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 CNSW Executive Committee is composed of fourteen members:

  • Chair
  • Chair-Elect
  • Immediate Past Chair
  • Membership Chair
  • Publications Chair and Co-Chair
  • Clinical Nephrology Program Chair and Co-Chair
  • Professional Education Chair
  • Regional Representatives of the five National Kidney Foundation Regions.

The Executive Committee meets twice a year to set CNSW goals and to conduct the Council's business. Executive Committee meetings are held during the NKF Clinical Nephrology Meeting in the spring and one additional time in the year. The additional meeting is coordinated with the NKF Board.

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.

The effectiveness of the Executive Committee is directly related to knowing and responding to the needs of Local Chapters and Members.

CHAIR: Andrea DeKam, LMSW, NSW-C
(734) 432-7870
Chair-Elect Vacant
Immediate Past Chair Leanne Peace, MSW, LCSW, MHA
(573) 882-2506
Professional Education Chair Dorothy Muench, MSW, LCSW, NSW-C
(336) 454-0076
Membership Chair Melissa Fry, MSW, CAPSW, NSW-C
(608) 847-1837
SCM Program Chair Kim Gusse, LMSW, ACSW, FNKF
(616) 267-2366
SCM Program Co-Chair Jennifer McClain MSW, LSW, NSW-C
(702) 384-2242
Publications Chair Lisa Hall, MSSW, LICSW
(206) 923-0714 ext 109
Region I & V Representative Thomas Lepetich, MSW, LCSW
(609) 828-5062
Region II & IV Representative Deborah Collinsworth, LAPSW, NSW-C
(731) 668-0800 ext 1124
Region III Representative Jennifer Miller, LICSW, NSW-C
(612) 863-9107
Professional Membership Director
(800) 622-9010 x174