Read the May 2023 President’s Corner

Jeanette Foster

SSWLHC President - July 2021 - June 2023

May 2023

It has been a while since I have shared a message with the SSWLHC community. 

With so much going on, I wanted to offer some updates as we are ushered well into Spring by super blooms and cherry blossoms, longer days, and singularly focused nesting birds.

Over the past 12 months, the Board, Committees, and Chapters have all been hard at work. The focus has been on channeling our collective energy toward creating efficiencies in our operations and increasing the value of belonging to our community with a keen eye to bringing greater meaning and value to our collective work in serving patients and families in need of health care.

In thinking about operational efficiencies…
We have hit the ground running with our new management team led by Todd Von Deak, now serving as our executive director. It’s been a quick ramp-up for all of us, but an energizing opportunity to look at all of our different operations to build on all that is good and makes our community special.

You will start to see some real changes over the coming months:

  • Effective July 1, SSWLHC will move to a calendar fiscal year. This change will align the organization better with its membership. The change will also create efficiencies in our accounting practices and better align our fiscal plans with the organization’s strategic planning cycles.  
  • Also, on July 1, our organization will move from a calendar membership cycle (everyone renews on June 30th) to an anniversary cycle (memberships are up 12 months from when you joined). I am excited about this change because it means that when you send SSWLHC a dues payment for 12 months, you will get 12 months of benefits – we can not currently say this. (note – current members will not feel any change with this; your membership will continue to run through the end of June)  
  • With this change, the terms of office for our Board and committee members will run from January to December each year. We are grateful that our incoming Board members will extend their terms by six months to facilitate this change. This change will be the most impactful for our Board member who also serves as conference chair – this will better synchronize their term of service with the conference planning timeline.


When I Look At Increasing The Value of Belonging…

  • I am thrilled that we will soon launch a new Distinguished Speakers Series. This year-long program is designed to bring thought leaders to an informal conversation with the membership. Our guests will share thoughts, for about 15 minutes, about a topic on their mind. From there, it’s an open, facilitated conversation with no taboo topic and the focus on discussion on what matters most to you.  
  • The SSWLHC mentoring committee is moving towards launching its program again this year. This work was sidelined for the past several years, but this program, core to the vision of the Society, will be getting back on track thanks to Scott Fergusons’ leadership. Expect to see more about this, and please consider getting involved!  
  • The Leadership Institute, also central to the identity of the Society, has continued to offer programs throughout the past several years – both live and virtual!The most recent virtual LI in March was well and enthusiastically attended! There are plans to promote additional curriculum focusing on emerging leaders and more.
  • Planning for the SSWLHC conference in Atlanta is well underway, with keynotes planned, the call for abstracts out, and the behind-the-scenes work active! We will continue to be intentional about outreach and slating speakers and topics you want to hear and a focus on maximizing learning and networking opportunities. Stay tuned for some big announcements before the end of the month.


And Finally, Some Thoughts About Our Collective Work…
We have continued to build relationships with other organizations and coalitions doing similar or shared work. This will be a primary focus 2023-24 as the future will be built of coalitions. You will see some of this work shared in newsletters or on social media, and if this work interests you and/or if you have an interest in leading a coordinated effort around a health policy or practice, please reach out to 

I Can’t Sign Off Without…
Sharing my thanks to all who have rolled up their sleeves and dove in unselfishly in the name of growing our organization…

  • Our Board, for diving into a host of strategic conversations in a truly thoughtful way.
  • Our Committee Members, for being on the front lines of everything we do, carrying so much forward.
  • You…who all you do on the front lines and still finding time to care about our organization.


There is a lot ahead of us…so much to build on while, at the same time, looking to innovate to strengthen our organization’s position in a constantly changing healthcare environment. We need your talents and gifts to serve all current and future members!  Please let us know how you want to help!  

Better together,
Jeanette Foster, MSW, LISW-S
President, SSWLHC

March 2022

Happy Social Work Month!

As usual, I will share some of what I am thinking about this morning. The word “resilient” has been on my mind… and not in a good way.

I have heard it used a lot lately, often in reference to Ukrainian citizens. Hearing it so often, it has begun to feel to me like another quality or achievement that I must accomplish – and pretty quickly.

One definition of resilience is, “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves bouncing back from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.” [Bolded words by me]

Another definition adds, “It is the mental reservoir of strength that people are able to call on in times of need to carry them through without falling apart.” [Again, bolded words by me]

There is much discussion about how “quickly” one bounces back “to baseline” in various definitions and metrics.

I wonder whether the promotion of resilience doesn’t sometimes hustle past pain and suffering and the need to heal while instead hurtling headlong into getting back “as we were.” Is there a timeline for “resilience?” Must I never “fall apart” in order for my journey to be declared “resilient” at some point?

