2015 Summer Student Scholars

Alicia Cowles    

  • School: Ohio University
  • Internship Experience: Hickory Creek of Athens
  • Hometown: Cardington

Sunaina Rana

  • School: Miami University
  • Internship Experience: Liberty Nursing Center
  • Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal

Hannah Thompson        

  • School: Miami University
  • Internship Experience: Butler County Probate Court (Guardianship Program)
  • Hometown: North Canton

Michael T. Vale               

  • School: University of Akron
  • Internship Experience: Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging
  • Hometown: Fairport Harbor

Dorothy Young                

  • School: Wittenberg University
  • Internship Experience: Sinclair Community College – SEEK Conference (Sharing Education, Experience, Knowledge)

Nicole Yozwiak

  • School: University of Youngstown
  • Internship Experience: Briarfield/Brookdale Senior Living
  • Hometown: Canfield

Matthew Bezold             

  • School: The Ohio State University
  • Internship Experience: Ohio Department of Aging
  • Hometown: Columbus

Experience Papers, Summer 2015 Ohio Scholars in Aging Program

Alicia Cowles, Ohio University

I completed my practicum at Hickory Creek of Athens. Hickory Creek is a long-term care facility located in The Plains, Ohio. It is a 170-bed facility and has a secured Alzheimer’s unit. The facility offers skilled services such as speech, physical, and occupational therapy. My main goal during the practicum was to understand the role of an administrator in a long-term care facility. I wanted to see how each member of the different departments would collaborate and work towards a common goal, “Making a Difference…One Resident at a Time”.  I was able to observe each department and work hands on to understand the role of every individual. Not only did I work with the administrator, but the housekeeping, laundry, and dietary department. Being a practicum student at a nursing facility required me to step out of my shell and become more assertive. I am now able to address residents, family members, and coworkers with confidence.

During my practicum I worked on a variety of projects focusing on quality assurance in the dietary and nursing departments while also helping the administrator. I examined weight loss in every resident over a period of six months to see if any residents had a weight loss between a one month period that was 5% or greater. After examining 100 residents, 20 had at least a 5% weight loss. I learned how it was important to monitor resident weight loss because it could indicate that something is wrong with a resident’s health. In addition to my weight loss project I assisted in dining room audits examining the environment the meals were served in, the dignity of the residents, and the proper food handling of the staff.

With the administrator I was also exposed to specific incident, sexual misconduct, and abuse reports. I helped interview staff, residents, and witnesses to specific situations.  This was a personal obstacle because performing investigations was not something I was expecting or comfortable handling. With the help of the administrator I gained more confidence in speaking to residents and staff appropriately about the situations to collect statements. When I first began my field experience I had no idea that this would be a task that administrators would have to work on. Though the reasoning for the investigations are unpleasant, I am thankful for the experience I have gained in interviewing residents and staff for this necessary task if I am to become an administrator.

The most beneficial task I helped with was performing Manager Rounds. I assisted a management team to check each resident room for safety purposes and to make sure each individual is being cared for properly. I would also examine facial hair, nail care, and the resident’s general appearance. While this was being done the management team would also examine care plans to make sure all interventions were in place. It was good to see that after a few weeks of the management team helping with room checks how much better the facility was due to management helping provide quality, person first centered care.

The Ohio Scholars in Aging Program allowed me to enhance my practicum experience by surrounding me with peers who have similar interests in studying aging. It was great to get different opinions and have conversations about similar experiences during my practicum. I was exposed to new knowledge about programs offered to facilities such as the Opening Minds Through Art and the Music and Memory programs, while also being able to have conversations with the Ohio Department of Aging staff.  I am now more aware of how the Ohio Department of Aging is involved with long-term care facilities and the relationships that one could have in the future to better assist residents. I am now confident and motivated to continue in a career focused on helping older adults due to the strong prevalence of aging and the multiple struggles the older population faces. Aging is something that everyone should care about, and I cannot wait to continue in this growing field.

Sunaina Rana, Miami University

I interned in Liberty Nursing Center (LNC) which is situated at Oxford, Ohio; one of the seventeen nursing centers under Liberty Nursing Centers. I spent 10 weeks of my summer vacation in the nursing home and it still feels there is more to learn from there. Although the residents ranged from age of 34 to 95, I focused on the senior citizens (60 years and above) as per my academic interest.

Amongst many other institutions, I chose to obtain practical experience from the nursing home for mostly two reasons; to observe the holistic approach taken by the Liberty Nursing Center to cater to the needs of senior citizens, and to see how much a policy for senior citizen affected them in macro level and what policy would be needed to support senior citizen. Acknowledging the same, I am thankful to the management team of LNC in providing me an opportunity to explore every department of the nursing home.

