This Public Service Recognition Week 2020, join ASPA as we proudly honor public servants on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19. Please take a few minutes to read the words of Ronda Butler Washington, as she prepares for the challenges she and other health care administrators will lead us through over the months and years ahead.

I like to say I was "raised" by corporate America. The early part of my career was spent working for Fortune 500 companies. For more than five years, I have been executive director of the Maryland State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators, and prior to joining the State of Maryland, I worked for the Federal Judiciary in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland. I learned about ASPA while working on my MPA degree at the University of Baltimore and I have been a member ever since.

To me, whether during Public Service Recognition Week, or year-round, public service has always been about making a lasting difference. This is my heart and life's calling: To take care of others and do something worthwhile and meaningful for this world. Government work is my way of making sure that I am contributing to the health and well-being of others on a large scale and not just making money for a big company. I also have twin 17-year-old boys and I am about to be re-married; my fiance is my soul mate and I am excited about the future, in spite of the coronavirus.

Over the last two months, as COVID-19 has spread, I have witnessed an overwhelming sense of unity and purpose-driven responsiveness from the nursing home administrator community in Maryland. The virus is horrific, and our nation is in a very grave situation, but it is clearly one that helps set the stage for innovation. It provides us with an opportunity to put true public service to work and gives us a chance to enable the great thinkers and collaborators in our profession to join together and create new ideas, solutions and workarounds that will ease the burdens that this pandemic has placed on our nation's citizens.

This is our chance to come out of this crisis better and wiser, to effectively and proactively move forward. It is up to public administrators to look at all of the areas where services, programs, resources and necessary structures were not in place and make systemic changes, so we won't be in the same situation in the future. I personally work on this by staying in contact with my licensee community, in conjunction with the Maryland Office of Healthcare Quality and the Maryland Department of Health, to support their efforts. I am very proud of my Board Members, my staff and my colleagues (who are executive directors of other health occupations boards).

We also are looking to learn lessons and find out how we can better prepare for our future and forward our mission of public protection. I have become a cheerleader for all of our facilities and their respective staff teams, nationwide. Our nursing teams are unsung heroes and should be recognized more. The stress they are under is unimaginable and what they are enduring every day is unimaginable.

Where does ASPA fit in? It is vital to the longevity and cohesion of our field. It is a productive, prolific organization that brings us all together to share ideas, innovations and strategic plans for the ultimate goal of serving the public with excellence.

I hope you will consider supporting ASPA during these challenging times. We need you now more than ever because we need ASPA now more than ever.