HOPA Publications Committee

Ashley Glode, PharmD BCOP, Editor

Megan Bodge, PharmD BCOP, Associate Editor

Christan Thomas, PharmD BCOP, Associate Editor

Edward Li, PharmD, Board Liaison

Lindsey Amerine, PharmD MS BCPS

Brandi Anders, PharmD BCOP

Lisa M. Cordes, PharmD BCOP BCACP

Morgan Culver, PharmD BCOP

Karen Fancher, PharmD BCOP

Craig W. Freyer, PharmD BCOP

Robert Mancini, PharmD, BCOP

Sarah Newman, PharmD BCPS

Sarah Ussery, PharmD BCOP

View PDF

Board Update: A Candle in a Hurricane

susannah koontz

Susannah E. Koontz, PharmD BCOP FHOPA
HOPA President (2017-2018)
Principal, Koontz Oncology Consulting, LLC
Houston, TX

You feel like a candle in a hurricane …”
Those words are the opening line of the 2007 hit “Stand,” by Rascal Flatts. It’s a song about overcoming obstacles in life. We’ve all had moments when we are challenged by forces seemingly bigger and stronger than ourselves—when our flame flickers to near extinguishment.

This metaphor came to life during the past months for many residents of the Gulf Coast, when Hurricanes Harvey and Irma wrought devastation across the region, most notably in Texas and Florida. Some HOPA members, including me, live and work in those paths of destruction. Our thoughts remain with those still recovering from the damage and loss inflicted by those storms.

HOPA, too, has been a circulating engine of energy, but with productive rather than destructive results. In early June, HOPA attended the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), where we accomplished a great deal. HOPA President-Elect Ryan Bookout, Industry Relations Committee Chair Niesha Griffith, our HOPA Professional Relations and Development team of Julie Ichiba and Michael Bourisaw, and I met with several pharmaceutical industry partners to discuss current and potential professional collaborations. At this conference HOPA also participated in the first meeting of ASCO’s CancerLinQ Oncology Leadership Council (OLC). HOPA is an inaugural member of the group overseeing this health information technology platform, and we are fortunate to have Amy Seung serving as our representative on the OLC. Not surprisingly, several of our HOPA colleagues also attended ASCO to present their research relating to innovations in the management of cancer patients and delivery of cancer care within the healthcare system.

Also in June, HOPA introduced revisions to our committee structure. The changes made will improve our organizational functionality and facilitate more communication among groups with similar responsibilities for supporting our strategic plan.

June ended with HOPA’s participation in a timely meeting on biosimilars, therapeutic agents of importance to us as hematology/oncology pharmacy professionals. Edward Li, a HOPA board member at-large and a renowned authority on these entities, represented our interests at the PDA/FDA [Parenteral Drug Association/Food and Drug Administration] Biosimilars Conference in Bethesda, MD, June 26–27. In these discussions we were able to provide important feedback to regulatory agencies on the strategies required to successfully bring biosimilars to market.

You don’t have to be a Washington insider to predict stormy weather buffeting our nation’s capital. Each week seemingly brings a new development in the debate on healthcare reform. To help us stay the course through the storms, this summer our Public Policy Committee, chaired by Tim Tyler, issued “Principles of Healthcare Reform” (, a position statement that frames our beliefs and serves as a foundation for our involvement. This group continues to monitor issues of importance to our practice and profession (such as pharmacists’ provider status and the 340B drug-pricing program) and ably advises us on advocacy opportunities.

HOPA’s 5th Annual Practice Management Program (PMP), chaired by John Valgus, was held in Chicago, September 15–16 (see Lindsey Amerine’s article on p. 19 in this issue for more details). Nearly 300 attendees gathered to hear presentations on issues affecting the implementation and support of pharmacy services, such as the Oncology Care Model, justification of oral chemotherapy services, and strategies to improve medication safety. This year our popular preconference workshop focused on the logistics of investigational drug services. To mark this milestone anniversary of PMP, the keynote lecture was named in honor of Past President Niesha Griffith. Niesha, a hurricane in her own right, has been instrumental in conceptualizing and developing the PMP since its inception in 2013.

At the conclusion of the 2017 PMP, we welcomed Michael Bourisaw as our interim executive director following the retirement of Suzanne Simons. Michael has worked with HOPA for the past 5 years and helped us develop diversified revenue streams and build relationships with other stakeholders. Just a few weeks into his leadership, we are already benefiting from his expertise in nonprofit operations and board governance. Michael has also been an asset to me personally, providing essential wisdom for guiding HOPA during this time of transition.

Finally, at the midpoint of my presidency, I leave you with a reflection on leadership, a pearl of wisdom once shared with me by my mom: blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours burn brighter. Encountering needless obstacles in our work can be challenging, to be sure. And it’s easy for the winds of change to knock us down or dampen our enthusiasm. But responsibly fostering innovation paves the way for meaningful growth and progress. As I noted at the end of my remarks as incoming president at our 2017 Annual Conference in March, working hard for something we love is called passion. I remain passionate about our organization and dedicated to you as members. We will encounter storms along the way, but I am confident that HOPA’s candle is poised to burn more brightly than ever.