Christy Whitney, President and CEO, is a master’s-prepared Registered Nurse who began her career as a hospice nurse 40 years ago and who has served as a non profit hospice organization CEO for the past 28 years at Capital Caring and HopeWest. Prior to those positions she served as the founder of an all volunteer hospice in 1979, hospital based hospice and home health agency and as the VP of Patient Care Services of a hospital. She served more than 12 years on the Board of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. She founded and serves on the executive committee of the Board of National Hospice Partnership for Innovation and is the CEO liaison to the Innovation Lab of the group.
She authored the first American Nurses Association Hospice Nursing Standards and has written chapters for the Veterans Administration hospice manual. She also authored the first edition of the Hospice Services Guidelines for the National Hospice Organization. She served as a member of the Joint Commission PTAC on hospice and also on the Standards and Regulatory/Policy committees of the National Hospice Organization more than 20 years.
As part of her commitment to the VA system she provided education and consultation across 5 regions of the system in collaboration with Tom Hoyer, a CMS senior executive responsible for hospice and other post-acute payment regulations. She served as a congressional intern in the office of Congressman Willis Gradison.
Christy has served on numerous hospice and health related Boards, including most recently the Caring for Colorado Foundation, the Western Healthcare Alliance, and was appointed to the National Rural Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services advising the Secretary on healthcare challenges in rural America.
She has been committed to the expansion of hospice and palliative care internationally through work on a grief model with leaders from Taiwan and Singapore with the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement, and served on the board of the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has traveled and provided consultations on hospice in Africa, the U.K. and Norway.
Christy has been the recipient of numerous awards recognizing her achievements, including:
- Rocky Mountain Health Plans “Bruce Wilson Award” for community collaboration.
- Creative Visionary Award by the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce
- Outstanding Alumna for the University of Colorado School of Nursing
- Grand Junction Rotary Service Above Self Award
- Colorado Women’s Foundation Woman of the Year
- Statewide Colorado Nurses Foundation Nightingale Award
- Girl Scouts of American “Woman of Distinction” Award
- 90 Nurses in the State of Colorado recognized for contributions to the profession on the 90th Anniversary of the Colorado Nurses Association.
- Colorado Nurses Association District Nurse of the Year for Achievement in Direct Client Care
- Sigma Theta Tau (International Honors Society for Nursing)
Christy is also a sought-after educator and speaker on the topics of leadership, standards of practice and other topics related to organizational development.
Georgia Rock, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Hospice Services, joined the HopeWest team in August 2018. Georgia comes to Grand Junction from the San Francisco Bay area. She is leaving her position at a large nonprofit hospice, Pathways, after a 20-year career, having served for five years as Vice President of hospice and more recently as the Chief Strategy Officer. Pathways is an organization founded in 1977 and has a robust hospice about the size of HopeWest and an even larger Medicare Home Health program accredited by JCAHO.
Georgia has more than 30 years of operational experience in both home health and hospice. She holds an MBA and an undergraduate BS in Communication Disorders from CSU. She was recently honored by the Silicon Valley with a Women of Influence Award.
K. Ellissa Tiller, MD FAAHPM, CPE, Chief Medical Officer, Medical Affairs, joined HopeWest in December 2016 and serves as its Chief Medical Officer. Prior to HopeWest, she established the Sentara RMH Palliative Care Program in Harrisonburg, Virginia, 2010 and served as its Medical Director for over 6 years. Dr. Tiller was also the Medical Director for Sentara RMH Hospice. Dr. Tiller is Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and was made a Fellow of the American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2016. She finished an Internal Medicine Residency program at the University of Virginia Roanoke-Salem program in 2000, and has extensive experience as a primary care physician and hospitalist. She completed medical school at the University of Queensland in Australia and worked as a general practitioner in rural Australia. Her awards include the Donnelly Award for best all-round Internist in 2000 and the RMH Golden Stethoscope Award for excellence in patient care, customer service, communication and teamwork in 2010, and the HopeWest Heart of Hope Award in 2018, for exemplifying the mission and values of HopeWest. She is recognized as a Certified Physician Executive (CPE).
Sarah Walsh, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, joined the HopeWest team in January 1998, Sarah Walsh initialized an in depth review of the system. She participated in Hospice familiarization and orientation with staff and took advantage of both national and regional opportunities.
This analysis led to the development of various financial management tools that interpret system information for staff and managers as well as the Board. Applying her experience from corporate analysis to the healthcare realm, Sarah has been able to implement advantageous strategies for HopeWest. Emphasis on identifying key control and cost drivers has provided an ongoing thorough analysis with focus on solutions that accelerate growth, while allowing for expansion of the mission.
Terri Walter, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, joined HopeWest in September 2000. Terri’s Hospice career started in 1987 when she was Primary Nurse for Porter Hospice in Denver. From 1988-1999 she served as Director of Porter Hospice, leading the hospital-based Hospice organization through steady growth in daily census, the establishment of two inpatient hospice facilities, integration with a home health program and a merger with another Hospice.
Terri has been active in state and national Hospice organizations, serving on various committees and taskforces and speaking on the topics of Inpatient Hospice and Quality Management. She currently serves on the Board of Directors and Public Policy Committee for the Hospice & Palliative Care Association of the Rockies, the Board of Directors for Nightingale Western Colorado, and is on the Signature Events Council for the National Hospice Foundation. In 2014, Terri was the recipient of the President’s Award from the Colorado Center for Hospice & Palliative Care and was honoured as Nightingale Luminary by the Colorado Nurses Foundation.
Debbie Horwitz, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer, joined HopeWest in January 2010, bringing with her more than 20 years of nonprofit and business experience. Her career began in Los Angeles where she consulted with businesses specializing in international trade. She became involved with several nonprofits including the Elton John Aids Foundation, The Friendly House and the LA Zoo. Relocating to Grand Junction in 1996, Debbie joined the board of directors of the Western Slope Center for Children, The Performing Arts Conservatory and The Mesa County Medical Society Alliance. She was the Director of the March of Dimes for 6 years prior to working at HopeWest. She earned her BA at the Elliot School of International Affairs and her Master’s degree in Business from The George Washington University.
Jenny Marquez, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, joined HopeWest in March 1999. She graduated from David Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN and spent the first part of her career in both the corporate and nonprofit realms. She brought to HopeWest a combined knowledge of corporate strategies and nonprofit experience which have been instrumental in her roles within the organization.
Jenny joined the organization working in the development department, assisting with fundraising and donor management and has served in many other capacities within HopeWest since she began. In her current role, she leads the Marketing department focusing on strategically communicating the HopeWest message to internal and external customers.
Mary Wigington, Vice President of Human Resources, has worked in the Human Resources field for almost 20 years, joining HopeWest in November of 2008. Mary has a bachelor’s degree in Organization Development from Regis University in Denver, Colorado and is a Senior Certified Professional through the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). Mary has served on the Board of Directors for the Western Colorado Human Resources Association (WCHRA, the local SHRM Chapter) for several years, currently serving as the Director of Programs and Professional Development. In her volunteer position with WCHRA she brings human resource related educational programs to the Western Slope. She was chosen as the “Human Resources Professional of the Year” in 2011 by the Western Colorado Human Resources Association.