Tell us a little about yourself.
I have been the CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter for 16 years. Prior, I spent 19 years in a variety of positions at the Children’s Home Society of Virginia and 6 years as Director of Development/Alumnae at Saint Gertrude High School. Originally from upstate New York, I graduated from the University of Vermont before coming to Virginia Commonwealth University to earn my Masters in Social Work.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I have been fortunate to not have been personally affected by dementia in my family. However, I quickly learned what the disease does to not only the person diagnosed, but to the entire family. While our services cannot make their journey easy, we can make it less stressful — knowing we are here 24/7 to answer questions or just listen is extremely rewarding.
Tell us a little about your work, challenges, and lessons learned.
The Alzheimer’s Assocation provides support and education to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases, their families, and caregivers. In addition, we support cutting edge research and advocate for federal funds for research and services to those affected by dementia.
When I came to the Chapter 16 years ago, I was the only full-time staff member. We now have a staff of 15 with three regional offices in addition to our main office in Innsbrook. The awareness of the disease and the chapter has grown tremendously. Unfortunately, as our population ages, the need for services has also grown and will continue to do so as the baby boomers age — it is anticipated that 10 million boomers will develop Alzheimer’s. Thus the major challenges we face are the growing number of individuals who need our services and making sure that they know we are here and how we can help them.
The lesson that I have learned is the importance of having compassionate people on the staff who are dedicated to serving those who need us.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
Caregivers are often so overwhelmed that they don’t have much time to learn about services that are available to them. ConnectVA provides us a means to educate the public about how we can help them and to inform them about programs and events.