Palliative and End-of-Life Care Faculty

Esther Chachkes, D.S.W., LCSW, Program Director

Esther Chachkes is retired as the director of Social Work and Therapeutic Recreation at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. She led the task force to implement a Palliative Care Consultation Program at the hospital and was the recipient of a United States federal grant to train psychosocial volunteers to assist during disaster events. She was also a member of the Medical Center’s Ethics Committee, serving as staff to the Chair. Over the past 25 years, she has held leadership positions in numerous organizations, including the National Association of Social Workers, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the Society for Social Work Administrators in Health Care. She is a Fellow of the NY Academy of Medicine and was inducted into the Academy of Women Achievers of the YWCA of the City of New York.  She is a clinical associate professor at the NYU Silver School of Social Work, teaching in the school’s postmaster’s certificate program in palliative and end of life care. She also teaches in the Smith College School of Social Work’s postmaster’s certificate program in palliative and end of life care and directs the field program. She is currently director of mentorship in the Zelda Foster Studies in Palliative and End of Life Care at NYU Silver School of Social Work.

Terry Altilio, LCSW

Terry Altilio is a palliative social work consultant with over three decades of direct practice experience in palliative care, most recently in the Division of Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. She is a recipient of a Mayday Pain and Society Fellowship Award in 2006 and a Social Work Leadership Award from the Open Society Institute’s Project on Death in America, which supported a social work postgraduate fellowship and a social work listserv, both of which are continuing programs. In 2013, Altilio was selected to receive the Project on Death in America, Career Achievement Award from the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Network. She lectures nationally and internationally on topics such as pain management, ethics, palliative care and psychosocial issues in palliative care. She lectures in post-masters programs at NYU, Smith and is a guest faculty in an internet course through California State University San Marcos. In addition to co-authoring publications, she is co-editor with Shirley Otis-Green of the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Social Work and most recently co-editor with Bridget Sumser and Meaghan Leimena of Palliative Care – A Guide for Health Social Workers.

Susan Conceicao, M.S.W., Ph.D.

Susan Conceicao is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 25 years of experience in hospice and palliative care both in New York City and Colorado. She received her M.S.W. at NYU Silver School of Social Work, and completed doctoral level coursework at NYU . She has acted as a hospice social worker, manager and educator. She is currently acting as an adjunct faculty/field liaison at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work. She has recently started her practice as a counselor/psychotherapist and clinical supervisor. Her areas of specialization include working with individuals and families who are dealing with chronic and life-limiting illness, grief and loss, caregiver stress and associated emotional difficulties (i.e. anxiety and depression) She is providing clinical supervision to social workers working towards LCSW licensure as well as acting as a mentor/consultant to students in the Smith College End of Life program and in the NYU Zelda Foster Leadership Fellowship program.  She has expertise in social work education, and the cultural aspects of end of life care. She has presented on various topics related to social work in end of life care including advocacy and pediatric palliative care. She is the author of a chapter on caring for patients and families at end of life in Palliative Care; A Guide for Health Social Workers. (2019)

Rev. Barb Harris, MDIV, BCC-PCHAC 

Rev. Barb Harris, MDIV, BCC-PCHAC is a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) and an APC Advanced Practice Palliative Care and Hospice Chaplain (PCHAC). Rev. Harris has 10 years of combined service in hospice and palliative care chaplaincy and currently serves as Palliative Care Chaplain, Spiritual Care Team Lead, ethics consultant, critical incident stress management (CISM) facilitator, and recipient of the 2017 Gustafson Award at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center in Vancouver, WA. Rev. Harris has a Master of Arts degree in Integrative Health Studies (IHL) from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco and a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. Rev. Harris completed interfaith studies and was ordained as an interfaith minister in 2008 through the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts & Interfaith Ministries, also in Berkeley.

Judith L. Howe, Ph.D., M.P.A.

Dr. Judith Howe is professor in the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and associate director/education and evaluation and deputy director, VISN 2 Geriatrics Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Bronx VAMC. She obtained her Ph.D. in social welfare from Fordham University and her M.P.A. from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She has many years of experience in the field of aging in areas such as program planning and evaluation, aging policy, education, curriculum development, interprofessional education and teamwork and community improvement. Howe worked as a staff member in the US House of Representatives and Senate and at the National Institute on Aging, NIH in program planning, evaluation and legislative affairs. Working for many years in the East Harlem, NY community, Howe spearheaded housing for low-income older adults in that community through a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. She has been or is the director or co-director of several interprofessional team and rural training initiatives, including the John A. Hartford Foundation funded Geriatric Interdisciplinary Team Training program, the Quentin Burdick Program for Interdisciplinary Rural Training and the VA Rural Interdisciplinary Team Training Program. She was the director of the New York Consortium of Geriatric Education Centers from 2005 to 2015. She has presented at many national conferences, published widely in peer-reviewed journals, edited or co- edited three books on aging and is the current editor-in-chief of Gerontology and Geriatrics Education. Howe is the chair of the Academy of Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). She is a Fellow of AGHE, GSA and the New York Academy of Medicine.