As I was reflecting on this, I went down my rabbit holes searching for what others are saying. My journey led me to Dr. Lakeya Cherry’s post on LinkedIn where she shares an article by Shawn Ginwright, “Healing-Centered Leadership: A Path to Transformation.”

Sometimes there are ruts in the road that make it easier for us to find a path, and I experienced gratitude for the work that fuels articles like this one. Let me share just one passage. “Somewhere along the way, however, we have bought into the myth that grinding harder, creating the perfect strategy, or having a deeper analysis of our problems is enough to solve them. Grinding harder, creating the perfect strategy, or having a deeper analysis of our problems doesn’t get at the deeper, more fundamental issues that plague our organizations and movements for justice. Trust, vision, wholeness, humane relationships and hope are the tools required for deep change in our work” (Ginwright, p 32).

Change, he said, will require a “new form of leadership that is based in cultivating empathy, compassion, and connection.”

As I continue to reflect on my own place in the world, in the profession, in my specific role, I will lean into this, this perspective that is “healing” …and not to “achieve” a brand of resilience, but to contribute to the well being of all of us.

I also know that in the working environments within healthcare there are expectations. Even as we meet the expectations of our work, I believe that we have more power to shape the nature of our work, how we connect to our work, and how we support families and one another.

The article ends with, “We have an opportunity before us to transform and reimagine our work for social change. Our society sits directly between trauma and transformation – an old world and a new one.”

It is Social Work Month; we stand on the edge of a new world.

This coincides with an opportunity to focus our efforts as a Society as we work through a transition management plan. We are so grateful to Shawna Kates & Scott Ferguson for volunteering to serve the Society and the Foundation during our Transition period over the next year. We will keep you, the members who we serve, updated, and engaged along the journey forward.
I am excited to explore new worlds with you,

Jeanette Foster
Society for Social Work Leadership In Health Care

I follow
Ginwright, Shawn, “Healing-Centered Leadership: A Path to Transformation,” NPQMAG.ORG, Winter 2021
Cherry, Kendra, “What is Resilience?”, April 24, 2021, accessed 2/28/22
APA (2020, Feb 1). Building your resilience.

January 2022

Hello Society Members and Friends,

We are already in 2022 with the New Year before us. There are new opportunities, new and old challenges, and new and old dreams.

We also continue to have each other to lean on and learn from as we go forward.
And forward, we must go.

As Dr. King reminds us, “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving.”

Working within healthcare systems, what do we mean when we talk about social determinants of health and social based needs?

I know that WE understand that it is both having enough food to eat today AND ALSO challenging policies that structurally make it all but impossible to ever put enough food on the table.

I know that WE understand that it is both getting a ride to receive care today AND ALSO challenging policies that structurally keep us car dependent and with unequal access to broadband and other services.

I know that WE understand that it is about helping someone figure out how they will navigate housing applications and get into temporary emergent house AND ALSO challenging policies that structurally ensure that the wealth gap intensifies.

Our role within the system(s) of health care in the United States is challenging.

We are navigating, with families, the very limited resources that are available to respond to their identified social needs.

At the same time, we must resist becoming simply a part of the system itself and continue to challenge the structures and policies and laws that keep the bright light of “failure” on people.

It’s up to us to keep looking beyond our current system to ideas and innovations from other types of healthcare systems.

Last year, our national conference focused on a Call to Courage. We are called upon to remain courageous even as we, too, tire amidst the pandemic and daunting systems of inequity.

I believe that collectively we will “keep moving” forward to ensure that the care patients and families receive is equitable and excellent and is the result of great interprofessional teamwork.

I believe that we can also swim upstream in our work together and serve and contribute to our greater communities using whatever our unique gifts may be.

Our Board will continue to work to support all of our membership, and indeed, all social workers in healthcare.  We are excited about the many opportunities which lie ahead.

Our members, also, continue to work in a wide range of settings and roles as they champion the needs of patients, develop programs, run for offices, and champion changes to policies.

It is 2022 and there is good work to do together!

Let’s keep moving!

Jeanette Foster
Society for Social Work Leadership In Health Care

September 2021

I cleaned my office today.

Cleaning is what I do when I need to feel more in control of what I’m doing. It’s what I do when I need to rediscover what my focus should be.

Here is what I found:

  • Notes on reaching out to our Muslim staff and social workers when their faith and their rights to be treated with dignity were called into question in 2017.
  • Notes on reaching out to Latinx Community agencies when the volume of anti-immigration was dialed up nationally so that we could try to convey a sense of a safety when seeking health care.
  • Notes on Women’s marches and #metoo.
  • Notes on attempts to redefine and roll back a variety of anti-discrimination protections for those identified with the LGBTQ+ communities.
  • Notes and articles on how to have conversations with friends and people who we love over the holiday season so that we might maintain those relationships.
  • A stack of notes a couple of inches thick on the evolving COVID-19 pandemic with Work-From-Home and Return-To-Work plans and everything in between as we tried to keep up with the impact of this virus.
  • A humbling stack of information on anti-racism and anti-oppression.
  • Magazines from a newer membership subscription to the National Museum of the American Indian and related webinars celebrating (& defending) Indigenous Peoples’ sovereignty.
  • Advocacy materials for the Asian community who are experiencing increased violence & discrimination in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Advocacy materials for (astonishingly) voting rights in the United States of America.
  • News on people joining our Social Work department and people who were leaving it.