Despite having few years of experience working in the hospitals in Nepal, and often taking care of the older adults, the services provided at LNC was beyond my imagination. The management cared to listen to the feedbacks from the residents to keep improving the services and also make them feel the ownership towards the institution. Being exposed to the diverse activities and facilities provided in the nursing home, I felt that the residents in my country are utterly underserved. The rigorousness in managing a nursing center and old age homes is my biggest take-away from the internship.

I switched myself observing and supporting various departments; dietary, business office, activity, therapy and memory unit as per the need. I was able to practice the communication skills learnt during my graduate assistantship projects in supporting therapists in risk management and developed care plan with the therapist for the residents of special cases. I had an amazing experience meeting individual residents, one on one basis. Talking with the residents, listening to their experiences, observing their daily routines, and taking them on a walk provided me a chance to understand how much a personal touch in the life matters as one starts to get older.

I transitioned to administrative section to learn and support in conducting meetings with staffs, residents and families. Similarly, I assisted in reviewing the schedules of patients and planned for the care visits. I conducted ‘abaqis’ interviews, a tool for quality assessment of nursing homes. I felt trusted to be allowed to interact with the representative from Ohio Department of Health, which helped me to see the nursing home from the eye of a state.

Apart from being left on my own to engage myself to broaden my learning in the absence of the supervisor, the experience in Liberty Nursing Home has been really enriching. It felt as if all the courses we studied in a year unveiled in mere 10 weeks of my internship.

I would like to thank Ohio Scholars in Aging Program – Summer, 2015 and Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) for providing a wonderful platform to expand our networking with ODA staffs and the interns with same interest but with different experiences. I feel fortunate to share and acquire knowledge related to aging and at the same time different ways to serve the older adults. I look forward to meeting and learning from this cohort in the future too.

Hannah Thompson, Miami University

My summer practicum placement was at Butler County Probate Court stationed in Hamilton, Ohio. I worked with Judge Rogers and Rebecca DeLong, LSW, MSW on various projects and shadowing experiences.  My primary focus was with the Guardianship program, but I was also exposed to multiple opportunities within Probate Court and the community.

In June 2015, new Ohio Guardianship law went into effect, causing the court to make adaptations to local rule and the Butler County guardianship process.  My first project was to help with the creation of an updated training manual for “layperson” and volunteer guardians in the county.  New requirements for the court and guardians were incorporated into the manual, which will be disseminated at upcoming educational events hosted by Probate Court.  My main task was to relay information regarding the guardianship process from the Ohio Revised Code, Rules of Superintendence, and Butler County Local Rule.  (Some changes to the guardianship process include continuing education requirements, an emergency guardianship process, and a complaint filing process.)  Also included were sections on community resources that guardians may use to connect their individuals with services concerning higher quality of life.   This project was a great way to familiarize myself with guardianship law and how it is executed at local probate court and beyond.

Involvement in the “Guardianship Connection Program” was my second project, which allowed me to meet with various guardians and “individuals under guardianship” in Butler County.  Probate Court is looking to make connections with whom they serve and make sure “individuals under guardianship” are getting the best care possible.  By making these visits, we can ensure that guardians are getting the resources they need to continue advocating for their individual’s best interests.  These visits exposed me to multiple populations served through the guardianship process in the county including aging, mental health, developmental disabilities, drug/alcohol, and brain injury individuals.  This was the most rewarding part of my summer experience, as I met some truly inspiring individuals.  The relationship between guardians and their individuals span from family members to volunteers that wish to make a difference in a person’s life.  I learned how valuable these connections are between the probate court and the guardians/individuals in the county.  They provide an outlet not only for educating guardians, but making a face-to-face effort to truly get to know whom Butler County is serving in this program.

My opportunities with Butler County Probate Court and the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program provided a great blending of exposure to both local and state level agencies and aging related resources.  Learning about community resources and its connection to state level agencies and policy was exactly what I wanted out of my experience this summer. It was also very insightful to learn from other Gerontology students about their experiences and learn from ODA staff.  Learning from others about their impact on the aging population is what makes the OAGE program so important to the future of a student, like me.  Thank you for this opportunity to participate this summer!

Michael T. Vale, University of Akron

Throughout the course of the summer, I have had the pleasure working alongside the Ombudsman at Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities as their Music and Memory Ombudsman Intern. Ombudsman are advocates for residents in long-term care facilities. They are known for protecting and ensuring resident rights in addition to resolving complaint issues. Although, I was trained in the aforementioned skills, I worked more specifically with the Music and Memory program at several long-term care facilities that the Ombudsman oversee and fund. Music and Memory is a program which targets improving the quality of life and memory of those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. This is done by distributing individuals with music players, like iPods, that have specific playlists that are tailored to that individual. Overall, the program is a pleasurable person-centered activity for those in long-term care, and it also reminds family, friends and caretakers of individuals with memory deficiencies of what their loved ones can remember, rather than focusing on any losses.

