This year we are pleased to honor Helen McNeal and Peggy Davis, two outstanding leaders, for their steadfast commitment to shedding light on the lives of others.
Helen B. McNeal
Helen McNeal is the Executive Director of the California State University Institute for Palliative Care at CSUSM. She is an executive with experience in non-profit and for-profit leadership whose career has woven together her dual passions, facilitating working relationships that enhance individual/organizational performance and advancing the field of palliative care.
Prior to joining CSUSM, Helen served as Vice President of San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine (SDHIPM) where she was responsible for all of the operations of The Institute for Palliative Medicine (IPM).
Prior to joining SDHIPM in 2007, Helen was Founder and President of Naria LLC as well as Vice President of Strategic Partners, Inc. where she was responsible for consulting with clients on a variety of organizational development, leadership and strategic relationship facilitation solutions. During the 1990s, Helen was the National Director of Training & Development for the American Diabetes Association in Washington, D.C.; President, Managing Partner and co-founder of Bridgepoint: The Centre for Human Resource Development in Toronto, Canada; and early in her career focused on technology-oriented marketing and communications.
In parallel with her business career, Helen has also been instrumental, both in the United States and Canada in helping to advance the field of palliative and end of life care. The founder, former Board Chair and Board member of Evergreen Hospice in Markham, Ontario, Helen has consulted with both U.S. and Canadian government agencies on palliative care strategies. She is also the co-author of Module IV: Palliative Care of A Comprehensive Guide to the Care of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS. She has consulted with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization on state hospice organization initiatives and led a national project to look at end of life care in the American prison system.
In addition to a degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan, she has done post-graduate study in business, psychology and organizational development.
Peggy Davis graduated with honors from Marquette University with a degree in Dental Hygiene. She has served in private practice in San Diego for 40 years. She is also a Professor in the Dental Hygiene program at Southwestern College.
Peggy has had a lifelong commitment to volunteerism. She is a member of La Mesa Sunrise Rotary, part of Rotary International, a Worldwide Service organization whose motto is “Service Above Self”. She has been a member for 27 years and has served as Director of Community Service for 5 years. She has coordinated such projects as painting classrooms and building raised bed gardens at elementary schools, San Diego symphony field trips for 4th graders, planting fruit trees at Noah Homes (a residence for adults with special needs), cleaning up the grounds and reroofing picnic areas at Lake Murray, serving meals to residents at St. Vincent De Paul, and feeding homeless youth with Urban Street Angels.
Peggy’s love of animals goes back as far as living memory and she has worked with dogs since childhood.
Peggy has been raising and training Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs since 1979. She is a Breeder of Merit with the American Kennel Club. She shows her dogs herself and has successfully placed every dog she has titled in obedience in the top ten nationally. In 2012, her dog Gracie was nominated for Therapy Dog of the Year with AKC. Peggy became interested in Therapy Dog work in 2009 and wanted to focus on visiting our Veterans. When Peggy’s sister Barbara Smith, a Family Nurse Practitioner with LightBridge, contacted her to see if she would be interested in visiting the Veteran’s Home in Chula Vista, she jumped on it. It was clear from the beginning that Peggy was where she and her dogs needed to be. Peggy visits weekly and not just hospice patients. Almost everyone wants a visit from the dogs. The residents fell so in love with Gracie, Peggy’s lead Therapy Dog, that when Gracie was pregnant and going out on “maternity leave”, they threw her a Puppy Shower! The residents have really taken ownership of the Ridgebacks and now one of Gracie’s sons is a regular visitor, training for his Therapy dog title.