Laura Andrews-Francis

Laura Andrews-Francis

Laura Andrews-Francis

Miami University
Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio

Summer 2014

“Having the opportunity to learn more about our state’s Department of Aging through the Ohio Internships in Aging Program has been invaluable.”

This semester I interned at The Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio in Cincinnati. When the council became involved with the Ohio Home Care Waiver they needed to update their resource directory to provide a better service to all consumers. One of the ways they did this was by adding new categories and resources to include people of all ages who have disabilities. The council acquired packets of resources from The Department of Jobs and Family Services for seven counties: Butler, Hamilton, Clinton, Greene, Clermont, Warren and Montgomery. My project was to check these resources and see if they were currently in the directory, if not I researched the resource and added it to the directory. The information I compiled during my research included the contact information, a description of the resource and links to their programs. Another step was adding keywords that the consumer may use to search for the resource. For example if the resource was Hospice of Dayton, keywords would include: hospice, end of life, emotional support, symptom management, palliative care, hospice providers, hospice services and terminally ill. The goal was to add as many keywords that the consumer may use in a search engine to find a particular resource. Adding as many categories to the resource to be listed under was another step. There is a list of categories to choose from, the categories used for Hospice of Dayton were: care options, grief and loss support groups and hospice. After I completed adding ninety-four new resources I went back to the list of the approximately 2,000 already existing resources and began editing them to make sure they were inclusive to the population as a whole and listed under all applicable categories.

I had heard of many of the resources in the directory but there were more that I had not heard of. Learning about these resources gives me the opportunity to help others by sharing my knowledge of the resources with them or simply referring them to the directory. The resource directory is a valuable tool for consumers, care managers, case workers or anyone working with older adults or people with disabilities.

Having the opportunity to learn more about our state’s Department of Aging through the Ohio Internships in Aging Program has been invaluable. Ohioans are fortunate to have a Department of Aging that is so committed to the needs of our state’s older adults. It shows through the multiple programs and projects they are involved in. Since I have a special interest in intergenerational relationships I really enjoyed learning about the departments intergenerational programs Start Talking and Project More. Everyone I met through my internship experience showed enthusiasm and commitment to the projects and programs they were involved with. It has been a privilege to have firsthand exposure to the agency, their projects and the people dedicated to them.

Natalie Pitheckoff

Natalie Pitheckoff

Natalie Pitheckoff

Miami University

Summer 2014

“Family caregivers are the backbone to the American long-term care system and as such require greater assistance and support than ever before.”

During the summer of 2014, my OAGE/ODA internship was completed in conjunction with an internship with AARP Ohio. My main task was managing a new project that AARP had embarked on dealing with the important issue of family caregivers. Family caregivers are the backbone to the American long-term care system and as such require greater assistance and support than ever before. Through this project I gained a deeper understanding and respect for family caregivers and the struggles and burdens that they face.

The family caregiver project had three main goals. The first was to assemble a work group of aging and other professionals that work for an organization that provides resources to family caregivers within the state of Ohio. The second was to create a resource inventory whereby caregivers could have a single access point to a comprehensive list of informational and supportive services. The third was to develop a community checklist that local communities around the state could utilize to evaluate themselves in terms of the services and resources that are currently provided within their community to assist family caregivers. Another aspect of this project was to reach out to Ohioan family caregivers and have them share their stories and needs with AARP Ohio as a way to further identify what resources and services they require.

My role in managing this project was to first identify organizations around the state that provide resources to family caregivers. This was accomplished through internet searches, phone calls and networking with aging professionals. The second task took several weeks to complete and included reaching out to the identified organizations which was done by creating and sending an introduction letter and project outline and contacting them via phone and email. All organizations that were contacted were asked to participate in a work group on family caregiving which I was responsible for assembling for AARP Ohio. The above outlined tasks accomplished the first goal of this project.

During this period I was also responsible for writing a research report that included an in-depth and comprehensive review of the research literature. This report included information on national and Ohio statistical trends that deal with family caregivers, statues and regulations in place across the nation and in Ohio, national and Ohio programs that assist family caregivers and the benefits and challenges family caregivers face according to years of research done on this topic, just to name a few. This 30 page paper was later internally published and disseminated to the Ohio governor’s office, the national AARP office and other key stakeholders.

From this report a presentation was generated as an overview to be presented to the first meeting of the work group on family caregiving. I will be making the presentation in August of 2014.  Hopefully, this report and presentation will provide a basis of information from which the work group can generate more in-depth recommendations on how to move forward in identifying state and local policies, resources and programs available to family caregivers. Other objectives for the work group include: encouraging innovative and creative means to support family caregivers, soliciting testimony on the needs of family caregivers including the designation of caregiver responsibilities, training, respite services, medical leave practices, and other related policies. The desired end result of the work group is to prepare and provide a report of its findings to the Ohio legislature by the end of this year.

Aside from these tasks I also read various caregiver stories. This allowed me to prepare a document that highlights the heartfelt and touching stories of Ohio family caregivers. This document will be published on the AARP Ohio website and bulletin in September of 2014. The purpose of collecting these stories is to solicit direct testimonials from the population we hope to assist.