The State Ombudsman in the Ohio Department of Aging covers the cost the program in 250 different facilities across the State of Ohio. The Ombudsman at Direction Home monitors seventeen different facilities with a total of 84 participants across Summit, Portage, Stark and Wayne counties. My personal responsibilities were to visit each facility and make sure that the program was being implanted and managed appropriately, as well to ascertain the completion of a client and family survey for every participant. In these responsibilities, I met with all 84 Music and Memory participants and completed all of their survey forms. This allowed me to visit, explore and compare several different types of long-term care facilities and methods of care. Each facility worked at a different pace in their implementation of the program, which allowed me to observe the full developmental process of the program. Every facility also had their own creative aspect about their specific program, which illustrates the remarkable utility of the Music and Memory program. Additionally, I also attempted to contact a family member for every participant either through the mail or phone. Attempting to accommodate a variety of schedules was challenging at times, but most family members response to the program was positive and well worth any hassle.

Without any doubt, the most rewarding, appealing and paramount component of my practicum experience was getting to interact with the participants and host several discussions about music. I have had the pleasure to watch some residents listen to their playlist and transcend the barriers their dementias create. I have since learned that music shortens the distance between any two people, and that the topic alone can facilitate conversation with practically everyone. Most all the residents had incredibly positive experiences with the program, and would light up just when asked if they simply liked music. Getting a chance to become an advocate of the Music and Memory project has allowed me to connect with a group of people whose abilities are often overlooked which has been invaluable.

Dorothy Young, Wittenberg University

My internship afforded me a different view, a behind the scenes out of committee view, of an organization I have been a part of for the past three years as a volunteer, the College for Lifelong Learning’s SEEK Conference at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. The SEEK Conference is a day of learning built around interests of people aged sixty and over. This year marked the 13th anniversary of the program. The day starts out with a special motivational speaker followed by two 40 minute breakout sessions that include seven learning opportunities, then lunch, followed by two more 40 minute breakout sessions, and finally another special speaker to close the learning day.

Participants pay $5 for the day made possible through sponsorships garnered from area businesses, agencies, or individuals. Asking for financial support was a big challenge for me – I was only able to get one agency sponsorship and more would have been appreciated. One of the favorite parts of the day for participants is the door prize drawings done at lunch and at the end of the day, the prizes are donated by area businesses. The best thing about the conference to me, it enabled nearly 400 participants to continue in a culture of lifelong learning, either for the day or maybe for the rest of their life.

I thought the internship was just going to be more of what I had done in the past as a volunteer, but quickly realized there was much more in store. The saying trial by fire is very fitting for my time. Much of my time was spent alone in the office calling and registering participants, speaking with presenters getting descriptions of the presentation and the speaker bios for their introduction in their breakout session, as well as contacting sponsors. The challenge was being able to get that work done while our students came in person to register for the conference or handle other class issues (which I did not have clearance to do) so at times I met with vented frustration from our clients. That was difficult because all I wanted to do was help them figure things out, even if it had nothing to do with SEEK.

The rest of my time was spent organizing seventeen Sociology students to prepare goodie bags for the participants, and work throughout the day as hosts/hostesses – service learning that was counted toward their final grade for the semester. I believe the agency wanted to give me an opportunity to network and have another set of trusted hands to organize the day.

I have enjoyed this opportunity immensely. I have learned to embrace networking even at the ripe old age of 49. I have been reminded once again how vital team work is in an organization, as was mentioned in each of the scholar’s presentations. None of us could accomplish the tasks set before us without the help of another, which is personified in the partnership between the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education for the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program.

Nicole Yozwiak, University of Youngstown

My internship consisted of shadowing different departments at Briarfield, which provides rehabilitation, elder care, and senior living.  Throughout this experience, I worked with human resources, their corporate billing office, and social services.  I experienced the importance of collaborating between the departments in order to achieve one goal: providing the best care to each individual resident.

On the other hand, I am currently employed at one of Brookdale Senior Living’s communities as the administrative assistant at an assisted living community. Without this job opportunity, I would have never been able to learn everything that I know today.   Throughout this experience, I have learned the importance of teamwork and how everyone’s job is an essential part of operating a senior living community.  Also, no matter how long you work in the senior population, there will always be something new to learn and take away from the elderly.