I also found “shout out” cards that staff send to one another, pictures of “events” even if they looked different than usual, and lots of emails among colleagues as they cultivated relationships in order to address the big problems that faced us. I picked them all up, reflecting on them as I sorted & filed, understanding, again, the comfort in naming and understanding events in our lives and the impact that those have, collectively, on us.

If you are exhausted, feel out of sorts, and maybe in need of a little more control in your own life right now, I hope you will take time to recognize and honor just how much has been asked of you in the past 5 or 6 years. I hope, too, that you will find ways to support yourself going forward. We need each other.

We will, as social workers in health care, move forward, as we have through the past several years, and honor & grieve what we’ve lost. We will seek to remember that grief isn’t an admission of failure or a weakness in character. Instead, as the Rabi Earl Grollman writes, grief “is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity.” We will collectively take time to remember and be grateful for the people we love and those doing such brave work in the world.

For those of you able to join us in Tucson at the annual conference, we very much look forward to seeing you. The conference committee has developed a nice balance of education, connection, and replenishment of mind/body. We will take comfort in our togetherness as we look forward to the shared work before us in the coming year.I know that many of our Society membership were hoping to join us in Tucson, AZ but cannot for a variety of reasons. Those of us involved in the planning were optimistic earlier in the year and then saw things change again before our eyes. For a variety of reasons, we were not able to convert to a virtual conference as we did in 2020.

Our strength comes from our collective membership, from a group of people with varied perspectives, coming together to work toward common goals. The work is challenging. We choose to do it because we know that Social Workers embedded within health care settings matter for patients and families. Whether you are able to come in person to Tucson or not, we will be working together with all of our membership in mind and with focused outreach to bring our hands together in the joy and in the work.

On behalf of the SSWLHC Board and the Conference Planning Committee, I wish you all peace and continued health and safety in the months ahead.

I cleaned my office today. It reminded me why so many of us are called to do this critical work. And yes, it helped.

As ever,

Jeanette Foster
Society for Social Work Leadership In Health Care

Heather Brungardt

SSWLHC President - July 2019 - June 2021 July 2021

Dear Colleagues, As I write this final President’s message to you, I find myself reflecting on our work together these past two years. None of this work would have been possible without the commitment of our Board of Directors, Kyle Fernley, our membership and the Presidents before me. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Held a successful annual conference in Kansas City, MO in the fall of 2019
  • Led a successful strategic planning event with funding provided by the Social Work Leadership Foundation and in partnership with Vista Cova Consulting, LLC and Ed Woomer, Past-President
  • Launched new mission and vision statements
  • Launched a new organizational structure with new and formalized committees and new/enhanced product lines to meet our strategic objectives
  • Navigated significant challenges to financial stability each year due to factors such as shifts in our membership and their participation in our events; enabling fiscal solvency
  • Strengthened our relationship to our local Chapters and its members with an updated agreement and making local members national members
  • Established a Strategic Partnership group with like organizations and held regular meetings with formal collaboration agreements
  • Represented SSWLHC on the National Social Work and Health Work Group to fund the National Academies of Science Social Needs Care Study with funding by the Social Work Leadership Foundation
  • Navigated 2021-The COVID-19 crisis and Racial Injustice issues which impacted SSWLHC operations and our members
  • Pivoted quickly to shift our in-person annual conference to virtual Fall of 2020 with the keen leadership of Kyle Fernley and Chris McLaughlin
  • Created opportunity for SSWLHC to serve as an internship site for 6 macro level social work graduate students due to lack of placements as the result of COVID-19


We are now embarking on a return to our popular in-person annual conference format to be held in Tucson, AZ October 25-28. Much work is happening behind the scenes to ensure a safe and satisfying experience for our attendees. At the same time our Leadership Institute continues to expand its offerings, our re-launch of webinars has brought much needed revenue, and our new Advocacy and Marketing committees continue to strengthen their capacity. We are aiming to launch a new Speaker’s Bureau later this year.

Board of Director Transitions

Recently, we said goodbye and thank you to three Board members-Soo Shim, Louise Knight and Hallie Stone who ended their terms as well as our student Board member, Riley Laullin. With this, we now welcome Angela Alvarado, Kristyna Tan, Christine Wilkins and student Board member Ashley Cheng to our ranks. Jeanette Foster, MSW, LISW-S officially became your new President on July 1st. She along with the Board will gather for our annual summer retreat virtually on July 17th to plan our work together for the year. I will remain as Immediate Past President this year to support these transitions.