The resource inventory has been started by myself and with the guidance of the work group this inventory will expand to include more in-depth local information such as grocery delivery and hygiene services available within a particular Ohio community. As a starting point for the resource inventory and checklist, I have generated a list of local services and supports that family caregivers would like to see within their respective communities. The list was based on research findings, the caregiver stories sent to AARP Ohio and by discussing survey findings collected from a colleague at Miami University that asked Ohio family caregivers what local service and resources they would find most beneficial. This list will be used in the community checklist as a way to evaluate current services being offered and to identify any gaps that may need to be addressed in the future. Once the checklist is completed it will act as a tool for community leaders to access if their community is conducive to family caregivers.

Lastly, a pilot test will be completed by myself in which I will evaluate the services and resources available in the community I live in to the list I have previously generated. Some examples of the resources I will be examining include meal delivery, companionship services, adult day and respite as well as many other diverse services.

Overall, these two internships have been an invaluable learning experience. I would like to thank the Ohio Department of Aging for their welcomed suggestions and assistance in this project as well as the opportunity to connect and work with professionals within the field of aging. I feel like I have had the fortunate opportunity to contribute to a project that will make a difference for family caregivers and their loved ones within the state of Ohio. Thank you again to the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education and the Ohio Department of Aging. For all the future interns out there I highly recommend that you take advance of this wonderful opportunity.

Laura Hahn

Laura Hahn

Laura Hahn

Miami University
Butler County Probate County

Summer 2014

“It was an honor being a part of the Ohio Internships in Aging program, meeting thought leaders and connecting with other interns embarking on careers in aging.”

I interned for the Butler County Probate Court, where I completed a process evaluation of their volunteer guardianship program. Courts establish guardianships to assist individuals who need help making decisions. These individuals may include people living with disabilities, mental illness, or dementia. Volunteer guardians are, first and foremost, companions. (They have what’s called guardianship over person, not guardianship over estate.) In 1996, Judge Randy Rogers started the Butler County Volunteer Guardianship program, one of the few of its kind in the state. This summer, through the process evaluation, Judge Rogers aimed to better understand the experiences of volunteer guardians, and the best ways to strengthen the program moving forward.

This was my first-ever research project, so that alone was a bit daunting at the outset. I was thankful to have the support and guidance of Miami University’s Kate de Medeiros, Ph.D., and Suzanne Kunkel, Ph.D., director of Scripps Gerontology Center. It also was a challenge to arrange and complete 37 interviews within the span of a few weeks, but thanks to a corps of dedicated volunteers and community members, it all came together. I was thrilled to receive a 93 percent response rate among the current volunteers.

In addition to the chance to complete my own research, this internship gave me the opportunity to meet leaders working in the field at the World Congress on Adult Guardianship in Washington, D.C. Closer to home, the experience opened my eyes to an underserved, often-hidden population of caregivers and loved ones and friends. It was an honor being a part of the Ohio Internships in Aging program, meeting thought leaders and connecting with other interns embarking on careers in aging. The idea of guardianship — of advocating for an individual based on his or her will and preference — aligns with the idea of person-centered care, a priority in Ohio and across the country. My internship helped me recognize this, and understand the need for more research in the area. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, perhaps I will be that researcher one day.

Sarah Flowers

Sarah Flowers

Sarah Flowers

Miami University
The 741 Center

Summer 2014

“This experience has given me a stronger voice in order to speak out for older adults, as many of the older adults I met felt as if they had no voice.”

There are 11,400 senior centers helping 1 million seniors a day (National Council on Aging, 2013), many of which with a primary goal to help elders age successfully. The Ohio Department on Aging Internship has given me the opportunity to understand the importance and the impact that senior centers can have on the elderly population. Warren County Community Services has many programs and services for the elderly population, one of which is the 741 Senior Center that has different programs and services to promote cognitive, physical and mental health. Through interning at The 741 Senior Center I was able to be a part of many activities and events, and this experience not only allowed me to be aware of the activities seniors are involved in but enabled me to connect and reach out to the older population.

Some of the activities at the 741 Senior Center include Zumba, computer classes, bingo, Silver Sneakers and more. My internship enabled me to be involved in and help with many of these activities, as I was given many projects that reached out to the older population. My supervisors at the senior center believed that my involvement in these activities promoted the importance of intergenerational relationships and identifying some of the challenges seniors face. My first project consisted of asking the older adults at the senior center to finish a sentence: “I believe older adults”. All the elders enjoyed this project because it gave them an opportunity to speak their mind in regard to the challenges and triumphs they face. My second project consisted of interviewing an elder about their life. This interview gave me the opportunity to hear an elderly women’s story about different adventures and challenges she faced. The interviewee gave me the opportunity to interview her at Otterbein Senior Lifestyles, and in class I learned about different senior communities but never had the opportunity to visit one. This internship gave me the opportunity to be connected to a senior who allowed me to see a senior center for the first time. I worked on other projects that consisted of decorating and setting up collages around the senior center, and the seniors loved seeing their faces on the walls reminding them of different activities that had passed.

Interning at The 741 Senior Center gave me experience working with the elderly population. Many of the elders enjoyed talking with me to the point where my supervisor had to explain to the seniors that I had to have my own space to finish my projects. The Ohio Department of Aging Internship has given me the tools and skills to succeed in my future career in gerontology. I feel I have grown professionally and can achieve any task at hand. This experience has given me a stronger voice in order to speak out for older adults, as many of the older adults I met felt as if they had no voice. The older adults want me to speak out and help them find ways to overcome daily challenges related to aging. I will never forget this experience and all of the new knowledge that I have gained. Being an intern at The 741 Senior Center has revealed the importance of intergenerational relationships, opened my eyes to the struggles seniors face and I hope in my career I can make a change.

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.