I enjoyed having both experiences and being able to compare not only how a locally owned senior living facility runs vs. a corporation, but also witness a larger facility with skilled care vs. a smaller community while only provides assisted living care.  I also gained experience in Medicaid and speaking with different insurance companies.  It is not always easy working with outside companies, but that is an essential part of operating a successful business.

One of my big take-away points from being a part of the Ohio Department of Aging Scholars program would have to be gaining an understanding of what programs the state provides for the elderly.  There are many great programs that are taking place in Ohio and being able to meet and speak with these individuals helped bring everything into perspective.  I have learned how the state provides to each county and ideas to bring back home and implement in the senior living communities.

Matthew Bezold, The Ohio State University

Hi, I am Matthew Bezold. My internship is with the monitoring team of the fiscal division within the Ohio Department of Aging. As part of my internship, I helped out the fiscal monitoring team complete their day to day duties and get caught back up on the monitoring calendar. This involves monitoring the AAAs. AAAs (or area agencies on aging) are the entities that administer services and programs for Ohio’s older population. Our function is to serve as assurance that the monies these agencies receive are being spent properly.

The Ohio Department of Aging was interested in having me work on this project because it is a normal part of day to day operations. In addition to giving me experience as an auditor, this internship served a unique purpose in that I was able to help out the agency because I was able to work on a job that a full-time employee would work on without all of the additional complications that come with hiring a full-time employee.

My project changed throughout the course of my internship from me learning the rules and regulations of government accounting to me actually applying these rules and regulations and making sure that the AAAs are following them. A few obstacles I faced while working on the project were the length of time that it takes for an AAA to get back to you with a response when you have a question. Also, on a more personal note, I struggled at times with time management. As this is a non-traditional internship that continues through the school year, I have to work to balance my time between work and school.

As part of this internship, I also had the opportunity to get out of the office and travel with the monitoring team to the AAA sites. This is truly a great experience because it’s always nice to get out of the office once in a while. But it’s also nice to get to talk face to face with the people you email daily. As part of this internship, I learned what all is involved in audit and some of the differences between government and corporate auditing. This knowledge is truly helpful and will help me make decisions about which career path I should choose.

Jennifer Bechtel serves as the Program Manager for the Ohio State University College of Medicine’s Office of Geriatrics and Gerontology.

She has worked in the field of aging services for over 17 years helping to provide professional development and resource connection to aging services providers and caregivers across Ohio. She earned her certificate of specialization in grief recovery and is passionate about using bibliotherapy principles as conversation starters with individuals, families and professionals to bridge the gap in healing.

Cheryl Conley, MA, LSW, is the director of social services at MemoryLane Care Services in Toledo. MemoryLane provides adult day services and wrap-around services, such as dementia care coaching, counseling, community and caregiver education, and social programs.

Cheryl is a licensed social worker and has worked in the field of aging for more than 35 years. She earned a Masters in Counseling and a Graduate Certificate in Aging from Bowling Green State University. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Lourdes College with majors in Gerontology, Art, and Psychology. Cheryl coordinated the Geriatric Education Center at Bowling Green State University and was on the part-time and full time faculty at BGSU in Gerontology, with part time appointments in Biological Sciences, and Family Sciences. Cheryl has also worked as social services director for Wood County Committee on Aging and as program director for the Alzheimer’s Association before joining MemoryLane Care Services.

Christine Raber, PhD, OTR/L, is a Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio.

In addition to teaching gerontology and research content within occupational therapy graduate programs, she has served in various leadership roles in her 28 years at SSU including interim program director (occupational therapy), interim Associate Provost, and Provost Fellow. Effective July 1, 2023, she will serve as the interim Dean of the College of Professional Studies at SSU. Her clinical and research activities focus on the facilitation of positive engagement in daily life for older adults, particularly those living with dementia.

Cheryl Kanetsky has 31 years of experience working with older adults in various community-based and care settings.

She has been with the Alzheimer’s Association since 1999 and is currently the Director of Operations & Grant Administration for the state of Ohio. Cheryl is responsible for a growing portfolio of grant revenue in support of the programs and services of the Alzheimer’s Association chapters across the state. She works closely with the Director of State Public Policy on special projects that strive to improve the lives of those living with Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias, and their care partners across the state. Cheryl is a licensed social worker and holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Tiffin University.