Final Thoughts

I have also had my own transitions. After 25 years at Children’s Mercy Hospital I left my role earlier this year. After taking some much-needed time off I accepted a telecommute position as VP of Workforce Development with June Simmons at the Partners in Care Foundation in Southern California. Like so many people in our country, it was time for me to re-evaluate my priorities and what is important for me and my family.

I wish all of you peace, grace and best wishes on your own journeys. See you soon!


Heather Brungardt
Immediate Past-President
Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care

March 2021

Happy Spring Everyone! I don’t know about you but the change in weather that includes being outside in the sunshine, gardening, and BBQs is so welcome after the past year’s events. There is something about this time of year that signals renewal, rebirth and hope for new beginnings.

The work of your Society continues in earnest as we prepare for our Annual Conference to be held October 24-28 in sunny Tucson, Arizona. The call for abstracts submissions is open and sponsorship opportunities are now available. For more details, click the links below:

Call for Abstracts
Sponsorship Opportunities Now Available

In addition, we continue to push interesting and informative webinars to our members, schedule Leadership Institute sessions, update practice exemplars, match members to mentors, provide a forum for sharing via our social media platforms and expand our advocacy platform.

This is also the time of year that we begin planning next year’s budget, ask all to renew their memberships, hold elections for new Board members and thank outgoing members, and consider nominations for our Annual Awards. This year, it’s also time to say goodbye to our 6 MSW macro students!

An area that the Board continues to prioritize is implementing the strategic plan set in the Fall of 2019. As some of you may recall, I shared the current state of the Society along with our roadmap for the future at the Kansas City conference at that time. I suggested that there could/should be consideration as part of this work to change our name to better reflect our commitment to inclusion of all social workers in health care while retaining our commitment to social work leaders.

What’s in a Name-The Society for Social Workers in Health Care
Recently, I led an ad hoc group discussion to consider all that would go into changing our brand and our name; Updating our logo, our social media and websites, and marketing our brand to a much broader social work audience. All of this comes at a price.

That got our group thinking-how can we reach out to our membership to determine how they might contribute their time, talents and pocketbooks to this project?

  • Do you have a special marketing or graphic design background?
  • Are you an expert in social media?
  • Are you an expert grant writer or know how to identify possible grants?
  • Are you busy but want to contribute to the Social Work Health Leadership Foundation’s general fund to support our efforts?

If so, I want to hear from you. You can email me at and I will take your information back to our group.

Finally, Happy Social Work Month! to all of my brave, intelligent and compassionate colleagues. YOU make health care work and YOU make a difference.

Until next time-

Heather Brungardt
Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care

November 2020

Greetings Everyone!

Since I last wrote to all of you in July there has been much great work occurring on behalf of our members. There has also continued to be much uncertainty as the COVID Pandemic relentlessly marched on, our health care systems braced for potential financial impacts with furloughs, lay-offs and hiring freezes,  and our country awaited a decision about who become our next President. The anti-racism conversation also continued with seemingly little resolution. Meanwhile staff grappled with balancing working at home and virtual education of their children, while others managed their own COVID diagnosis or those of family members.

These are very challenging times for all of us and it makes me thankful, more now than ever, for the community of social work professionals that is part of SSWLHC. It really is true that we are stronger together than we are alone. The Board of Directors know this and continues to work diligently to create opportunities to bring our members together for learning, support, and visioning for the future. Following are a few highlights.

55th Annual Meeting and Conference Held Virtually October 17-20, 2020

When our Board realized early this summer that the live conference planned in Nashville, TN was not possible, we quickly pivoted to bring our members a virtual experience. With 171 social workers in attendance and including our Annual Awards, Leadership Institute, Pediatric Intensive, and 2 ½ days of educational offerings this year’s conference was a great success. While sponsor and exhibitor participation was lower this year, the conference planning committee created a virtual exhibit hall and ensured those that could participate saw value. The Social Work Health Leadership Foundation also brought its annual live auction to the virtual platform and raised over $6,000 to support the Society. We are so thankful for our members who worked tirelessly on the Conference Planning Committee and through SWHLF to ensure we could gather this year.

Additional Educational and Support Offerings

The Leadership Institute Committee led by Connie Nicolosi, Chair and Karen Nelson, Treasurer and  Board Liaison came together and drafted a new business model for this member product. All recognize the importance of providing leadership training designed for social workers in health care. And all recognize that it was time to refresh the offering, consider alternate delivery modalities and a pricing structure that supports facilitators and brings revenue to the Society. As of this writing, the plan is being finalized and we hope to share it with our members after the holidays. We hope you will consider becoming a facilitator to share your leadership experiences with the next generation.

Alissa Mallow, Board Liaison and Erica Menzer, Chair also worked together to begin an evaluation of our Mentoring product. Our members have shared with us how important it is to have opportunities to engage with other leaders for learning, support and career development. The Mentoring committee would like to expand this offering and create opportunities for collaboration with the Leadership Institute for post-LI coaching. More information will be shared early next year.

