Michael Wittmann

Michael Wittmann

Michael Wittmann

Youngstown State University


“I have developed a higher level of confidence in my ability as a student and as a professional, and I can’t help but credit my experiences with this program, and day out at the 2017 Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference.”

The research project I worked on this semester was on a little thought of topic, which actually occurs daily in nursing homes across the United States and occurred in front of me exactly a year ago.  My topic ‘Enforced Spousal Separation in Long-Term Care’ looks at the issue of dividing aged couples who live in long-term care for mainly medical reasons, but I have witnessed monetary and policy reasons being the cause on occasion.  I completed the entire project at my internship at Copeland Oaks Continuing Care Retirement Community in Sebring, Ohio, and the administrator and COO were interested to see if the separation did have any effects on the couple.

From the start, I wished to take this project to multiple long-term care facilities, with an emphasis on visiting places that are only single purpose such as only having assisted living or skilled nursing.  Due to constraints on time, this was not able to occur and I had to settle on one location.  I would say that was the main disappointment I had with this project as I actually did not have a tough time finding couples at Copeland Oaks, and not many couples said ‘no’ to participating in the interviews.  Taking this project to more long-term care facilities and interviewing more couples on both sides, along with gaining more recognition are my future hopes for this issue.

The 2017 Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference far exceeded even my highest expectation.  The professionals of the Gerontology field such as Lynn Ridder of the Alzheimer’s Association were incredibly approachable and extremely willing to converse with students such as myself.  Mr. De Medeiros, husband of the 2017 OAGE Educator of the Year was very impressed with my work and encouraged me to attend graduate school at Miami University, which came as quite a welcomed surprise.  Obviously, I have learned quite a bit of field related material over the last year, but I think most importantly I learned to have confidence in myself and to not be afraid to be heard.  I left the conference extremely proud of having persevered through all the difficult days that came with putting the research project together, and receiving reassurance that my concerns were relevant made it all worth it.  I’m not exactly sure how, but I have developed a higher level of confidence in my ability as a student and as a professional, and I can’t help but credit my experiences with this program, and day out at the 2017 Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference.

Emilee Smith

Emilee Smith

Emilee Smith

Shawnee State University


“I strongly encourage those interested in working with this population to participate in this fantastic program to obtain knowledge from various areas of the field.”

It has been an absolute honor being part of the Ohio Scholars in Aging program, and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity. Throughout the program, I have learned a great deal of information regarding the Ohio Department of Aging and the policies and procedures necessary to provide adequate care for the quickly growing older adult population. The program provided me with opportunities to network with policy makers and other professionals in the aging field, deepening my knowledge base and understanding of the many challenges this population faces. It is crucial that our cohort take what we have learned and implement it into our careers and lives to improve quality of care. It was very humbling to have been associated with many peers who share the same passion and understanding of the importance of caring for our growing older adult population.

As a second year Master of Occupational Therapy student at Shawnee State, I was able to provide a unique perspective on older adult care through the eyes of a clinician. Participating in Music and Memory, Senior Home Inspection Program (SHIP), CarFit, Matter of Balance, Dementia Care project, and fieldwork at a skilled nursing facility has ultimately prepared me to provide sufficient occupational therapy care to older adults. My clinical experience has also taught me not only the value of occupational therapy but also the importance of community mobility, fall prevention, home modification, dementia care, and gaining in place in the older adult population. Providing these free and vital services to the community of Southern Ohio has been a gratifying experience that I am very thankful to have been a part of.

I have learned from these clinical experiences and the Ohio Scholars in Aging program that working as a team is essential to facing the many challenges that older adults encounter. This program also provided me with the support and increased knowledge base to ensure that working with older adults is exactly where I see my future career going. I strongly encourage those interested in working with this population to participate in this fantastic program to obtain knowledge from various areas of the field.

Danyelle Roan

Danyelle Roan

Danyelle Roan

Miami University


“I will take the relationships I’ve made as well as the information I’ve acquired and carry them with me throughout my career as a professional in the field of gerontology.”

For my gerontology internship, I was placed at LifeSpan located in Hamilton, Ohio. The project I worked on consisted of developing a business plan and implementation strategy to start an evidence-based self-management support group for elderly African-American women in neighboring communities. My project consisted of conducting a lot of research on the health statuses of African-Americans in the state of Ohio, assessing the need for such a program in the Hamilton area, and compiling a list of local organizations that may be interested in providing services for participants in the program. LifeSpan was interested in having me work on this specific program because I had experience planning and starting organizations at my university. The fact that I am African-American female, was a bonus! I’ve been able to apply my own knowledge of issues minorities face directly to my project. Since I’d never had experience preparing business plans, that is the major challenge I faced. I did not imagine how much time, effort, and research are put into developing a stellar business plan. I would not have made it thus far, without the help of my supervisor, Bill Staler.