Donna Alexander, LNHA, MBA, CDP

As the Long-Term Care Administration (LTCA) Program Coordinator, I teach courses in the nationally accredited Nursing Home Administration program at both Kent State University and Kent State at Stark. My role also involves coordinating the internship class, placing students in a two-semester 1,000-clock hour internship, preparing students for the national and state examinations, maintaining the LTCA program’s national accreditation, advising, as well as administrative duties as a Program Coordinator at the University. Upon appointment to the Ohio Board of Executives of Long-Term Services & Supports (NHA license board - BELTSS), I serve as the Academic representative in the State of Ohio, and I chair the Continuing Education Committee. Appointments as the Convener of the Academic Forum and voting member on the Education Committee with NAB (National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards) provides Kent State University and the State of Ohio with representation on the national level. Upon graduating from Kent State University's Gerontology/Nursing Home Administration program, passing the Social Work exam and passing both the NHA national and NHA state nursing home administration examinations, I began working for a national chain of Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities.

During my career as a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator (LNHA) I successfully operated senior living facilities both nonprofit and for-profit organizations, ranging in size from 25 beds to 250 beds including board and care homes, assisted living, independent living, subacute and skilled nursing facilities. Having held as many as five different state licenses for Nursing Home Administration (NHA), I have operated facilities throughout Ohio, in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska. My roles as a Regional Director of Operations and Vice President of Operations led me to pursuing a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). My academic career started at Stark State College in 2008 managing a Department of Labor (DOL) grant in the Health and Human Services (HHS) Division. At the conclusion of the DOL grant, the HHS Division Dean retired, and I was appointed the Interim Dean for a year and a half. As a NAB accredited Site Visitor, I utilize my knowledge of current state and national trends in Long Term Care. In 2016 I earned my Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) certificate and we have added this certificate training to the LTCA program. Graduates of the program now earn their CDP during their internship.

Dr. Tina L. Dothard Peterson is a tenured Associate Professor and the Director of the Aging Education Initiative in the School of Social Work in the College of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Cincinnati.

Her research expertise focuses on the intersection between aging, intergenerational caregiving, and health inequities. She has developed three primary research studies: Needs Assessment of Schools Serving Rural Custodial Grandparents in South Central Kentucky, Caregiving in Later Life by Grandparents Raising Older Grandchildren, and Self-management of Hypertension in African American Women Family Caregivers. As an alum of two doctoral fellowship programs, the Southern Regional Education Board’s Doctoral Scholar Program (2005-2010) and the Council on Social Work Education’s SAMHSA Minority Fellow Program (2008-2010), she is committed to mentoring learners, junior faculty, and others involved in interprofessional education. She has taught a range of undergraduate and graduate social work courses.

Jennifer Wagner received her Certification as a Health Services Executive (HSE) in 2018 and as a Certified Executive of Assisted Living (CEAL) in 2017. Jennifer has been a licensed Nursing Home Administrator in the state of Ohio since 1996, a Certified Long Term Care Ombudsman Associate since 2005, a Medicare Counselor with the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program since 2013, and Director of the Optimal Aging Institute at BGSU.

Jennifer has spent the last twenty years at BGSU as a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, master of all paperwork. She began as administrative staff overseeing the Geriatric Education Center (GEC) and added in adjunct teaching responsibilities. When the GEC grant ended, she became the continuing education coordinator for the College along with adjunct teaching responsibilities. Currently, Jennifer is an Associate Practitioner Professor who teaches undergrad and graduate courses in gerontology. Jennifer oversees the student internships and is the liaison with the state and national licensure boards for long-term care administration.

Jennifer serves as a member of the National Association of Long-Term Care Administrators Boards (NAB). As a member of the NAB, Jennifer has been an item writer for the federal nursing home administrator licensure exam, is a continuing education program reviewer, academic accreditation site reviewer, and member of the education committee.

Prior to joining BGSU, Jennifer held positions as a nursing home administrator in hospital based and free-standing nursing homes and as the executive director of a multi-purpose senior center.

Patrick Mese is currently a master's student in Gerontological Studies at Miami University, Oxford.

He earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He worked with vulnerable groups as a professional social worker in areas of health and social welfare in Nigeria. His interests in the field of gerontology as a young researcher are in Aging Policy, Dementia, Caregiving, Technology, Health, and Social Care access in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I am an Assistant Professor of Social Work at The Ohio State University. I am committed to understanding the strengths and challenges of grandfamilies in order to create and deliver interventions that encourage self-care, communication, and empowerment.

My research focuses on building resilience in grandfamilies. I have worked with grandfamilies for over 13 years through community service and research. In this time, I have studied influences of culture on the experiences of grandparents; the relation between grandparents & social network and their resilience; I have conducted an environmental scan; helped create, implement, and evaluate the GRANDcares Project (GC) and expanded the GC intervention, which is currently being implemented in Franklin County, OH. The GC is a strengths-based intervention designed to provide education, support, and mentorship to grandfamilies and service providers. It includes three components; a grandparent caregiver component, a youth component for children who are being raised by grandparents and are between the ages of 9-12, and webinars for service providers. The expanded GC program is called GRANDcares Plus (GC+) and includes the original GC curriculum plus two educational workshops. The workshops provide educational information to grandfamilies (both grandparents and grandchildren) about opioids and trauma. These workshops were incorporated into the intervention to meet the specific preferences of grandfamilies in central Ohio. The current project builds logically on to this work. In addition to intervention research, I have built strong relationships with many community members (i.e., grandparents raising grandchildren and service providers).

