In the Spring of 1982 an enlightened Beverly Deason, Director of Service and Rehabilitation for the American Cancer Society, Florida Division, Inc., realized the importance of providing oncology social workers with opportunities for continuing education. She formed a Social Work Advisory Committee to the ACS State Committee for Service and Rehabilitation and asked that Randy Stacey chair this committee. Other Advisory Committee members included: Mickey Bard, Cindy Huffman (Rivers) Debbie Hurwitz, Meta Gufstafson, Karen Keroack, Theresa Westland, Emily Tooley, Kathy Connolly (Baker), Sharon Thomas. The committee quickly identified two areas of concern. Oncology social workers needed both continuing education opportunities and opportunities to receive emotional support from their peers.

In July, 1982, the Advisory Committee sent Beverly a proposal for developing a statewide organization for oncology social workers that could provide opportunities for both ongoing support and education. It was suggested that these objectives could best be met through regional group meetings. The proposal was accepted and the state was divided into seven initial regions, with Advisory Committee members serving as regional coordinators. Planning continued.

In March, 1983, the first regional meetings were held in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Orlando, Tampa, Clearwater, Stuart and Miami. In November of 1983 the Advisory Committee officially named our efforts as the Florida Society of Oncology Social Workers (FSOSW). The purpose of the organization is to enhance the knowledge and skills of social workers involved in oncology, thereby enabling social workers to better meet the changing needs of cancer patients and their families. In early 1984 the committee was expanded to include Debbie Bouce (Byron), Drew Forfar (Straker), and Nancy Elkins. We developed eight additional regions, for a total of fifteen, and adopted our eternally inspiring logo, created by Karen Keroack.

Adolescent Growth

In August of 1984 FSOSW members elected their first Executive Committee:

President: Karen Keroack
Vice President: Meta Gustafson
Secretary: Kathy Connolly (Baker)
Treasurer: Cindy Huffman (Rivers)

Bylaws were developed, we planned our first annual state-wide conference held in Tampa in May 1984 and we published our first newsletter. During this time the ACS Florida Division received a National Honor Citation Award for our group’s efforts to provide for the needs of Oncology Social Workers throughout the state. Over the next two years the organization continued to grow state-wide. Annual conferences were held in Miami in 1985 and Orlando in 1986.


In November of 1986 the following individuals were elected to office:

President: Marcia DeSonier
Vice President: Charles Cannon
Secretary: Debbie Boyce (Byron)
Treasurer: Kathleen Moore

The next two years were times of continued growth and maturity. FSOSW was incorporated as a non-profit organization and achieved tax exempt status with IRS. The By-laws were revised and a new election process of electing a President-elect every year and a Secretary and treasurer every other year was approved by the membership. The annual conference held in Tampa in the fall of 1987 was a huge success as a result of the excellent planning done by Nancy Elkins.By August of 1988, FSOSW was financially secure with a bank balance of $7,800 and over 100 dues paying members.The Fifth Annual Conference in Orlando was also a great success.We gave coffee mugs with the FSOSW logo and “we make a difference” on them to all members.


In September of 1988, FSOSW was placed into good hands with the election of these individuals:

President: Charles Cannon
President-elect: Kathleen Moore
Secretary: Pendy Payne
Treasurer: Chuck Kuehn

1989 quickly proved to be a year of great change in the faces of FSOSW. Charles Cannon resigned as President due to career responsibilities. As Kathleen Moore assumed the President’s position, the Executive Board unanimously appointed Nancy Elkins as President-elect. This was a timely appointment as Nancy was the Conference Coordinator for the 1990 NAOSW conference on St. Petersburg Beach.Chuck Kuehn was promoted to Director of the Tampa AIDS Network and consequently resigned his position for the remainder of the two year term. Linda has proven her hard working capabilities as 1989 Conference chairperson. In the fall 1989, Dave Blenco was elected President-elect for FSOSW.


1990 was busy, exciting an filled with achievements. FSOSW made a significant contribution to the success of NAOSW’s Sixth Annual Conference on St. Petersburg Beach. Dave Blenco worked closely with the American Cancer Society, providing Resources, Information and Guidance (RIG) training to ACS volunteers and social workers throughout the state. In keeping with our history, Drew Straker, Conference Chairperson, organized an impressive state meeting in Orlando. This was also the year for a new professional look to our newsletter, FSOSW PERSPECTIVES. Most significantly, in response to a stronger and more mature organization, a double slate was offered in the state election. The following individuals were elected to office:

President-elect: Linda Scott
Secretary: Kim Kauss
Treasurer: Allan Schweer


In 1991 FSOSW experienced continued growth and development. Dave Blenco, President, continued to work closely with several members of FSOSW to successfully complete the phase I training for the Resources Information and Guidance (RIG) Program and move into phase II training. There was a significant increase in regional activity across the state, due to the strong leadership and networking of the FSOSW Regional Coordinators. The FSOSW PERSPECTIVES continued to develop into a more professional newsletter and moved into receiving sponsorship from health care vendors.Lourdes Grenier, Conference Chairperson, and the members of Region 14 successfully organized a stimulating state conference in Miami.Nancy Elkins, past-president of FSOSW, was elected as President of NAOSW. Marcia DeSonier, also a past-president of FSOSW, served as President of the Florida chapter of NASW and was elected as Region III Director of NAOSW.


1992 was the tenth anniversary of the FSOSW organization. Nationally, FSOSW continues to be recognized as one of the strongest state organizations. Due to the growth of the organization, FSOSW developed the new appointed positions of membership chairperson to the Executive Board to redistribute some of the Treasurer’s responsibilities. FSOSW’s first membership chairperson was Judith Lubling Zucker, LCSW, who will serve a two year term. FSOSW had to say goodby to one of our founding supporters, Beverly Deason, Director of Service and Rehabilitation for the American Cancer Society, Florida Division, Inc., who retired from her position.Debbie Cone, MSW and her Conference Committee organized an impressive ninth annual conference at St. Petersburg Beach, which focused on issues of grief and bereavement. FSOSW made a commitment to support two organizations that will directly affect the quality of patient care:the Florida Cancer Pain Institute (FCCS).