FHPCA Announces 2021 Officers and Committee Chairs

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Hospice & Palliative Care Association (FHPCA) is pleased to announce the Executive Committee for 2021. 

Paul Ledford, FHPCA President and CEO said, “Each of the members serving on the Executive Committee brings invaluable expertise and leadership to FHPCA. I thank them for their tireless dedication to the association and look forward to continuing to work together to serve the communities that mean so much to us.”

Jaysen Roa, Avow Hospice President & CEO said, “I am honored and excited to serve as Chair of FHPCA’s Executive Committee this year. Having served as Internal Vice Chair last year, I was inspired by the teamwork and leadership of the committee to take on this new role serving hospice organizations across Florida.”

2021 Officers and Committee Chairs:

Jaysen Roa, President and CEO
Avow Hospice 

 Jaysen Roa joined Avow as President & CEO in 2015. During his tenure, Jaysen has overseen the growth of Avow Hospice, Avow Palliative Care Services, Avow Foundation, and the Avow Kids children’s grief and loss program. Under his direction, Avow programs, services, facilities and resources for patients, their families and the community at large have grown significantly, serving more adults and children than ever in the company’s almost 40 year-history. Prior to joining Avow, Jaysen served as Executive Director at Good Shepherd Hospice based in Lakeland, Florida. He also held executive positions at HPH Hospice and began his hospice career at Hospice of Citrus County, all based in Florida.

Jaysen has completed numerous industry certifications in hospice and fundraising management. He holds a master’s in business administration and master’s in health administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from University of South Florida in Tampa.

Vice Chair, Internal Affairs
Peggy Pettit, Executive Vice President

 Peggy has more than 35 years of experience in hospice management and nursing. She joined VITAS in 1983 as a registered nurse in the Broward County, Florida, program and quickly rose through the ranks, serving as a nurse, team manager, patient care administrator, and general manager.

In the mid-1990s, Peggy served as vice president for all VITAS hospice programs in California before moving to Miami in 1998 as the company’s first vice president for patient & family services. 

Vice Chair, External Affairs
Pauline Taylor, President
Haven Hospice

Pauline Taylor RN, MHA is President of Haven Hospice after serving as Executive Director and Administrator at AdventHealth Hospice Care Central Florida (formerly Hospice of the Comforter). She holds a Master’s degree in Health Administration and is a Registered Nurse. She has worked in the hospice field since 1998 and has held positions in nursing, sales, and business development and operational leadership. 

In 2014, while serving as VP of Business Development at Hospice of St. Francis, FHPCA awarded Pauline with The Catalyst Award which recognizes an individual in any role within an organization who has consistently demonstrated leadership in forging the collaboration that makes hospice unique. 

Dian Backoff, Executive Director
Catholic Hospice

In March of 2018, Dian joined Catholic Hospice, as part of Catholic Health Services and The Archdiocese of Miami as the Executive Director.  Through her leadership, she has led the change management program in the past twenty months.

Dian is an Alumni of the South Florida Hospital Association and served as a Board Member for the Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP).  Her education includes studies in Health Services Administration at Barry University, and participates as a community panel member in the FAU Masters Healthcare Administration executive program.

Ben Eby, Executive Director
Halifax Health Hospice 

Ben Eby has been with Halifax Health Hospice since 2015.  He started as Director of Finance and was promoted to Director of Hospice in 2019 and then to Executive Director of Hospice and Palliative Care in 2020.  Prior to relocating to Florida in 2013, he had eight years of progressive management experience with a Toronto-based international healthcare company. 

Ben obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 2004 from Thomas Edison University in New Jersey, Certified Management Accountant designation in 2010, and Certified Public Accountant designation in 2014.  He is currently pursuing a Healthcare Master’s in Business Administration from Florida Tech.  Ben lives in Flagler Beach with his wife Debra and their four children and is passionate about the importance of quality hospice care and the role of Halifax Health within our community.

Committee Chairs:

 Public Policy Committee 
Rafael J. Scuillo , President & CEO, Empath Health

Rafael J. Sciullo assumed his role as president and CEO of Empath Health and its family of programs on Feb. 1, 2013.  With nearly 30 years as a leader in hospice and palliative care, his commitment to quality end-of-life care and compassion are well-documented.  He moved to Suncoast Hospice after 12 years as the leader of Family Hospice and Palliative Care of Pittsburgh, which became one of the largest, most highly-regarded organizations of its kind in Pennsylvania under his guidance.   

Sciullo blends his propensity for attention to detail and fiscal soundness with heartfelt empathy and concern for patients and families.  “There is no more important job humans can do for one another than caring for patients at the end of life,” he says.  He believes in staying close to patients and families to know firsthand what’s important to them and understand their needs. 

As a past president and chairperson of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and a recipient of NHPCO’s Founder Award, Sciullo is recognized nationally as a trendsetter in his field. 
Sciullo holds three master’s degrees and was educated at Duns Scotus College, Southfield, MI, University of San Diego and University of Connecticut. 

Chair, Research & Innovation Committee  
Valerie Kenworthy, Executive Director, Hospice of Health First

Valerie Kenworthy joined Hospice of Health First in 2002 spending time coordinating support services, business development and post acute services for the Health First integrated delivery system and since January 2013 has served as the Director.  Overseeing daily operations and creating and implementing strategic plans to move Hospice of Health First, inpatient and field programs, forward in its mission of serving the community.  

Valerie has been a speaker at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Conference and the Southwest Florida Coalition for Palliative Care, a member of National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Association and the Center to Advance Palliative Care.

Chair, Quality & Regulatory Affairs Committee
Susan Ponder-Stansel, President & CEO 
Alivia Care |  Community Hospice & Palliative Care

Susan began her career with Community Hospice (then known as Hospice of Northeast Florida) as a volunteer clinical social worker for the nonprofits new St. Augustine office in 1985, having just earned a master’s degree in social work from Florida State University. She became the organization’s first staff social worker in 1986.

She became Executive Director in 1988 and was named president and CEO of Community Hospice of Northeast Florida in April 1991. During her tenure, Community Hospice has grown from serving 60 patients a day with a staff of 35 to an organization of approximately 850 full- and part-time staff serving approximately 1,200 patients each day.

In addition to serving as president of the Junior Service League of St. Augustine from 1993-94, Susan has served on the Board of Directors of United Way of St. Johns County; the Advisory Board of the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board; the Trustees of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce; and the Jacksonville Women’s Network.

For more information about FHPCA, please visit www.floridahospices.org.



FHPCA is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization representing Florida’s hospice programs. The mission of FHPCA is to assure excellence and access to hospice care, and advocate for the needs of those in the final phases of life.