Ken Wilson has 30 years of experience working in senior services. He has worked at Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio since 1994 where he is Vice President of Program and Business Operations.

He is responsible for a $102 Million budget delivering an array of services to over 30,000 seniors that enable them to remain independent at home. He administers 4 senior service levy programs, and has led more than 15 successful campaigns to raise local funding for home and community based services. Ken works with regional health systems to support smooth and safe transitions of care from hospital and nursing home back to home. Ken is experienced with public policy advocacy work at the local, State and Federal levels. He is an adjunct instructor at Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center. He volunteers his time for a variety of community organizations including as Board member for the Hamilton County Board of Developmental Disability Services, and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education.

He received his Masters degree in Gerontological Studies from the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University. Ken is a recipient of the W. Fred Cottrell Distinguished Alumni Award from the Miami University Scripps Gerontology Center.

Harvey L. Sterns, PhD, Serves as Chair City of Akron Commission on Aging and Co-Chair of Age Friendly Akron/Summit County.

He was in the Transition After Retirement Program, and is professor emeritus of psychology and director emeritus and life fellow of the Institute for Life-Span Development and Gerontology at The University of Akron. He is research professor of gerontology in Family and Community Medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University. He has been a faculty member in both the Psychology of Adult Development and Aging and Industrial/Organizational Psychology graduate programs, and chaired the specialization in Industrial Gerontological Psychology.

He has published extensively on cognitive intervention, work and retirement, career development, training and retraining, and self-management of career and retirement. He is a licensed psychologist in Ohio and is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. He has served as president of Division 20 Adult Development and Aging of the American Psychological Association, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, and Sigma Phi Omega National Academic and Professional Society in Gerontology. He is a past board of trustees member of the American Society on Aging. Sterns was inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in 2014. He is the author of over 120 journal articles and book chapters.

Vivian J. Miller, PhD, MSSA, LSW is an Associate Professor in Social Work, Bowling Green State University and Licensed Social Worker (LSW).

Vivian has practice experience working with older adults across the care continuum. Vivian’s research extrapolates on her practice experience with a focus in gerontology and social work across three areas:  (1) various factors that facilitate social connection among older adults, such as technology and transportation, (2) social work and social policy to promote the well-being of vulnerable, marginalized older adults (e.g., residents of nursing homes, caregivers, low-income older adults, racially and ethnically diverse older adults), and (3) gerontological- social work education.

Jennifer Westfall, Aging and Disability Director for Buckeye Hills Regional Council (BHRC), a designated Area Agency on Aging for Region 8 in southeast Ohio, is a graduate of Ohio University with a Bachelor's in Community Health and holds a Master's in Public Health from Southern New Hampshire University.

Through its home and community-based programs, BHRC's division of Aging serves more than 5,000 older southeast Ohioans annually.  Jennifer serves on the board of the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education as a representative of rural Ohio and serves as Secretary on the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging Executive Board. In her role at Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Jennifer advocates for legislation and home and community-based services that support the well-being of individuals in Southeast Ohio. Jennifer resides in Marietta with her husband Brian and son Camden.

Jennifer Carlson serves as the Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Aging.

In this role, she drives the development of innovative policy and programs to improve the health, wellness, and safety of older Ohioans. Carlson also serves as chief advisor to the department's director, Ursel J. McElroy. A graduate of The Ohio State University, Carlson has over 30 years of experience in government relations, health policy development and advocacy for Ohioans.

Marc Molea retired from the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) in 2019.

At ODA he served as Chief of the Older Americans Act Programs and Strategic Partnerships Divisions for 24 years. Prior to coming to ODA, he held various planning and economic development positions in Ohio.

Currently he serves on various the boards, councils and committees, including Board Chair for Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate, Advisory Committee Member for National Center for Vision and Population Health, Dean’s Advisory Committee for Ohio University College of Health Sciences and Profession, and Emeritus Board Member for Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education.

He has Bachelors of Business Administration and Masters of Health Administration from Ohio University, and a Masters of City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

He is recipient of the Soar Award, VANTAGE Aging (2019); Lifetime Achievement Award, Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education (2018); Charles B. Jenkins Legacy Award, Employment for Seniors (2017); and Muriel Bertsch Award, Ohio Association of Senior Centers (2013). He was an Ohio delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

Raymond C. Matura, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, University of Rio Grande and Board Emeritus of OAGE.

