Council of Nephrology Social Workers

Who We Are

Mission Statement

The Council of Nephrology Social Workers (CNSW) functions as a professional membership council within the framework of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and networks with other organizations, including the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), state and local governments, and private groups. CNSW's purpose is twofold: one, to assist patients and their families in dealing with the psychosocial stresses and lifestyle readjustments and facilitate a treatment program that will maximize rehabilitation potential; two, to support the federal regulations governing ESRD reimbursement in regard to standards for social work practice and in the definition of a qualified social worker.

Strategic Goals

  1. Develop and promote patient and public education.
  2. Support and promote the profession and education of renal social work.
  3. Impact regulatory and legislative issues.
  4. Ensure the use of the qualified social work in the ESRD setting.
  5. Provide ongoing support and education to the renal patient.

The Early Years

When chronic maintenance dialysis became a reality in the 1960's, medical social workers rapidly became involved in this new treatment modality. The unique nature of the treatment, with its stresses and restrictions, served to mobilize renal social workers to reach out to each other to pool their knowledge and resources, increase their skills and provide mutual support. Local and regional groups of nephrology social workers began meeting on a regular basis, often as an adjunct to conferences sponsored by established organizations. In April of 1973, 75 social workers, chaired by Meg Jamison, met at a Veterans Administration interdisciplinary meeting in Boston, in conjunction with the American Society of Artificial and Internal Organs. This group was approached by the National Kidney Foundation regarding the formation of a national organization of nephrology social workers that would eventually serve as an advisory council to NKF. After much discussion and full recognition that those present were not truly regionally representative of social workers active in nephrology, the group voted to become a national organization. They took the name, the "Association of Nephrology Social Workers (ANSW)" and appointed officers. Dr. Norman Deane of the New York Nephrology Association contributed $250 toward getting the new organization started.

During the summer of 1973, the Renal Amendment took effect. This amendment removed the financial disincentives to providing chronic hemodialysis and thereby greatly improved patient access to treatment. As new facilities opened across the country, nephrology social workers not present at the Boston meeting were identified and invited to participate in ANSW.

In November of the same year, at the Annual Meeting of the National Kidney Foundation, the decision was made to adopt the professional council structure and invite ANSW to become the social work advisory council to NKF. The Council of Nephrology Social Workers (CNSW) was established with Judith Kari succeeding Meg Jamison as the first official CNSW President.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee meets once a year to set CNSW goals and to conduct the Council's business. Executive Committee meetings are held during the NKF Spring Clinical Meeting in the spring.

The CNSW National Membership elects most of the members of the Executive Committee. Committee members also serve on various ad hoc committees to develop special projects and position papers to further the goals, priorities, and interests of CNSW.

The Executive Committee members are listed below. Please feel free to contact your Region Representative or any other Executive Committee member at any time to provide us with your ideas, to volunteer for a special project, or whenever you need additional information. There are five CNSW regions. Determine your region representative.

CHAIR: Jennifer Bruns, LMSW, CCTSW
(313) 343-7153
Immediate Past Chair
Andrea DeKam, LMSW, NSW-C
(734) 432-7870
Professional Education Chair Dorothy Muench, MSW, LCSW, NSW-C
Membership Chair Maureen O'Grady-HamreLCSW, NSW-C, BCD
(973) 890-2394 
SCM Program Chair Kevin Ceckowski, MSW, LICSW
(301) 400-1127
SCM Program Co-Chair Elizabeth Jones, MSW, LCSW, FNKF
(703) 906-8467
Publications Chair Jeff Harder, LICSW, NSW-C, FNKF
(206) 598-4676
Region I & V Representative
Sarah Stevenson, LICSW, NSW-C, CCM
(401) 273-7100 ext. 6405
Region II & IV Representative Neeta Joshi, LMSW, NSW-C
(469) 232-5333
Region III Representative Jennifer Miller, LICSW, NSW-C
(612) 863-9107