NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Esther Chachkes (1936 - )
Esther Chachkes has made major contributions integrating the fields of medicine and social work as Director of Social Work at New York University’s Medical Center and as Clinical Associate Professor at NYU’s Medical School and School of Social Work. She co-led seminars on bio-ethics for medical students and, at the NYU School of Social Work, taught a ground-breaking course on leadership and collaboration in the Post Master’s Certificate Program on Palliative and End of Life Care. Chachkes taught a similar course at Smith College.
During her tenure at Montefiore Hospital during the 1980’s, Chachkes took a leadership role in organizing New York City’s social work community’s response to the AIDS epidemic. Her advocacy efforts were influential in establishing several work forces and committees, including the AIDS Social Work Network, formed in 1983 to serve as a forum for advocacy on policy issues. The Network also provided a place of emotional support for social work staff who were working with young AIDS patients. In 1986 the network became a task force with full NASW chapter status. For this as well as other city-wide work around the AIDS crisis, Esther Chachkes was recognized by NASW with the Diego Lopez Award in 1988.
Chachkes was instrumental in creating the NYU Medical Center’s psychosocial response to 9/11 by developing a series of response teams for patients, families, and staff. The program is considered a benchmark program and, in 2002, she received the only Psychosocial Medical Reserve Core grant awarded by the Office of the Surgeon General at that time.
In addition to her administrative positions at major New York city hospitals, Esther Chachkes served as Associate Clinical Professor of Social Work at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work, and as Clinical Associate Professor at New York University’s School of Medicine, until her retirement. Chachkes was a seminar leader at workshops in human sexuality at Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 1982-1986 and an instructor in human behavior in psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 1977 – 1986. Chachkes currently serves as a consultant at the New York University (NYU) Silver School of Social Work.
She has served as a board member, advisor or co-chair to numerous organizations.
1995 – 2000 – Member, Aging Advisory Council, New York City Department of Aging
1993-2001 - Gay Men’s Health Crisis
1990-1998: Hospice Advisory Board, Cabrini Hospice, Cabrini Medical Center
Esther Chachkes received her Doctorate degree in 1994 and her MSW in 1972 from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University. She has a Post Master’s Certificate in Bioethics from the NYU and Montefiore Hospital Program.
Significant Achievements and Awards
2010: presented with the Education and Training Issues Award at the 6th International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental Health in Dublin
1999: inducted into the Academy of Women Achievers of the YWCA of the City of New York
1988: recipient of Diego Lopez Award in recognition for work in social services and AIDS in New York City
1999 – present: Fellow, The New York Academy of Medicine
Chachkes has published numerous articles and book chapters. Highlights include:
Fulmer T., Portelli, I., Foltin, G.L., Zimmerman, R., Chachkes, E., Goldfrank, L.R.. (2007). Organization-based incident management: Developing a disaster volunteer role on a university campus, Disaster Management & Response, 5(3), 74-81.
Chachkes, E. (1999, revised 2006). Social work and rehabilitation. Medical aspects of Disability, M. Eisenberg, R. Glueckauf, and H. Zaretsky (Eds.), New York, Y:Springer Publishing Company.
Chachkes, E. & Foster, Z. (2004). Taking charge: Social work leadership in end-of-life
Chachkes, E., Ehrlich, E., & Eisen, M. (2003). A history of AIDS social work in hospitals: A daring response to an epidemic in Response to the AIDS epidemic: Metropolitan New York, A. Rice and B. Willinger (Eds.), New York,NY:The Haworth Press