Doctorate from University of Florida. One of two remaining Board members who were founders, with Dr. Harvey L. Sterns, of OAGE predecessor organization ONECA. Research interests are: Gerontological Policy, Political Gerontology, Family Issues, and History of the Field. Former office holder in OAGE and ONECA.

Morgan Minyo is a PhD candidate in Adult Development and Aging at Cleveland State University.

Morgan’s research focuses on understanding and identifying unmet needs and support services for vulnerable aging populations as well as the development and testing of evidence-based programs. Along with her position as a PhD candidate, Morgan is a Research Analyst and Applied Aging Research Fellow in the Center for Research and Education at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging.

Amanda MacNeil is a 5th year Ph.D. Candidate in Adult Development and Aging at Cleveland State University.

Amanda's research focuses on the connection between various aspects of the illness experience of dementia and well-being outcomes to bolster the ability to live well. Through teaching, research, and advocacy, Amanda is passionate about serving the community of older adults and their caregivers.

Dabney K. Conwell is the Vice President and Executive Director of Rose Centers for Aging Well at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging.

She is responsible for the oversight of all nutrition and socialization programs within seven senior centers and four home delivered meals programs. To address food insecurity and social isolation amongst older adults living with chronic diseases Ms. Conwell designed Cuyahoga County’s first medically tailored meals program.

Dr. Van Dussen holds a master's degree in sociology with a focus on aging and medical sociology from the University of Akron.

He also holds a PhD in Gerontology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a focus on health, medical, and policy aspects of gerontology. His research foci include attitudes and knowledge of hospice and end of life care, predictors of recovery from fractures, and aging related work force issues. He is the Frank and "Nugie" DePizzo Endowed Chair of Gerontology and leads the master of health and human services and long-term care administration program at Youngstown State University.

Dr. Victoria Steiner is an Associate Professor in the Public Health and Health Education Programs, as well as the Administrative Director for the Center for Successful Aging, at the University of Toledo.

She did her graduate work in Human Development and Family Studies at the Pennsylvania State University with a focus on adult development and aging. Dr. Steiner is interested in how individuals cope with the challenges they encounter in their lives as they age, including functional decline, chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease and stroke, and caregiving.

Judge Robert N. Rusu, Jr. is the 20th Probate Judge of Mahoning County.

He was appointed as the Mahoning County Probate Judge by Governor Kasich on July 8, 2014 and won election to the bench in the November 2014 general election. Judge Rusu brings more than 27 years of Probate experience to the bench. Prior to becoming the judge, he practiced exclusively in the area of Probate Administrations, Guardianships, Estate Planning, Medicaid, and issues regarding aging.

Judge Rusu is very active in his community. Judge Rusu has served on the “Alzheimer’s Assistance and Referral Network”, the “Mahoning Valley Campfire Council” and past president of the “Canfield Baseball Club” and in 2018 was awarded the “Practitioner of the Year Award” by the Ohio Association of Gerontology & Education. In addition, Judge Rusu is also active as an executive officer with the Ohio Probate Judges Association.

Meredith Pitt is an assistant professor at The University of Findlay, teaching all courses within the gerontology minor/certificate program.

Meredith is a licensed social worker in the state of Ohio, focusing her attention on the field of behavioral health. Meredith has three children, is married to her husband, Patrick, and lives in Findlay, Ohio with her two corgis and chihuahua.

Richard Meeker MSW, LISW-S is currently employed at Area Agency on Aging as a Community Living Supervisor where he supervises the Adult Protective Services program.

He also works part time in private practice in partnership with Mindful Life in Action as a Mental Health Therapist. Richard earned a Masters Degree in Social Work at the University of Akron and earned a Bachelors Degree of Science from Ashland University.

Chih-ling (Ling) Liou is an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University.

Dr. Liou’s research interests are aligned with two primary lines of inquiry: (1) community services for older adults and (2) aging attitudes among college students. She has been conducting and publishing research related to adult day service (ADS), one of the community-based services for people with dementia. In addition to ADS, she is interested in understanding college students’ attitudes on aging in order to attract and equip them to serve the growing population of aged individuals.

Jessica Krok-Schoen is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Sciences, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at The Ohio State University's College of Medicine.

Dr. Krok-Schoen's research focuses on geriatric oncology, cancer survivorship, symptom management, and behavioral interventions among diverse, older adults. She has been a proud member of OAGE since 2017.