Participating in the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program has presented many opportunities that will aid in the successful implementation of this program at LifeSpan. I’ve been able to network with individuals who are experts in their fields. By preparing a business plan for a public health initiative, I learned how much work goes into starting public health programs. From my participation in the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program, I learned the importance of collaboration across disciplines, and have been able to apply what I’ve learned to my project by contacting organizations to establish partnerships with.

Overall, the information I’ve acquired because of my experience in the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program is exceedingly invaluable to me. I will take the relationships I’ve made as well as the information I’ve acquired and carry them with me throughout my career as a professional in the field of gerontology.

I’d like to thank the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education for giving me the opportunity to learn how I can make an impact in the field of gerontology.

Collena “Lena” Rhodes

Collena “Lena” Rhodes

Collena “Lena” Rhodes

Kent State University


“After reflecting on this project, I learned that although the dilemma at hand may seem large and somewhat daunting, by working smarter you can make a difference even with small changes that will make a larger impact.”

As a senior Nursing Home Administration student at Kent State University, I completed my Administrator In Training internship/practicum at Laurel Lake CCRC in Hudson, Ohio. Laurel Lake is an independently owned, not-for-profit campus with a continuum of care including independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing. Laurel Lake sits on a beautiful 150 scenic acre setting and is home to nearly 500 residents. Laurel Lake’s mission is, “Laurel Lake strives to be the community of choice for adults who aspire to lead lives filled with meaning, purpose, and lifelong opportunities for growth and service. Together, the residents and staff of Laurel Lake demonstrate these values every day: Compassion – Our commitment to help others in a spirit of caring, kindness, and understanding; Respect – Our commitment to accept all persons, treating each individual with dignity and consideration; Excellence – Our commitment to strive for the highest quality of service, maintaining integrity in the stewardship of our resources; and, Service – Our commitment to work individually and collectively to best meet the needs of others.” During my time at Laurel Lake, I can truly say that I witnessed this mission in action. The residents are committed to community, collaboration, service, and are lifelong learners and teachers in all subjects imaginable. The hardworking and compassionate staff provides the highest quality of care for the residents who live there, every day. Laurel Lake genuinely exemplifies active retirement living.

At the OAGE Conference, I presented a poster about my internship at Laurel Lake. A large part of this presentation included a QAPI Staffing project that I worked on during my time at Laurel Lake and in conjunction with my KSU practicum curriculum. I found that Laurel Lake, like many other facilities in our area and across the state, faced a staffing hardship in our skilled nursing facility. The goals of my QAPI staffing project were to: (1) Increase from a four star staffing rating to a five star staffing rating by adjusting RN FTE’s on second shift in The Crown Center; (2) Improve staff stability and adequate staffing for residents of The Crown Center by reevaluating recruitment efforts for nursing staff to fill vacancies, reducing agency usage and offering a more competitive wage scale in order to provide continuity of care for residents and promote a person-centered care environment; (3) Reconsider scheduling practices by allowing nursing staff to make their own monthly schedules and limit the amount of PRN staff to more adequately provide consistency of care and proper coverage to The Crown Center.

For the first goal, I worked with my Administrator to calculate our current staffing rating according to the National Star Cut Points for Staffing Measures and Staffing Points and Rating tables. With this, my calculations explained that by simply replacing an LPN Charge Nurse on second shift with an RN Charge Nurse, we moved into the five star rating (from the four star). Next, during my time at Laurel Lake I was able to fill in for our HR Director for a few weeks. Throughout this time, I worked with department managers to keep the new hire process running smoothly and discovered that there was turmoil in the hiring process. For my second goal, I created a new hire spreadsheet where, after my three weeks as acting HR Director, I was able to analyze that a significant amount of our interested applicants did not accept the position due to rate of pay. Additionally, I found that we were not efficiently advertising and distributing our STNA applications that had been submitted through our website, and that there were ways to improve recruiting for open positions. We used a third party for recruitment efforts, and therefore, were somewhat invisible or difficult to find in an Indeed dominated job search world. I also consulted with our Human Resources Director and Director of Healthcare to write a simplified classified ad that would better stand out and attract applicants. Lastly, my third goal was created after finding that a large number of our STNA’s were choosing to go PRN (as needed), so that they would receive a higher rate of pay and have more control over their schedules. We use a monthly paper schedule, and have found difficulty staffing weekends due to PRN employees having the ability to make their own schedules, etc. I proposed that if we pay our full and part-time employees a higher rate, and allow them more control of their schedules by using a “fill-in planning request” schedule, we would be able to better staff to our facility’s needs and maintain continuity of care for our residents while doing so. Additionally, these goals would lower our agency usage which would benefit our organization financially, and as a whole.