The Products and Resources Committee led by Alissa Mallow, Chair and Soo Shim, Board Member and Board Liaison have been working to bring webinars to our membership beginning this winter. Under consideration is offering webinars based on the Exemplars created by this committee as well as inviting Conference presenters to share more information on their topics. Also being considered is virtual affinity groups led by members to discuss current topics such as benchmarking, staffing models, implementing SDOH interventions, supervising staff, and data and outcomes among others.

And finally, thank you to Alissa Mallow and Soo Shim for taking the leap to become field instructors for 6 MSW macro students assigned to the Society. Alissa and Soo saw the need to support graduate students in field when COVID reduced or eliminated these options in many traditional health care settings. The students are working on various projects within the Products and Publications Committee and throughout the Society and will be with us through May.

I hope you all have a restful and peaceful holiday season and that you stay safe and healthy.

With Appreciation,

Heather Brungardt
Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care

July 2020

Greetings Everyone!

I hope this message finds all of you and your families safe and feeling supported. I hear colleague’s comment regularly that these are unprecedented times and I would certainly agree. I know many of our organizations are reeling from the COVID disease and its financial impact. We have members who have been furloughed or their positions eliminated at a time when our patients and their families need their support the most. Others are seeing their social work models of care shifted to meet these challenges. Through all of this I continue to see hope for innovation, change and new beginnings. Your Society is hear for you during this crisis and we want to hear from you. Please consider sharing your challenges and your solutions on our listserv; participate in our upcoming virtual 55th Annual Meeting and Conference in October, reach out to your colleagues across the country to learn best practices or consider joining one of our many committees. I know we are all pulled in many directions, but I hope that you will find your participation in our volunteer driven organization to be meaningful.

Board of Directors and Committees:

On July 1st, the new Board of Directors took office and we quickly set out to orient them to their new roles. All Board members were chosen by you to represent all health care social work members.  Following is a list of Society committees that a Board member is assigned to support as a Board Liaison (BL). Some of the committees need a Chair/Co-Chair (CC) to help recruit participants, lead meetings and set a vision for the group. To learn more about being a committee chair, click here.

Participating on a committee a great opportunity to learn about the Society, meet new colleagues, strengthen your resume, and contribute to the greater national social work in health care landscape.  Please email the Board Liaison for the committee you are interested in leading by August 15th.  Some committees are already underway, and you would transition into the work in early Fall.


Leadership Pillar:

Leadership Institute:
Board Liaisons:

Chair: Connie Nicolosi

Board Liaison: Alissa Mallow
Chair/Co-Chair: Immediate Openings Available

Member Experience/Standards of Practice Pillar:
2021 Annual Conference:
Board Liaison and Conference Chair: Chris McLaughlin
Openings are available starting this fall for the positions of: Abstract Champion, Intensives Champion, Speakers Champion, Sponsorship Champion & Volunteer Activity Champion

Communication and Marketing *NEW*:
Board Liaison: Hallie Stone
Chair/Co-Chair: Immediate Openings Available

Products and Resources:
Board Liaison: Soo Shim

Chapter Relations:

Board Liaison: Jeanette Foster

Advocacy Pillar:
Collaborative Partnerships *NEW*:
Board Liaison: Heather Brungardt
Chair/Co-Chair: Immediate Openings Available

Advocacy and Social Policy *NEW*:
Board Liaison: Erika Jewell
Chair/Co-Chair: Immediate Openings Available

Strategy Pillar:

Board Liaison: Karen Nelson

Strategic Task Force:
Board Liaison: Louise Knight
Chair: Ed Woomer

55th Annual Conference and Business Meeting:

We hope you are planning to participate in our annual meeting to be held October 18th-20th. Earlier this Summer we reached out to members and learned that overwhelmingly you wanted to find a way to gather during the COVID pandemic even if you could not travel to Nashville. Our conference planning committee set out to create a wonderful virtual conference including 4 keynote presentations with 24 breakouts and 2 intensives.  In addition, we will have many opportunities for virtual networking as well as holding our annual business meeting and awards ceremony. Registration is now open. We look forward to seeing you there!

Chapter Updates:

I would like to welcome all our returning Chapters and their members! As you know, in light of our new strategic plan including mission and vision statements, our Board of Directors updated our agreement with Chapters and our commitment to Chapter members early this Spring. Now, all local Chapter members will first be members of National and choose a chapter affiliation to participate in where available at no extra charge. Jeanette Foster and I will be working closely with the Chapters in the coming months to engage them in the work of the Society.