Anne M. Kelemen, LICSW, APHSW-C

Anne Kelemen is the director of Psychosocial/Spiritual Care for the Section of Palliative Care at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, where she conducts patient care, teaches and participates in a variety of research activities. She also serves as an associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University and as associate program director for the MedStar Georgetown Interprofessional Palliative Care Fellowship Program. Prior to joining the Hospital Center staff, Kelemen instituted the first palliative care service at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She is board certified in hospice and palliative social work and is a currently the vice-chair for the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Network (SWHPN).

Nicholas Koufacos, LCSW, ACHP-SW

Nicholas Koufacos, LCSW, ACHP-SW, is a clinical social worker and the senior education specialist at the VA Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC). He serves as the Dementia Care Coordinator and provides educational programs for VA staff in VISN2 (NY/NJ) and caregivers across the nation. He is an NYU School of Social Work graduate, and he completed the Zelda Foster Fellowship in Palliative and End-of-Life Care while at NYU. Nicholas completed his NYU post-graduate certificate in palliative and end-of-life care and was an Interprofessional Palliative Care Social Work Fellow at the GRECC. He has worked as a social worker in both the private and public sector. Presently, his focus is providing care coordination and support for patients with dementia and their caregivers by incorporating patient empowerment to promote self-care.

Eunju Lee, M.S.W., MSOD, APHSW-C, LCSW

Eunju Lee, M.S.W., MSOD, APHSW-C, LCSW, has worked as a social worker and activist for over 30 years. She was a human and labor rights advocate in her native Korea and returned to the US to work with Asian women and children survivors of domestic violence. After completing a second master's degree, she transitioned to end-of-life work and has been in hospice, palliative care, and oncology work for the past 14 years. She serves on the board of Social Work in Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) and sits on its Equity Working Group. She is also a part of the Heathcare Advisory Council of Compassion and Choices and a mentor and faculty of NYU Silver School's Zelda Foster Studies Program in Palliative and End-of-Life Care (PELC). Eunju currently works as a clinical oncology social worker at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). She has presented in numerous local and national venues on the topic of health equity and racial justice.

Barbara A. Reich, J.D.

Barbara Reich is a professor of law at Western New England University School of Law. She joined the law faculty in 2005 and teaches torts and a variety of health law subjects. She has served as a member of Mercy Hospital's Ethics and Social Justice Committee and Ethics Consultation Committee and as a member of Baystate Medical Center's Institutional Review Board. Before joining the faculty at Western New England University, she taught a variety of health law and bioethics courses for eight years at the University of Florida’s Colleges of Law, Medicine, and Health Professions as a lecturer in Law. Reich also has prior experience as a member of a hospital ethics committee and institutional review board at Florida’s teaching hospital.

She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her undergraduate degree in English literature from Union College, summa cum laude. She then spent two years in private practice in Washington, DC, specializing in pharmaceutical and medical device law. Her research interests include legal and ethical issues in end-of-life decision making; comparative end-of-life law; pediatric health issues; racial disparities in the delivery of health care, clinical research ethics and the impact of politics in science and medicine.

Reich was a past visiting scholar at Exeter University School of Law in the United Kingdom and Queen's University School of Law in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She also completed an appointment for Spring 2017 as the Schulich Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She published Intimations of Mortality: Decisionmaking at the End of Life, with Cambridge University Press, in 2022.

Colleen Shannon, M.S.W., LICSW

Colleen Shannon, M.S.W., LICSW, is the associate program director at The Children’s Room, the largest non- profit organization in Massachusetts solely dedicated to supporting grieving children, teens and families. At The Children’s Room, Colleen developed and now oversees all of the center’s adolescent, school and community-based programs. Colleen was instrumental in developing the center’s clinical internship program and she currently serves as a field adviser and clinical supervisor to masters-level social work students. 

She has worked exclusively with children, adolescents, adults and families coping with loss for the past 12 years and her experience includes work in medical, community-based and bereavement camp settings. Colleen presents locally and nationally on topics pertaining to childhood bereavement and her research interest includes sibling bereavement and families experiencing the loss of a child with special needs. Colleen is part of a specialty group practice in Newton, Mass., where she works with children, adolescents and families who are navigating life-limiting illnesses, bereavement and trauma.  

Lisa Zeitz, LMSW

Lisa Zeitz, L.M.S.W., began her career at NYU Medical Center in pediatric oncology.  There she established new programs to support critically ill children and their families.  Zeitz went on to work in a variety of settings, specializing in supporting patients and families as they face end of life struggles and challenges.

After work in outpatient hospice, she has spent the last 17 years at the Bereavement Center of Westchester, in particular managing a bereavement program for young families, the Tree House.  This program provides support to families with children between four and eighteen who have suffered the death of a parent or child.  In addition, she presents widely on children , families and grief.  Zeitz also teaches at the undergraduate and graduate level on loss and bereavement. She has also trained in mindfulness work and conducts trainings and workshops for groups in meditation techniques.