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In the various roles he has undertaken through the years, Val J. Halamandaris has been a singular driving force behind the policy and program initiatives resulting in the recognition of home health care as a viable alternative to institutionalization. His dedication to consumer advocacy, which enhances the quality of life and dignity of those receiving home health care, merits VNA HealthCare Group’s highest recognition and deepest respect. 

VNA HealthCare Group

I have the highest respect for them, especially for the nurses, aides and therapists, who devote their lives to caring for people with disabilities, the infirm and dying Americans.  There are few more noble professions.

President Barack Obama

Home health care agencies do such a wonderful job in this country helping people to be able to remain at home and allowing them to receive services

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Chair, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee

Home care is a combination of compassion and efficiency.  It is less expensive than institutional care...but at the same time it is a more caring, human, intimate experience, and therefore it has a greater human’s a big mistake not to try to maximize it and find ways to give people the home care option over either nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Medicaid covers long-term care, but only for low-income families.  And Medicare only pays for care that is connected to a hospital discharge....our health care system must cover these vital services...[and] we should promote home-based care, which most people prefer, instead of the institutional care that we emphasize now.

Former U.S. Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-CD)

We need incentives to...keep people in home health care settings...It’s dramatically less expensive than long term care.

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)


Home care is clearly the wave of the future. It’s clearly where patients want to be cared for. I come from an ethnic family and when a member of our family is severely ill, we would never consider taking them to get institutional care. That’s true of many families for both cultural and financial reasons. If patients have a choice of where they want to be cared for, where it’s done the right way, they choose home.

Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

A couple of years ago, I spent a little bit of time with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and its president, Val J. Halamandaris, and I was just blown away. What impressed me so much was that they talked about what they do as opposed to just the strategies of how to deal with Washington or Sacramento or Albany or whatever the case may be. Val is a fanatic about care, and it comes through in every way known to mankind. It comes through in the speakers he invites to their events; it comes through in all the stuff he shares.

Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

Val’s home care organization brings thousands of caregivers together into a dynamic organization that provides them with valuable resources and tools to be even better in their important work. He helps them build self-esteem, which leads to self-motivation.

Mike Vance, former Dean of Disney and author of Think Out of the Box

Val is one of the greatest advocates for seniors in America. He goes beyond the call of duty every time.

Arthur S. Flemming, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Val has brought the problems, the challenges, and the opportunities out in the open for everyone to look at. He is a visionary pointing the direction for us. 

Margaret (Peg) Cushman, Professor of Nursing and former President of the Visiting Nurses Association

Although Val has chosen to stay in the background, he deserves much of the credit for what was accomplished both at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he was closely associated with me and at the House Select Committee on Aging, where he was Congressman Claude Pepper’s senior counsel and closest advisor. He put together more hearings on the subject of aging, wrote more reports, drafted more bills, and had more influence on the direction of events than anyone before him or since.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Val’s most important contribution is pulling together all elements of home health care and being able to organize and energize the people involved in the industry.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Anyone working on health care issues in Congress knows the name Val J. Halamandaris.

Kathleen Gardner Cravedi, former Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Aging

Without your untiring support and active participation, the voices of people advocating meaningful and compassionate health care reform may not have been heard by national leaders.

Michael Sullivan, Former Executive Director, Indiana Association for Home Care

All of us have been members of many organizations and NAHC is simply the best there is. NAHC aspires to excellence in every respect; its staff has been repeatedly honored as the best in Washington; the organization lives by the highest values and has demonstrated a passionate interest in the well-being of patients and providers.

Elaine Stephens, Director of Home Care of Steward Home Care/Steward Health Systems and former NAHC C

Home care increasingly is one of the basic building blocks in the developing system of long-term care.  On both economic and recuperative bases, home health care will continue to grow as an essential service for individuals, for families and for the community as a whole.

Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

NCOA is excited to be part of this great event and honored to have such influential award winners in the field of aging.

National Council of Aging

Health care at home…is something we need more of, not less of.  Let us make a commitment to preventive and long-term care.  Let us encourage home care as an alternative to nursing homes and give folks a little help to have their parents there.

Former President Bill Clinton


The Empty Chair

By Melissa Jeremiah


What does a board member look like? A board member may be a retired police officer, the owner of the local car dealership, a stay-at-home mom, a retired bank president, or a local farmer. As you can see board members come in various packages, and it’s imperative to choose the right person for the job when filling a vacant board of director’s seat. Having served on various nonprofit boards, I have sat on a board whose members worked as a symphony orchestra, and I have sat on a board that was like a beginning band with more squeaking than harmony.

These experiences have shown me that vetting candidates is mandatory when selecting persons for seats on a board of directors. It is also a good idea to have an idea of who you would like to fill a seat before the seat is vacant.