Value of Membership:

I have been reflecting lately on the value of membership in a society like SSWLHC. Typically, members point to the tangible things like attendance at our annual conference or leadership institute, engagement with our mentoring program, use of our ListServ or reading our publication and advocacy pieces. For me, the value is also from the connection to health care social workers across the country who are doing amazing, innovative and very hard work every day to make the world a better place. To be able to pick up the phone or send an email to another member to ask for advice, to share resources, policies, structures and programs means that I am not alone in my journey. I want all of you to experience the Society in a way that has meaning to you. Let us know how we can help.

Until next time,

Heather Brungardt
Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care

April 2020

Dear Social Work Colleagues,

I was reflecting this morning about how life has changed since I last wrote to you in January of this year. At that time, the Kansas City Chiefs had just won the Super Bowl, unemployment was at a record low 3.7%, we were all free to travel, have dinner out occasionally and there was a general sense of safety and order. In March, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States stay at home orders were issued along with social distancing. The unemployment rate rose that month to 4.4% and roughly 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment. Today, I am screened and my temperature taken when I arrive to work each day, all meetings are virtual, many of my staff are working from home and they have implemented telehealth for patient visits. Many of our families are isolated, lacking basic services and we are concerned for their safety. Likewise, we worry about the wellbeing of our health care colleagues who have experienced personnel and professional loss. As the death toll continues to rise in some areas, we also see hope that we will be able to begin the process of re-opening the country. But with that comes more uncertainty for our health systems and those we care for. As one of my physician colleagues stated, “the pandemic has been the sprint in our care of families and what comes next will be the marathon. “

Much has already been written about the value of health care social workers during this crisis and about the leadership required to move us forward. I remain proud to be in this profession and to be part of the health care team. I am also proud to be part of the Social for Social Leadership in Health Care as our member organization comes together to find our new normal and to be unrelenting in our commitment to our families. The work of the Society is continuing-here are a few highlights:

G2.0 Future of Your Society Strategic Task Force

Our Strategic Task Force, led by Ed Woomer, continues its work to implement our strategic plan. At present, task force members are engaging our young professionals, direct practice, emerging and senior leaders, Past Presidents, Chapter Presidents and strategic partners to understand their needs and how the Society can support them. The results of this work will be shared with the Board later this Spring. In addition, the Board will continue to explore opportunities for enhancing our member offerings, establish a fresh marketing campaign and consider changing the Society’s name to better reflect our commitment to all health care social workers.  As a reminder, here are our new mission and vision statements.


To be the leading professional organization for social workers in healthcare.


As the premier national and international organization for social workers in health care, we will empower members by providing access to evidence-based standards of practice, enhanced partnerships and collaboration, actionable support and education for direct care social workers, advocacy to inform local and national social policy and education for and connection with emerging and established leaders.

Annual Conference and Leadership Institute

Some of you have asked if we will hold our annual conference in October. The Board is considering many options at present to ensure that we can bring our members together for learning, networking and support. We don’t know what the status of the pandemic will be in the fall and that makes it challenging to change course with our conference site at present. We understand some health care systems may restrict travel or payment for conferences. We believe that this annual gathering is important, especially now so we are exploring many alternatives including a virtual conference. In the meantime, we hope you will consider submitting an abstract, nominating your colleagues for a social work award and participating in our Leadership Institute. We also want to hear your ideas about the event and plan to send a short electronic survey to all of you in the coming weeks.

Social Work Leadership Foundation-New Giving Category for General Operating Expenses

The SWHLF recently agreed to establish a new category of giving that will allow funds to be easily directed to SSWLHC for general operating expenses. This will reduce the need for Foundation approval of funds and allow the Society to maintain its operating budget during these trying times.

Please watch for an announcement including a link to make a donation to this new fund category in the coming days. As always, all donations to this fund or to SWHLF in general are tax deductible. Please contact Sabra Boyd, SWHLF President for more information.

Board of Director Election Results

At the time of this message, the results are in and our new Board of Directors are known. We are so thrilled with the number of members who ran for positions this year. We have a tremendous group coming on board that will be announced by our Immediate Past President, Tom Sedgwick later this week. Congratulations to all who were selected and to all who threw their hat in the ring.

As always, we want to hear from you. Please continue to post on our listserv or send us an email.

Stay Safe,

Heather Brungardt
Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care

January 2020

Greetings from Kansas City!

Happy New Year to all of you! What an exciting time to live in Kansas City as our Kansas City Chiefs football team heads to the Super Bowl to face off against the San Francisco 49ers! The excitement in our city is a welcome distraction from the bone chilling cold we are experiencing. As we enter into the new calendar year and a time of reflection, I am reminded of all the Society has accomplished and I am hopeful for what is yet to come.

Last year we entered into a strategic planning process, convened by our Board of Directors and led by Vista Cova, LLC and a Strategic Planning Task Force that includes dedicated SSWLHC members. At our Annual Conference last Fall, I shared the results of a current state survey of our membership and our roadmap for evaluation and planning for our future.  We also unveiled new mission and vision statements to guide our efforts:

To be the leading professional organization for social workers in healthcare.

