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Spotlight (October 2012)


Darla Spence CoffeyThe Council on Social Work Education announced that its board of directors unanimously elected Darla Spence Coffey as its new president. Coffey, a professor of social work, associate provost, and dean of graduate studies at West Chester University in West Chester, Pa., began her new role in July.

According to CSWE, Coffey is a nationally recognized author and speaker on issues associated with domestic violence. She received her bachelor’s degree from Eastern College, her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania and her Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College.

Coffey is a longtime member of CSWE and has served on the Commission on Curriculum and Educational Innovation, where she played an active role in the development of the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, and the Commission on Leadership Development.

She is also a member of NASW, the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors, and the Pennsylvania Association for Undergraduate Social Work Education, where she served as president from 2003-2004.

Gail Gunter HuntGail Gunter Hunt received the 2012 Under Secretary for Health’s Award for Excellence in Social Work Leadership. The award recognizes a social worker in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs system who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and whose work has had a significant impact on the provision of care to veterans.

Hunt is the Women Veterans Program Manager at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wis. According to Carol Sheets, national director of Social Work at the Veterans Affairs Central Office, Hunt inspires staff toward a vision of sensitive and competent care for women veterans.

She also has extensive geriatric program management and has trained more than 106 graduate social work students. Hunt was involved in the development of the National Women’s Health Mini-Residency Program, which has trained primary care providers across the nation since 2008.

Ellen GrantEllen Grant was named the new commissioner of senior services for Erie County, N.Y., in June. According to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Grant brings extensive experience in the health care field, having worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, Buffalo General Hospital and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, among others. She also served as Erie County commissioner of mental health under former Executive Dennis Gorski, from 1988-2000.

Carolyn MessnerCarolyn Messner was given the 2012 Oncology Social Worker of the Year Award. The award was established by the Association of Oncology Social Work to provide an annual opportunity to recognize an exceptional, experienced oncology social worker and active contributing member of AOSW. The award is presented to an oncology social worker who, in the day-to-day delivery of compassionate service, is a model for the profession itself. This award is supported through contributions to AOSW.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced that Suzanne Fields (no photo) has been selected to join SAMHSA as senior adviser on health financing. Fields serves as lead on the Health Reform Strategic Initiative. She works closely with SAMHSA staff and stakeholders on preparation for and implementation of health reform as well as on critical SAMHSA relationships with other federal agencies on health financing and related activities.

Fields has nearly 20 years of experience as a state and city administrator, provider and clinician. Her work has spanned multiple settings, including Medicaid, mental health and substance use, children’s services, child welfare and managed care.

SAMHSA announced that Paolo del Vecchio (no photo) has been selected to serve as the next director of the Center for Mental Health Services. He has worked for SAMHSA for 17 years in various roles, including acting director of the CMHS Associate Director for Consumer Affairs and acting director for the Office of External Liaison.

He was the first consumer affairs specialist SAMHSA hired.

“Throughout his work, Paolo has been a leader, pushing the envelope on a wide range of consumer issues, including consumer participation and education, issues of discrimination and prejudice, wellness, recovery, trauma, and access to treatment,” said Pamela S. Hyde, administrator at SAMHSA.

He has an MSW from Temple University in Philadelphia.

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