While most people tend to open their hearts a little more around the holiday season, Beth Koon keeps hers open every day of the year. “My purpose in life is to serve. My passion lies in helping those who are in need 365 days a year,” she says.
Beth has a long, active history of service to social work and volunteerism. It began when she was a student at Wesleyan majoring in pre-professional social work. She spent summers and Christmas vacations working on the psychiatric unit of her hometown hospital. In graduate school, Beth served as President of the Florida State University’s Association of Student Social Workers. After receiving her master of social work in clinical work, Beth continued her service to through involvement with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). NASW has more than 150,000 members worldwide and is the primary professional association for the social work profession. Beth’s service in NASW includes two years as president of the Florida chapter board of directors. During her presidency, NASW Florida chapter was the tenth largest chapter with approximately 6,000 members. Chapter membership grew by three percent during her tenure. She also served as NASW diplomat in clinical social work from 1994 – 2016. In 2009 Beth was honored as NASW Heartland Unit Social Worker of the Year, and in 1992, NASW Central Florida Social Worker of the Year. In 2006, she was recognized with the prestigious Winter Haven Hospital Community Mission Award. “Being able to help others is the reward,” she says. “There is a need every day.”
Beth’s service through her professional association has remained active over the years. She has testified many times on behalf of clinical social workers to the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Healthy Counseling. She has also testified before the Florida Legislature to advocate for the civil rights of mentally-challenged citizens. Beth has represented Florida social workers’ interests in the development and revision of policy statements and by-laws of the association in Washington, D.C. and remains a popular presenter of professional workshops in Florida.
Because of her extreme love for her hometown, the Winter Haven native is currently active on six boards: Your Polk County HUB Inc., Institutional Review Board of Polk State College, Humane Society of Polk County (vice president 2015-2017), Angels Care Center of Eloise, Winter Haven Charity Challenge (executive team member), and the Amaryllis Club of Bok Tower Gardens. She has served on the CURE Human Cancer Awareness Ribbon Planning Committee, as a member of Symphony Guild of Winter Haven, the Community Foundation, and is a past member of the board of directors of Women’s Resource Center of Central Florida.
Since 2016, Beth has been employed as performance improvement project manager at BayCare Health System/Polk Region in Winter Haven. A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Beth facilitates improvement teams in problem-solving efforts using Six Sigma, Lean Kaizen, FOCUS-PDSA, and Work-Out methodologies. She works with multi-functional teams and leadership to develop, execute, and complete selected improvement projects by providing a hands-on approach to problems.
For her unwavering dedication to her hometown community and for her commitment to improving social work and healthcare quality, the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association presents the award for Distinguished Service to the Community to Beth Koon.