Executive Committee

FHPCA is proud of our dedicated and outstanding Executive Committee, we feel honored to have such a talented group of people leading our organization.

2022 Officers and Committee Chairs:

Jaysen Roa, President & 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.

Jaysen’s hospice experience include developing innovative patient-centered approaches to providing care, facilities and outreach in an ever-changing health landscape. His efforts include public policy advocacy both nationally and at the state level to advance hospice, palliative care and post-acute, home-centered care.

Jaysen is the Florida hospice representative serving the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Council of States and a member of the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation.

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 of 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.

Peggy is a longtime member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), and serves as co-chair of its Membership Committee. She also is a Board member of the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life, and was recently named to the Board of Community Home Accreditation Program (CHAP). Peggy also acts as a hospice expert advisor to the Joint Commission, and has worked in the past with the NHPCO Regulatory sub-committee. Peggy is a Certified Healthcare Compliance Professional.

Vice Chair of 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.

Pauline maintains Advanced Certified Hospice Executive certification administered by the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH). The accreditation demonstrates advanced competencies for strategic positioning, financial management, and legal compliance issues.

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.

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.

Dian Backoff, Executive Director
Catholic Hospice

Dian is an accomplished executive with an in-depth background in providing strategic direction and oversight to the healthcare industry with a strong focus on improving bottom line growth for new and existing hospices. Her leadership skills have taken her as far as directing a team to grow a small hospice operation into the nation’s leading hospice provider.  She is adept at working in both startup and corporate environments and possesses experience leading projects for a variety of functions including opening hospice and palliative care units, new program development, day-to-day management of large teams, call center operations, as well as patient care.

She began her career as an intake admissions expert and has worked at the bedside as an LPN. Throughout the years, she gained the experience which allowed her to increase her role and responsibility through a wide range of management positions, such as; Director of Admissions, General Manager and Vice President of Operations.  As the Vice President of Operations for The Caring Foundation, she was accountable for leading all business development activities including creating and offering a shared services program to US-based hospices.  From 2015-2018, she was a Hospice Consultant for ValueCare at Home Registry and Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

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.

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. 

Chair, 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. 

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