Social Work in the Public Eye (March 2010)

Judy Lukas Arnold Judy Lukas Arnold received the 2009 Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health Award for Excellence in Social Work Leadership.

Arnold was recognized for her 33 years of service to the nation’s veterans. She is one of 7,000 social workers employed by the VA. She is currently the chief of social work service for the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, which serves Topeka, Leavenworth, Wyandotte County, Saint Joseph, Fort Riley, Fort Scott, and surrounding areas.

Some of Arnold’s career highlights include: 1) being the project lead for “The Price of Freedom: The Military Experience” film, which won two national awards; 2) leading an “Affirming the Commitment” film project on “The Memory Keeper,” a scrapbooking/journaling interactive CD for children of deployed soldiers; 3) graduating from Leadership VA, class of 2005 and being elected by her peers as a Leadership VA Co-Leader, class of 2006; and 4) heading up home care, hospice, respite, family caregiver and other initiatives at many of the seven VA Medical Centers where she has been employed.

In addition to Topeka and Leavenworth, Arnold has worked at the Kansas City; Tucson, Ariz.; Memphis; Sheridan, Wyo.; and Little Rock, Ark., VAMCs and the Veterans Integrated Service Network based in Kansas City.

Arnold is president of the Association of VA Social Workers and president of the Society of Social Work Leadership in Health Care, MO-KAN Chapter. She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a member-at-large of the Leavenworth Lions Club. She is past chairperson of the VA Social Work Leadership Council, past president of the Memphis YWCA, and founding member of the Sheridan Women’s Center and Wife Abuse Shelter.


Shay Sorrells (no photo) was profiled in the Los Angeles Times about her latest efforts following her nationwide television appearance as a contestant of the Season 8 NBC show “The Biggest Loser.”

The story noted that viewers followed Sorrells’ goal to lose weight. “Her story was heart-wrenching: Neglected as a little girl by a drug-addicted mother, she bounced between foster care and extended family,” the article stated. “She became a social worker who helped repair other broken families but could do little more than eat over her own personal pain.”

Sorrells did not win the competition, but she showed up at the season’s finale 170 pounds lighter and determined to lose about 100 more. The show’s trainers issued a new challenge: Subway, one of the show’s sponsors, will pay Sorrells $1,000 for every pound she loses before the Season 9 finale in May.

“It was mind-blowing enough to hear (trainer) Bob say that my story inspired millions,” Sorrells said in the article. “As a social worker, that’s my goal. And then I heard him say ‘$1,000 a pound.’ And I thought, ‘Did I hear that right?’”


Diane BlumOncology News International noted that Diane Blum is the new CEO of Lymphoma Research Foundation. She comes to the foundation from CancerCare, where she served as executive director for 20 years.

LRF is the nation’s largest lymphoma-focused voluntary health organization devoted exclusively to funding lymphoma research and providing patients and health care professionals with critical information on the disease.

During her tenure as executive director, CancerCare grew from a regional agency to a $35 million organization that provides professional support services and financial assistance in all 50 states to people with cancer and their loved ones.

Errol Cook, chairman of the LRF Board of Directors, noted in a press release that Blum’s vast experience and knowledge will successfully lead LRF into the next decade.

“It is wonderful to officially join LRF as its chief executive officer,” Blum said in a statement. “I am excited to join this dedicated team of professionals and confident that through collaboration, ambitious goals and a shared commitment to impact, we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by a lymphoma diagnosis.”

Prior to joining CancerCare as its director of social service, Blum served as social work supervisor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Blum is also editor in chief of, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Web site for patients and the public. She serves on committees of ASCO, NASW and the Institute of Medicine and is a member of the editorial boards of five oncology-related publications. She is co-founder of the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations and is also a founder of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Her honors include the Special Recognition Award from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and the Special Recognition Award of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Most recently, Blum received ASCO’s 2009 Partners in Progress Award.