After reflecting on this project, I learned that although the dilemma at hand may seem large and somewhat daunting, by working smarter you can make a difference even with small changes that will make a larger impact. Overall, my Ohio Scholars in Aging experience was fantastic. During our meetings in Columbus, we were able to thoroughly understand the divisions of ODA and their processes, programs that are provided and how each of these work together. The speed networking event was my favorite activity, which allowed us to interact with professionals in the field and our fellow Ohio Scholars. We were able to hear many speakers, and we also toured the statehouse. As a young professional, learning the processes and seeing where and how policies are made first-hand, was beneficial. The OAGE Conference was a great experience as well. It was my first time attending OAGE, and I was very impressed with the speakers, as well as with other students’ research presentations. This entire program and attendance at the conference provided ample networking opportunities, for employers, graduate programs, and was a nice way to meet other students and hear their research interests and goals. I am grateful for my experience in this program, and hope that other students in the aging field will continue to grow through the Ohio Scholars in Aging program.

Emilee Smith

Katie Obringer

Katie Obringer

Shawnee State University


“From these programs and the OSA experience, I have sharpened my leadership skills and have become more knowledgeable in the roles of other professionals when caring for older adults.”

My practicum consisted of participating in various programs throughout the community that benefitted the local seniors residing in their homes as well as assisted living facilities. Through the Master of Occupational Therapy program at Shawnee State University, I was involved in Music and Memory, Matter of Balance, CarFit, the Senior Home Information Program (SHIP), and hosting a dementia care group at a local assisted living facility. Below is a short summary of each program.

  • Music and Memory: Helping staff at local assisted living facilities (River Bend House and Concord Rehabilitation Center, Wheelersburg, Ohio) set up personalized playlists for residents using iTunes and iPod Shuffles. I spoke with residents to determine their desired music genres/artists/songs, set up a playlist on a designated iPod, and taught activity directors and aides when and how to administer the music.
  • Matter of Balance: Leading three sessions for a Matter of Balance class at the Oak Hill Senior Center in Oak Hill, Ohio. The course focuses on addressing fears of falling and possible fall risks in the home and environment.
  • CarFit: Became a certified CarFit Technician and participated in CarFit event in Chillicothe, Ohio. CarFit uses a 12-point checklist to ensure senior drivers are fitted safely into their cars and comfortably.
  • SHIP: Part of an interdisciplinary team, I visited homes of seniors in Ross County and evaluated the home for fall risks, and educated the homeowners on fall prevention.
  • Dementia Care: Two classmates and I led a small group at a local assisted living facility (Hill View Retirement Community, Portsmouth, Ohio) consisting of an orientation activity, a gross motor activity, and a fine motor craft activity. I performed cognitive assessments for one resident and wrote up a summary of possible suggestions for staff when working with the resident in order to improve their quality of care.

From these programs and the OSA experience, I have sharpened my leadership skills and have become more knowledgeable in the roles of other professionals when caring for older adults. These programs have not only improved the skills needed for my future career of an occupational therapist, but they broadened my appreciation for the other professionals that are dedicated to quality care for seniors. OSA was a great way to become more familiar in the policy regarding older adults, and I was able to network with my future colleagues in the field of aging.

Collena “Lena” Rhodes

Theresa Medrano

Theresa Medrano

Kent State University


“Both my experience with Menorah Park and the Ohio Scholars of Aging program have provided me with the necessary skill set and information I will need to continue my career path in Nursing Home Administration.”

I am a current student of Kent State University majoring in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Nursing Home Administration. This past fall and spring semester, I received the opportunity to work as an Administrator in Training at Menorah Park in Beachwood, OH. Menorah Park is a nonprofit continuing care retirement community that enables residents to remain in familiar settings as they age.

For my project, I was instructed to perform an analysis of each department’s strengths and where improvements could be made. This was essential to the rebranding of Menorah Park for January of 2017 and the entrance of their new CEO. One of the obstacles I faced was matching schedules with the departments to have a substantial amount of time to observe them. Another obstacle was identifying what could be improved in each department. However, through this project I received the opportunity to present my findings to the CEO, who was able to use this information to further the advancement of the campus.

Throughout this experience, I worked closely with my preceptor and many of the department directors on campus while acquiring a plethora of information concerning long term care. I also acquired information concerning the different services that Menorah Park offers such as the Peter B. Lewis Aquatic Center, the Center for Brain Health, and the Cardiopulmonary Rehab.

It was a privilege to be a part of the Ohio Scholars of Aging program and meet scholars with similar interest in the field of long term care. Through this program I was able to network with a variety of professionals at the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference and at the Ohio Department of Aging. I learned about many of the programs the Ohio Department of Aging offers and how they are continuously working to improve the quality of life of those who are aging. I also received the opportunity to learn more about Medicare, Medicaid, and aging related policies. Both my experience with Menorah Park and the Ohio Scholars of Aging program have provided me with the necessary skill set and information I will need to continue my career path in Nursing Home Administration.

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.