee in partnership with several leading members who practice within academia, forged the initial phase of plans to develop a student outreach program, as it is essential for SSWLHC to meet the needs of the growing volume of student members.  On a creative note,   2014  also brought a new SSWLHC marketing brochure for distribution, which will be posted on the website, and showcased at the NASW national conference in which SSWLHC will be a first-time exhibitor.


The Board continued to use the 2012-13 membership survey to guide our strategic planning. Several Initiatives were implemented this year, including a new product of Mentoring Program that will “go live” Fall 2014. This was ably led by Scot Ferguson and Karen Nelson. The Leadership Institute Committee and SSWLHC advanced plans to shift operations of this product to the Board, with a separate budget sculpted to be used for program analytics.    Our Leadership Institute held its first Regional educational LI event hosted by Tim Morrison at Stanford.   Lastly, our Products and Publications Committee has shifted from hard-copy exemplar books to purchase on-demand pdfs. They are hard at work with an updated Ethics product for 2015.


Most importantly, the Strategic Planning Task Force led by Carol Maxwell and Margaret Meyer advanced the first phase of exploring the scope, mission and purpose of SSWLHC and the need/desire to become the premier and  inclusive organization for all social workers in healthcare. A survey was conducted with the initial proposal to be presented at the 49th Annual meeting in Salt Lake City.  Their work will continue to fruition in 2015.


Lastly, as a collaborative partnership between the Past Presidents, the Foundation and SSWLHC,  a small task force led the plans to purchase a legal writer/journalists to craft an article to submit to mainstream and business media venues to portray the key value of social work in the shifting health care environment. The deliverables will be presented July 2014.


Our Annual Conference held in Philadelphia Pa. was a rousing success, as evident by not only the curriculum evaluations, strong Sponsorship dollars, but the palpable positive spirit sensed by the attendees.  The Foundation hosted its most robust Auction/ fundraiser, which supports multiple scholarships and grants throughout the year.  At this event SSWLHC initiated  the first Partnership Award, bestowed on Stacy Collins NASW. Stacy’s efforts to have SSWLHC included at high  level  “tables” has been extremely beneficial.  Also, an outgrowth of the Annual Meeting in Philadelphia led to the plans to introduce another new award in honor of Joan Upshaw, as recognition to an awardee whose entrepreneurship was as evident as Joan Upshaw’s.


Despite varying time zones and everyone’s busy schedules, the Board worked consistently and collaboratively to achieve goals, develop thoughtful and strategic plans for longer-term goals, welcome and deliver customer service to new members, and astutely manage the budget.




This fiscal year was marked by a theme of partnerships, and use of new technology for visibility!


We started off with a national webinar partnering with CSWE and CMS on campaign ideas for the market place exchange and social work’s role.  We then had an article published in NASW news on the role of social work in the ACA.  Our annual conference invited the new director of VA Social Work and Case Management as our keynote and a breakout for VA Social Workers.


We developed the Mentorship Program to partner seasoned social work clinicians with social workers in health care wanting to focus on specific skills.


We developed the Partnership Committee to develop a current inventory of all social work groups in health care to eventually work on mutual issues.  Finally, we made several trips to Washington DC to meet with the new directors of the VA and NASW and attend Social Work Day on the Hill.  And we were asked to participate on a national advisory committee to select and disperse grants to schools and students to develop interprofessional health care curriculum for BSW, MSW, and PH. D. social work students (Heals Advisory Board).


We used new technology to convert our exemplars to E-Books and developed a new user friendly website, face book page, etc. through our social media committee.


Although our membership has dropped a bit, our conference in Salt Lake and the Leadership Institute were a huge success!  Our board also voted to go to 3 year terms for Continuity and goal attainment.