Some traits of a perfect match may include:

  • Dedication: This includes a dedication to the nonprofit’s corporate mission statement, which should guide decisions made by the board of directors.
  • Passion: If a person is passionate about a cause, they are much more likely to be willing to dedicate their time to the endeavor.  
  • Team player: As a member of a board each person must be a team player who looks out for the best interests of the organization, not their own. And they must also be able to reach consensus during times of decision making.
  • Out of the box thinker – It is good to have board members who initiate change and whose goal is not just maintaining the status quo. This especially true in the nonprofit world where new ideas and ways of doing things should always be welcome. Or as inventor Charles Kettering put it, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”
  • Ethical – It is paramount to ensure that an organization runs in an ethical manner and abides by the regulations, rules, and guidelines federal and state government set out. The board is responsible for seeing the mechanics are in place to ensure policies and procedures are followed, for setting an example for the CEO and their staff by showing there will be zero tolerance of fraud and abuse, and for making sure agencies take compliance seriously by having a written code of ethics and a corporate compliance plan.
  • Discrete: Board members must adhere to confidentiality standards about items that are discussed during board meetings, especially executive committee meetings. Some items may be considered trade secrets, and not be public knowledge until a later point in time. For example a board may not want it to be public knowledge that they are thinking of expanding their service area until there is an official decision on the matter.
  • Financial guru: You need someone in the treasurer position who will be acutely aware if the financials begin to take a downturn and closely monitor the books before there is a financial emergency. It is also good to have a treasurer elect, who is being groomed to step into the position of treasurer, ensuring that key data, including past history, is not lost when the reins are turned over to a new person. 
  • Community involvement: Board members are the eyes and ears in various communities for the CEO.  All of them should be encouraged to bring forward ideas for future projects in their community and to give advice on issues as they arise.

A good fit need not include all these qualities, but watch out for the traits of a not-so-perfect match:

  • Someone who oversteps their boundaries, attempts to micromanage the CEO, and not allows them to perform their job: The board is to be responsible for the 20,000-foot-view of the agency, not the boots-on-the-ground view.
  • Someone who has self-serving reasons for serving on the board: This is why it is important to have all board members fill out a conflict-of-interest form each year.
  • Someone who doesn’t have time to commit to the board: There are some people who are very knowledgeable and tick all the boxes to be a good member, except one that is required of the position: time. It is wise to set a policy that a board member can be dismissed from the board if they miss a certain number of meetings.

When a board doesn’t work in unison, it may be because the organization has not provided the board members with orientation on their role. If you take 30 people and do not give them direction you will have 30 people performing their role in 30 different ways.

You must give new board members orientation just as you would give it to a new employee. This orientation should include items such as general overview of the agency; annual report; corporate by-laws; personnel policies and procedures; committee assignments; list of fellow board members; board member duties, meeting dates, and times; and a tour of agency facilities. Some CEOs will request staff to attend board meetings from time to time to educate the board on their specific area of expertise. Board members tend to become more passionate, dedicated, and engaged when they hear from someone first-hand about the agency and its importance in the communities it serves. In addition, there are two more items that all nonprofit board members should be aware of.

One is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, among the federal laws that deal with nonprofit accountability and conduct.  The act mandates a number of reforms to increase corporate responsibility, enhance financial disclosures, and combat corporate and accounting fraud. The full text of the act is available at:  Nonprofit board members can find links to all Commission rulemaking and reports issued under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act at

They should also be familiar with IRS Form 990, a form nonprofits use to provide the IRS with the information required by section 6033. You can find the form at

Once a new board member is on the board it is important to see they are made to feel part of the team. Usually it is very apparent if a board member is not taking an active role at meetings and any icebreakers preceding the meetings. It may be a good idea to partner the new board member with a more seasoned board member, who can help them grow in their new position. Some people jump right into the role of a board member with both feet and instantly are a valuable part of the team. Other people take a bit longer and have to tread the waters before they feel comfortable in their new role. Some boards have retreats that encourage cohesiveness among the various team members, and this is a good time to work on an agency’s strategic plan. 

To succeed going ahead, boards must have leadership. The chairman sets the tone for the board, and the position requires a strong leader who can guide the board when presiding over meetings, seek answers when decisions need to be made, and have the respect of the other board members. As part of succession planning, someone should be also groomed to serve as the next chairman. On one of the boards I serve on, the vice-chairman, is also the chairman elect, giving the chairman time to orient the vice chairman and ensure a smooth transition when the time comes. Some boards even go so far as to have the chairman remain on the board in an ex officio status so their vast knowledge will not be lost.

Each board must decide what works out best for them when it comes to succession planning. But if they want to stay in tune, all boards must plan on how they are going to fill that empty chair.



About the Author: Melissa Jeremiah, RN, CHCE is the Director of Operations at Hoosier Uplands Home Health Care and Hospice in Mitchell, Indiana. Melissa serves on the IAHHC Board of Directors, as Vice-President, and is currently the Chair of the Education Committee. Melissa has served on the NAHC VHCAA Advisory Board since 2008. 







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