As the premier national and international organization for social workers in health care, we will empower members by providing access to evidence-based standards of practice, enhanced partnerships and collaboration, actionable support and education for direct care social workers, advocacy to inform local and national social policy and education for and connection with emerging and established leaders.

This year the Task Force, led by Ed Woomer, will conduct a series of conversations with key stakeholder groups to gather insights that will help guide the development of our value proposition for our membership. In collaboration with our Board of Directors, we will determine new product lines that support all social workers in health care and possibly a refresh of our brand and our name. Thank you in advance to all who will aid us in this G2.0 Future of Your Society work.

At the same time, the work of the Society is moving forward as we plan for the 2020 Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, conduct regional Leadership Institutes, expand our Mentorship program, consider new products and increase our social media presence. None of this work will be possible without members like you who are willing to volunteer their time and expertise. On this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday I am reminded of this quote from Dr. King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”

Current Volunteer Opportunities include:
Board of Directors: Nominations are being accepted until January 31st for members of our Board of Directors including a President-Elect, Treasurer, Board Members-at-Large and a new Conference Chair Board Member. For more information about these positions and to learn about the nomination process please visit our website at

Leadership Institute Co-Chairs: Recently, long term leaders Mary Norris Brown and Lee Lucas stepped down as Co-Chairs of this committee. We are grateful for the contributions they made to growing future social work leaders in health care. With their departures, we are currently seeking nominations for members to Co-Chair this important group. The commitment is 2 years and will offer the opportunity to enhance this product and expand its reach to our members. Please send inquiries to Connie Nicolosi at

Conference Speaker Champion: This year we restructured our conference planning committee and added “champions” to lead the major aspects of this work. We are currently seeking a champion to help identify and secure key presenters of our plenary sessions. Please send inquiries to Bill Mejia at

As always, I welcome your thoughts and ideas about how we can better support you as well as how you can engage with us to make a difference. We remain committed to serving all of you and to ensuring a bright future for your Society.

Until next time,

Heather Brungardt
Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care

October 2019

Kansas City Here We Come and NASEM Social Needs Care Study Release

Dear Colleagues-

Fall is always a busy time with kids going back to school, preparations for the change of seasons and the ushering in of our Annual Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care Conference. This year, the Conference will be held in Kansas City, MO from October 20-24 at the Westin Kansas City Crown Center. Our conference planning committee worked hard to provide a variety of educational offerings as well as fun activities. The Foundation will once again hold its live auction and our post-conference intensives and Leadership Institute are sure to provide rewarding experiences.

This year at the conference I will also be talking to you about the results of our recent survey that over 1,000 Society members and stakeholders completed in May of this year. Our Board of Directors and our newly formed Strategic Planning Task Force along with our consultant Vista Cova used this data to begin conversations about opportunities to enhance our Society well into the future. You will want to attend this presentation to hear more on Monday, October 21st at 9:00am.  

I am also excited to announce that the NASEM study,” Integrating Social Care into the Delivery of Health Care: Moving Upstream to Improve the Nation’s Health” was released last week! As you recall, the Society along with the Social Work Health Leadership Foundation helped fund this study and Tom Sedgwick (Immediate Past-President) and I participated in many of this work group’s conference planning sessions.

A special session will be held at the conference on Monday, October 21st at 3:00 PM titled, “Moving Medicine Upstream by Integrating Social Work and Social Needs Care” to share the results of the study with all of you. You can also download the full report at Additional resources can be found here:

Key Messages:



I am looking forward to seeing all of you at the conference! Safe Travels!

Heather Brungardt
Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care

July 2019

Dear SSWLHC Members,

July marks the beginning of my tenure as President of the Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care; a position I will hold for the next two years.  While I have aspired to hold this position since I was a young social work professional and have been preparing since becoming President-Elect last year it seems surreal that the time is finally here. There is much work to be done so let’s get started!

Strategic Planning
As Tom shared with you in May, the Board of Directors for SSWLHC committed to developing a 3-5 year strategic plan to ensure the sustainability of our organization. A task force was formed that includes the following members:


Ed Woomer, MSW, LCSW


Heather Brungardt, MSW, LCSW, LMSW
Senior Administrative Director of Psychosocial Services
Children’s Mercy
Kyle Fernley
Account Manger
Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care
Jeanette Foster, MSW, LISW-S
Director, Social Work & Language Access Services
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Erika Jewell, LCSW, ACM
Manager, Case Manage and Social Services
Children’s Hospital of Orange County
Margaret W. Meyer, MSSW, MBA, LCSW
Director, Social Work
MD Anderson
Karen Nelson, MSW, MBA
Executive Director,
Social Work, Case Management, Spiritual Care, Aging Adult Services
Stanford Health Care
Walter Rosenberg, MSW, MS-HSM, LCSW
Rush University Medical Center
Social Work and Community Health
Tom Sedgwick, MSSW, LCSW, CCM
Senior Director of Social Work
NYU Langone Health