Dr. Katherine S. Judge is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Adult Development and Aging Doctoral Program in the Psychology Department at Cleveland State University.

She also is an Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Education and Research at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging. Dr. Judge's program of research focuses on: understanding the illness experience associated with cognitive impairment; developing, implementing, and testing non-pharmacological interventions for individuals with dementia, stroke, and traumatic brain injury and their caregivers; and translating evidence-based intervention and research protocols to fit within existing health care and social service organizations. Dr. Judge teaches a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses, including Introduction to Psychology, Memory and Cognition, Health Psychology, Mental Health and Aging, Dementia and Caregiving, and Psychology of Aging.

Shannon E. Jarrott, Ph.D. is a professor of social work at The Ohio State University.

She specializes in community-based services, therapeutic programming, and research strategies involving older adults with diverse abilities. Current research focuses on intergenerational community building strategies, for which she has received federal funding.

Since 2016, Salli has been the Executive Director of MemoryLane Care Services, a non-profit organization providing respite and supportive services to families caregiving for older adults and individuals living with memory impairment.

Salli holds a master’s degree in Social Work and a Certificate in Aging from the University of Michigan and bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Toledo. She has practiced as a social worker in long term care, hospital, mental health and community- based settings. Salli has experience delivering respite care services, implementing and evaluating evidence-based programs, serving in leadership roles in non-profit organizations and as an advocate for caregivers and older adults. She has attended ASA previously.

As Chief Executive Officer of Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (WRAAA), Dr. E. Douglas Beach has empirical leadership experience and expertise at the federal, state, and local levels.

Nurtured in an agrarian environment it naturally followed Dr. Beach would pursue a doctorate in agricultural economics. From North Carolina State University’s campus culture, Dr. Beach returned to Ohio to care for his ailing father; a situation that elicited a newfound passion in a curiously, opposite career discipline: the senior population.

Dr. Beach had years’ experience advocating for seniors as Ohio Department of Aging's Deputy Director of Programs, when Congressman David L. Hobson (R-OH) engaged him as staff economist to draft major, long-term care insurance legislation. In September of 1999 Dr. Beach became CEO of the Senior Resource Alliance, Florida's most prominent and industrious area agency on aging, prospering the Orlando-based organization's budget from $16 to $25 million. The Senior Resource Alliance became Florida's first Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) and was simultaneously honored as one of the nation's top 10 Information & Referral Systems (IR&S). Opportunity knocked on the door in February 2007 when Governor Charlie Crist tapped Dr. Beach to be Secretary of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. Although rough economic times ensued, the Department's budget matched in equal measure to meet Florida senior citizens community and healthcare needs.

In June 2021 Dr. Beach took the helm of Florida’s premier aging provider, the Council on Aging of Volusia County (COA), providing its consumers with traditional Older Americans Act (OAA) services while emphasizing private pay and in-home Medicare services. The Fall of 2014 rounded this illustrious, performance history with CEO acceptance to Ohio’s WRAAA, largest of the state’s 12 area agencies on aging. Dr. Beach’s incisive business acumen, extensive leadership, and in-grained respect for older adults attest to WRAAA’s transformation of an agency on the edge to Ohio’s largest, minority-dominated Area Agency on Aging.

Tiffany F. Hughes, PhD, MPH is Associate Professor at Youngstown State University.

She enjoys teaching and researching ways that older adults can maintain brain health and well-being through an active and engaged lifestyle. In addition, she is interested in intergenerational programs that can increase college student interest in working with the aging population. Her work is funded and supported by academic/NIA and community collaborations.

Joseph Rossi has been Chief Executive Officer of Direction Home of Eastern Ohio, Inc. (DHEO) serving Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning, and Trumbull County since 2010.

Mr. Rossi holds a bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University and a master’s degree from The Ohio State University. Mr. Rossi lives in Salem, Ohio with his wife Susan and daughter, Alexis. His wife Susan has a PhD in Higher Education Administration and is an Assistant Dean at Kent State University (Columbiana County). His daughter, Alexis is a junior at Loyola University Chicago studying Biology/Pre-Med.

Jennifer Kinney, PhD, is a Professor of Gerontology in the Department of Sociology and Gerontology and a Research Fellow with the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University.

Her primary research interests are gerontological pedagogy and how to foster quality of life among people living with dementia. She has taught undergraduate and graduate gerontology courses for over 30 years. Recent course offerings include perspectives in gerontology and a course on gerontological writing for masters and doctoral students.

Kate de Medeiros, PhD., is the O'Toole Family Professor of Gerontology at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

She is the author or co-author of over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, four books, and numerous book chapters. She has over 20 years of experience in the field of aging with a special focus on the topics of ageism, living alone, and dementia.