Clay Cope, the former Sherman First Selectman, is campaigning for a new cause: terminally ill children and their families.
Cope recently joined Regional Hospice and Palliative Care as the Manager of Donor Engagement and Special Events and is responsible for leveraging donor relationships as well as conveying the importance of the organization through community and corporate advocacy.
The independent, nonprofit hospice organization is the largest provider of pediatric hospice services in Connecticut. This year, to better accommodate its youngest hospice patients and their families, it will become the only hospice provider in the Northeast, and one of only five in the country, to have a purpose-built pediatric hospice unit. Cope is an integral part of development efforts for the agency’s ongoing expansion initiatives, particularly those supporting the pediatric hospice program, as well as the organization’s commitment to offsetting patient financial burdens.
Cope’s transition from local politics to end-of-life care, following a decades-long, international, successful career in high-end fashion design and manufacturing, was motivated by personal experience after the tragic death of his partner, Andres’, newborn niece. Hospitals exist for healing, so where can families turn when the unimaginable happens? Cope knew of only one specialized organization that offered comprehensive pediatric hospice care in a warm, loving and family-friendly environment and indefinite bereavement support: Regional Hospice and Palliative Care. “If I hadn’t gone through it, I honestly might not feel as passionately as I do about pediatric hospice,” he says.
Cope first met Cynthia Emiry Roy, Regional Hospice and Palliative Care’s President and CEO, while he was serving as First Selectman at a community meeting detailing Roy’s plans for the now five-years-old Danbury in-patient, hospice Center. Impressed with Roy’s “humility, example of leadership and high standards” for achieving her vision, Cope joined the organization part-time in 2019 to support efforts for transforming the social landscape and culture of death and, with the pediatrics program, “provide an important service that doesn’t exist anywhere else in our state or region.”
Signing on full-time as an integral part of the development team in May, Cope is “honored to be part of an organization that is committed to providing the best hospice care available led by a creative visionary with leadership in her DNA.” Cope’s business and political acumen will benefit his efforts leveraging relationships and engaging influencers to help accomplish Regional Hospice and Palliative Care’s objectives. Conveying the message of the “important work” done by Regional Hospice and Palliative Care will extend across the state and at the capitol where Cope will inspire legislators to support initiatives like pediatric hospice that will improve end-of-life care statewide.
Cope is particularly passionate about Regional Hospice and Palliative Care’s unique bereavement program which provides indefinite support for patient families and loved ones and is also open to anyone in the community who has suffered a loss, regardless of whether their loved one was cared for by the organization. “Cynthia knew her calling was to build a better hospice to provide the right support for families facing the worst challenge and no one has done it better. To be part of that? I am honored.”
In addition to his responsibilities as Manager of Donor Engagement and Special Events at Regional Hospice and Palliative Care, Cope is the former President of the Sherman Library Board of Trustees and currently sits on the Boards of Matthew 25 and CT Audubon Deer Pond Farm; he and his partner, Andres, live in Sherman, CT. He can be reached at email@example.com.