By Joyace G. Ussin, MSN, RN, BSBM, CCM

Houston Gulf Coast Chapter of CMSA had sustained huge losses in that the established board members retired: chapter membership declined, vendor participation decreased, and with the Covid pandemic looming, events and conferences had to be canceled.

With a newly elected board in September of 2021, the members had to brainstorm and create fresh ideas to stimulate interest in the organization.

Our objectives were:

  1. Refocus on current needs and challenges of case managers
  2. Attract new board members familiar with technology
  3. Pivot to online meetings
  4. Increase membership
  5. Obtain vendor participation

Which resulted in:

  1. Providing educational topics to meet the needs of the case managers in person and virtually
  2. Creating a thriving presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a QR code on marketing material
  3. Offering monthly meetings with free CEUs online and in person options
  4. Increasing membership from 50 to over 100 members
  5. Lining up vendors to sponsor events throughout the year and for our annual conference

A Collaboration of Talents

 With Cynthia Hopkins at the helm as president, the task at hand was to establish a board with creative ideas, learn how to effectively use technology and to revitalize a declining chapter. With that in mind, the search began to garner the “right” people to place into each position.

Colleen Moreno and Debra McDonald not only stayed on board to assist in the rebuild, but also lent their talent and expertise in advising the newly elected board in financing and preparing for its annual conference.

Yvonne Thompson- Treasurer

Joyace G. Ussin & Heaven Sims— co-chair education events

Nerissa Arce - Secretary

Teneische Perry and Justin Garrison - co-chair social media/Advertisement

Initially, Vanessa Parker chaired membership; however, after accepting a promotion, she relinquished her post and newly appointed Saji Paul ran with the membership ball!

This dynamic team worked untiringly to distribute information, foster interest and push the agenda of the Houston Gulf Coast Chapter.

Let’s Get It Started in Here!

Fresh wind, fresh fire and a spirit of excitement helped the new board to embrace ideas and events that made the CMSA Houston Gulf Coast chapter the center of conversations all around Houston.

December 2021, a Christmas gathering sponsored by several vendors at a local restaurant would bring in several new members before the new year, and a chapter that once was dying felt revitalized!

Numbers Rising

The monthly events gained momentum as the year progressed and by June, the chapter was piquing interest and new members were joining weekly.

Therefore, at the prompting of our President, Cynthia Hopkins, the Houston chapter applied for The Phoenix Award, which would be presented at the National conference in Orlando, Florida. At first, it seemed like a long shot; however, the Board continued to work hard towards revitalization.

Monthly events were held at local restaurants, bars, pizza parlors, retirement communities and skilled nursing facilities while offering free CEUs and meals.  The crowds kept growing and the sponsors kept coming as the excitement grew.

A Long Shot

Late on a Saturday evening, Cynthia called and was convinced that Houston Gulf Coast chapter had met all the requirements for The Phoenix award and was even more focused than ever to get the application submitted prior to the deadline.  Her mind was made up that “we are going to win this!”  Therefore, after thoroughly writing, rewriting and reviewing the application, it was submitted.  She poured everything she had into a long shot!

We Are the Champions

Cynthia, Nerissa and I travelled to Orlando for the National Conference in June 2022 in great anticipation of acquiring new information to share with our chapter and enjoying the exhilaration that comes with gathering of our colleagues from all over the United States.  We were so excited to be able to be in a conference setting because we had been limited to Zoom and electronic meetings since the beginning of 2020; that when our chapter’s name was announced at the National conference; we literally froze for a moment!  Then it hit— WE WON!

You Can Do It, Too

Winning this award was one of the most exciting and rewarding things that could have happened to Houston Gulf Coast Chapter!  We used this award to promote our chapter, solicit and secure sponsorships for our conference and boost the morale of our members.

We would urge any chapter that has worked hard to revitalize membership to submit your application as well. Take the time to thoroughly think through what you have done to reach your goals this year and secure the recognition for your labor.

Push above negativity and naysayers and rise to Phoenix status!

See you at the top!

Joyace G. Ussin, MSN, RN, BSBM, CCM
CMSA Chair of Education/Events Houston Gulf Coast Chapter
MD Anderson Ambassador
Published Author/Westbow Press 2019


Did your chapter have an excellent conference or educational event? Did they use technology in an innovative way or undergo a revitalization? Members, reach out to your chapter leaders to let them know what accomplishments have meant the most to you this year and encourage them to submit your chapter for an award. Chapter leaders, submit your nomination today: 
Chapter Awards Deadline: February 21