With recommendation from the task force and funding from the Social Work Leadership Foundation, we engaged Vista Cova, LLC to support the strategic planning initiative. In May, over 700 members and community stakeholders completed a detailed survey to inform the creation of our plan. Task force members will arrive here in Kansas City July 17th and 18th for a planning event led by the Vista Cova CEO Lowell Aplebaum. The results of this work will then be shared with the Board at their meeting on July 19th and 20th and with all of you during our Annual Conference in October. As you all know, planning is just the first step in the change process. The Board will meet virtually with Vista Cova monthly through the end of the year to review the work plan and to ensure we are meeting our milestones. There will be many opportunities for members to engage in this work.

Annual Conference
Our 54th annual conference will be held October 20th-22nd in my hometown at the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, MO. This year we are trying a new schedule that includes holding the main conference the first 2 ½ days with post-intensives and the LI at the end of the week. We also added a new Palliative Care Symposium this year that we hope will attract new attendees interested in this topic. Because we are in the Midwest, we are conducting additional outreach to our colleagues in health care and academia to encourage their attendance. If you arrive in Kansas City Saturday evening, please consider participating in our annual volunteer activity to be held Sunday morning at 10:00 AM. This year we will aid Care Beyond the Boulevard, a local non-profit providing medical and mental health care to homeless persons, by creating emergency kits. Please plan to purchase a ticket to attend our Social Work Leadership Foundation Live Auction and Reception to be held at 6:00 Monday evening at Grunauer Austrian-German Restaurant in the Crossroads.  If you can’t attend, there will be many other opportunities to contribute to the Foundation throughout the conference. Finally, if you haven’t done so already, please consider nominating a colleague for one of our prestigious annual awards that will be announced throughout the conference. We will also formally recognize the tremendous contributions Tom Sedgwick made as our President the last two years. Kansas City has much to offer in the way of shopping, dining and entertainment and our local MO-KAN Society Chapter members have been working hard to ensure your time with us is enjoyable!

Board of Directors
Your Board wants to hear from you! Please reach out to share your ideas and consider participating in work groups, task forces and through our List Serv and other social media platforms. As a reminder, here is a list of our Board of Directors and their contact information:


Heather Brungardt, LCSW, LMSW
Senior Administrative Director of Psychosocial Services
Children’s Mercy Hospital
2401 Gillham Road
Kansas City, MO 64108
Office (816) 234-3719
hbrungardt@cmh.eduJuly 1, 2019 – June 30, 2021
Past-President Thomas Sedgwick, MSSW, LCSW-R, CCM
Director of Social Work
NYU Langone Medical Center
545 First Avenue, GBH-C-10
New York, NY 10016
Office: (212) 263-5077
Thomas.sedgwick@nyumc.orgJuly 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020
Treasurer Hallie Stone, LCSW, ACM
Interim Manager – Clinical Social Worker
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
4650 Sunset Boulevard #38
Los Angeles, California 90027
hstone@chla.usc.eduJuly 1, 2018 – June 30, 2021

Board Members-at-Large

Erica Menzer, LCSW
Manager of Social Services and Case Management
Kaiser Permanente
101 Lennon Ct
Roseville, CA 95661
st8fmind@yahoo.comJuly 1, 2017 – June 30, 2020
Bill Mejia, LCSW, MSHCM
Manager, Social Work, Spiritual Care & Palliative Care
Huntington Hospital – Pasadena, CA
100 West California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA. 91105
Bill.Mejia@HuntingtonHospital.comJuly 1, 2017 – June 30, 2020
Connie Nicolosi
Social Work Manager, Pediatrics and Women’s Services
Yale-New Haven Hospital
23 Flax Mill Hollow
Branford, CT 06405
203-488-0108 July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2020

Louise Scherer Knight, M.S.W., LCSW-C, OSW-C
Director, The Harry J. Duffey Family Patient and Family Services Program
8215 Hortonia Point Drive
Millersville, Maryland 21108
scherlo@jhmi.eduJuly 1, 2018 – June 30, 2021
Soo Shim, MBA, MS, LCSW
Senior Social Worker
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
225 E Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
sshim@luriechildrens.orgJuly 1, 2018 – June 30, 2021
Student Board Member-at-Large
Joseph Johnston
New York, NY
​​July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020

Finally, many of you have reached out to ask the Society to advocate for the many political decisions as well as health care financing and policy shifts impacting our profession, our clients and society as a whole. We are listening and will talk in detail at our upcoming Board meeting regarding the best approach to use our voice to influence change. We are not a political organization and we do not conduct lobbying activities. We do have a strategic partnership group that we can leverage as well as all of you and will explore opportunities to act in the coming months. Let us know if you want to get involved. It will take all of us working together to make a difference.

Until next time,

Heather Brungardt
Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care