By Beth Lenegan
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” —Helen Keller
In July, chaplains from across the country will gather in Anaheim, CA, with the realization that we cannot do our ministry alone. Two associations will come together to look toward the future as professionals, who value the diversity of our members and our patients, and who continue to discover new research and resources. This gathering happens in the framework of prayer, hospitality, and fun.
This year’s conference planning committee identified the main theme as Partners in Shaping the Future, with four underlying topics that will be explored by our plenary speakers: collaboration, supporting diversity, research, and professionalism. The plenary subcommittee has invited four dynamic and versatile speakers to present on these topics.
On Thursday, July 12, Dawn Gross will begin our conference speaking on the art of collaboration. Working together, we can truly be present for those individuals entrusted in our care. We are chaplains in community, not in isolation. Gross holds a combined MD and PhD from Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences. She is currently a hospice and palliative care physician in California, host of a call-in radio program, “Dying to Talk” on KALW 91.7, and a sought-after speaker, writer, and educator. Dr. Gross will begin our time together reminding us of the importance of joining together in partnership for the welfare of many.
On Friday, July 13, we will be reminded of supporting diversity and inclusiveness with our second plenary speaker, Dr. James Mason. We are called to accept and appreciate people of all races, creeds, cultures, and lifestyles, and we will be challenged to examine how open we are with colleagues and those we meet in ministry. Mason is the chief diversity officer for Providence Health & Services in Oregon. He is the former director of the Office of Multicultural Health for the State of Oregon and a co-founder of the National Association of State Offices of Minority Health. Mason will lead us to think beyond the traditional meaning of diversity.
The Rev. Dr. Steve Nolan will be the third plenary speaker Saturday, July 14, exploring current research in chaplaincy, spirituality, and healthcare. Nolan is a chaplain at Princess Alice Hospice and a visiting research fellow at the University of Winchester, England. He has published research on the concept of hope and has been described as an “appealing presenter, integrating lived experience of chaplaincy with solid research in such a way that participants at all levels of skill and competency could understand and relate.”
As we prepare to go home, we are sent forth in recognition that we are professionals with integrity. On Sunday, July 15, Adrienne Boissy, MD, MA, will speak to our current and future role as professionals. Boissy serves as Cleveland Clinic’s chief experience officer and led the development of the Center for Excellence in Healthcare Communication. Boissy is a staff physician at the Cleveland Clinic Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis and has a secondary appointment in bioethics. She attended Boston University and worked in neurobiological research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. She completed her medical training at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and finished her neurology residency and neuroimmunology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic.
Each of these plenary speakers will unite the community of chaplains gathered in Anaheim and in their unique way challenge us to remain partners as we move into the future.
Beth Lenegan, BCC, is director of pastoral care at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY.