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Around AOSW—A Look Back and a Look Ahead

February 1, 2020

After spending 2019 as AOSW President-Elect, January 1 marked my first day as AOSW President. I am excited and a bit nervous to begin my presidential year. I take great comfort in knowing that I will not do this alone. Working with our outstanding board, our wonderful management team at Kellen and all the dedicated member/volunteers whose time and talent make AOSW such a valuable professional organization for oncology social workers will make this year a productive one for AOSW.

I want to specifically recognize a few individuals who have been instrumental in preparing me for the year ahead. I succeed Eucharia Borden who has been a wonderful role model and mentor. She has graciously stated her willingness to continue in that role and to remain very actively involved in her role as Past President. Tara Schapmire has left the board after three years of truly inspirational leadership and will no doubt continue to contribute, especially in her areas of interest—research and organizational integration. I also owe a debt of gratitude to the Kellen team, especially Emily Burch, AOSW’s Executive Director, and Jordan Burghardt, Member Services Manager, both of whom work tirelessly on our behalf often behind the scenes. 

A warm welcome to our new board members, Bill McDermott (President-Elect), Heather Goltz (Education Director) and Linda Matthew (Director at Large). They will, I am sure, bring valuable expertise and ideas to the table.  

2019 marked the end of AOSW’s three-year strategic plan. In reviewing the plan, AOSW can be proud of the progress made in those three years. The 2017-19 strategic plan had three overarching goals:

  1. Organizational Development. AOSW will exemplify excellence in leadership, governance and knowledge.
  2. Professional Development. AOSW will be THE catalyst for the advancement of psychosocial oncology.
  3. Connectivity. AOSW will connect people, organizations and information for the promotion of psychosocial care in oncology.

Each of these goals had objectives and tactics attached to them and, overall, AOSW made significant progress toward these goals. But there is still work to do and exciting things ahead for the organization as a whole and our members.

This past October, under Eucharia’s leadership, the board and incoming board members met to begin the process of creating a new three-year strategic plan. It was an intense and productive day and a half. While there is still work to do to finalize the plan, I thought my first Navigator article as President would be the ideal place to share some broad strokes of what we believe is a plan that will go a long way to fulfill our mission—to advance excellence in the psychosocial care of people with cancer and their families.

We have established four major goals.

  1. Professional Empowerment. Empower oncology social workers to be leaders and premier providers of quality psychosocial cancer care.
  2. Collaboration and Integration. Cultivate internal collaborations and external strategic partnerships that elevate oncology social work in quality cancer care.
  3. Reach and Impact. Expand the knowledge and understanding of psychosocial care across diverse communities and stakeholders.
  4. Organizational Health. Operate AOSW with optimal efficiencies, fiscal responsibility and transparency.

The board and its committees will continue to develop specific objectives and tactics and expect to finalize the plan in early 2020. Once finalized, the work begins on implementation. We will keep you in the loop.

I want to give a huge thank you to Vicki Kennedy who volunteered her time to facilitate the board retreat in October. We could not have found a better facilitator as Vicki is herself a former AOSW President, a current fellow of AOSW as well as having experience in helping to create strategic plans. 

Finally, AOSW is your professional organization and I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to remind you that there are many opportunities to volunteer your expertise and to take advantage of opportunities for professional growth through participation in AOSW.  Please feel free to be in touch with any of us on the board or Special Interest Group (SIG) leaders if you have an interest in getting involved. If you are not sure of what you would like to do, you can reach out anyway and we will help you find a good fit.

About the Author

Sara Goldberger, MSSW, LCSW-R

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