Without a doubt, Steve Smith is perfectly suited for the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), an AMC client whose membership has doubled to more than 4,000 over the past several years. Steve’s lifelong interest in healthcare and aging services began when, as a child, he relished going from room to room to chat with residents of his great-grandmother’s nursing home. “I’m sure that wasn’t typical,” he acknowledges today, “but I found the residents interesting and engaging.”
In high school, he started an intergenerational program that still exists today in which students regularly visit “surrogate grandparents” at a local nursing home. He then set up a similar program in college, but this time students visited Medicaid patients, most with little family around, at a county nursing home located on the outskirts of town. Eventually he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations (with a minor in gerontology) and a master’s degree concentrated in organizational communication and aging services.
Today, Steve is all about collaboration and networking, and providing the optimal infrastructure to do so expertly and expeditiously. Prior to joining AMC in 2007, Steve worked at Chicago-based Alzheimer’s Association and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He says that AAHPM encompasses the values he admired most at these organizations—passion and compassion among healthcare providers, and a team-oriented, interdisciplinary approach to patient care.
Streamlined collaboration or “co-leadership” among AMC staff, volunteers, and AAHPM committee and board members has helped the Academy become a leader in a burgeoning field that continues to gain the attention of both the public and media. Recently, Steve was recognized for his forward-thinking leadership by his AMC team and the Association Forum of Chicagoland as “Superstar Boss of the Year” and with a presidential citation award by AAHPM.