Keynotes

Louise Aronson, MD, MFA

Geriatrician, Author, Professor of Medicine

University of California San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA

Title: Elderhood: Redefining Old Age to Reimagine Life

Description: We will explore how the way we talk about old age, colloquially and professionally, contributes to the challenges of growing old in America. Compare medicine and society’s approaches to childhood, adulthood, and elderhood.  We will also identify the opportunities to use aging and gerontology to improve society and health for everyone.

Bio: Dr. Aronson is a leading geriatrician, writer, educator, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the author of the New York Times bestseller Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, and Reimagining Life.

Elderhood has been praised as a “monumental book about growing old in America-with powerful arguments and revolutionary conclusions that will challenge your assumptions and open your mind about aging.” Her writing appears in publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, Discover Magazine, JAMA, Bellevue Literary Review and the New England Journal of Medicine. Her work has been featured on TODAY, CBS This Morning, NPR’s Fresh Air, Politico, LitHub, Kaiser Health News, and Tech Nation.


Peter F. Banitt, MD, FACC, FSCAI

Non-invasive/Invasive/Interventional Cardiology

The Oregon Clinic, Portland, OR

Title: Deprescribing Cardiac Medications in Older Adults

Description: De-prescribing is the process of medication withdrawal or dose reduction to correct or prevent medication related complications and improve outcomes.  This presentation will look at the rationale for de-prescribing cardiac medications in older adults, review triggers to reduce or modify them, and develop a framework on how to de-prescribe the medications.

Bio: Dr. Banitt is a general & interventional cardiologist with The Oregon Clinic.  He treats patients with all varieties of cardiovascular disease and is skilled in performing coronary stenting and other procedures. Originally from Iowa, Dr. Banitt received his medical degree from the University of Iowa College of Medicine. He then trained in Internal Medicine and Cardiology at Beth Israel Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, both teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School in Boston. He has spoken nationally and internationally on the role of PTSD on heart disease.  He also works closely with Naturopathic physicians and other complimentary health providers in optimizing patient’s cardiac care.


Barak Gaster, MD, FACP

Professor of Medicine

University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Title: Advance Care Planning for Dementia: Directives and More

Description: Dementia is one of the most challenging conditions to navigate for patients and families as the disease progresses. This presentation will explore the full options which are available to help align the care that patients get with the care they would have wanted.

Bio: Barak Gaster is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington. He served as the Medical Director of the General Internal Medicine Center there and now serves as the Chair of the UW Medicine Advance Care Planning Committee. He has 20 years’ experience as a primary care doctor and now leads a program to educate health professionals about dementia. The Dementia Directive he helped create has been downloaded more than 100,000 times by people across the country and has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR.


Wendy Lustbader, MSW 

Lecturer and Clinical Associate Professor, School of Social Work

University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Title: Living As Prescribed: Ways to Motivate Improved Self-Care

Description: Older adults and younger people with disabilities are often labeled non-compliant when they staunchly resist medical advice, rebel against dietary restrictions, ignore warnings about fall risks, refuse to participate in rehab, or fail to use adaptive devices for their own health and safety. This session explores approaches for motivating improved self-care while respecting the right to self-determination.

Bio: Wendy Lustbader is the author of several books that have earned her a national reputation in the field of aging. She is also a popular speaker at conferences throughout the United States and Canada, using storytelling to animate complex subjects. Additionally, she is a skilled psychotherapist, having worked almost twenty years with people from all walks of life at a community clinic in downtown Seattle. Currently, she is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University Of Washington School Of Social Work in Seattle. Wendy’s first book was co-authored with Nancy Hooyman, “Taking Care of Aging Family Members”. Her second book, “Counting on Kindness”, helps readers to comprehend the complex feelings which arise when we become dependent on others for help. Her latest books are “What’s Worth Knowing”, a collection of pithy insights gathered from older people, and “Life Gets Better”, which explores how life improves as we get older, on every level except the physical.

Presenters


Michelle Barnhart, PhD

Associate Professor, School of Business

Oregon State University

Title: Who Are You Calling Old? Old Age Stereotyping and How to Avoid It

Bio: Michelle Barnhart is Associate Professor of Marketing at Oregon State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Utah and her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Stanford University. Her research focuses on cultural norms, social groups, and individual identity as manifest in consumption activities. Her research has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Business Research, the Journal of Marketing Management, the Journal of Macromarketing, and the Journal of the Association of Consumer Research. In addition, her work has received media attention in outlets including US News & World Report, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, and The Chicago Tribune. Prior to her academic career, Professor Barnhart worked for eight years in the personal emergency response industry and two years as a molecular biologist.


Joyce Beedle, RN, BSN

Alzheimer’s Consultant and Owner, Alzheimer’s Consulting Services

Statewide Alzheimer Caregiver Educator & Consultant, Oregon Dept of Human Services, Oregon Home Care Commission

Title: Issues of Sexuality: Insatiable, Unwanted, Intimacy and Satisfy Touch Hunger

Bio: Joyce Beedle RN BSN is one of the pioneers of compassionate Alzheimer’s care and has over 35 years of professional “hands-on” experience as well as more than a decade of personal caregiving experience. She is a book author of The Carebook: A Workbook for Caregiver Peace of Mind and has been a consultant for numerous books and video tapes. Joyce graduated with Honors from the University of Arizona in 1978 earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.


Melissa Cannon, PhD

Assistant Professor of Gerontology

Western Oregon University

Title: Age-Friendly Communities: Supporting Aging in Place

Bio: Dr. Melissa Cannon is an Assistant Professor of Gerontology at Western Oregon University. She specializes in environmental gerontology and teaches courses such as Introduction to Aging, Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Management, and Housing and Long-Term Care for Older Adults. Her research interests include age-friendly environments, community partnerships, and policies and programs that help create healthy, inclusive communities for people across the life course.


Kimberly Carson, MPH, C-IAYT, E-RYT

Yoga Therapist & Mindfulness Educator

Oregon Health & Science University

Title: Mindful Yoga for Chronic Pain: Modern Applications of Ancient Wisdom for Re-training the Nervous System

Bio: Kimberly Carson, MPH, C-IAYT, E-RYT, is a yoga therapist and mindfulness educator at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) using yoga and meditation with patients living with pain, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. She codirects Mindful Yoga professional trainings focusing on seniors, chronic pain, and cancer at Duke Integrative Medicine. Kimberly coauthored studies at Duke University Medical Center, OHSU, and Kaiser Permanente using yoga and meditation for patients with chronic low-back pain, metastatic breast cancer pain, menopausal symptoms, fibromyalgia, opioid dependence, and multiple sclerosis. In addition, Kimberly teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and is certified in Kripalu Yoga. She is coauthor of Relax into Yoga for Seniors and the forthcoming book Relax into Yoga for Chronic Pain. 


Joyce De Monnin, MPH, MBA

Communications Director

AARP

Title: Are Americans Financially Prepared for the 100-Year Life?

Joyce De Monnin, MPH, MBA, is the Communications Director for AARP Oregon as well as leader of  the AARP’s efforts across the on financial security. Her work has focused on helping Oregonians prepare for retirement including helping to advocate for the creation of OregonSaves, the first-in-the-nation, state-sponsored IRA program and leading AARP’s efforts to help implement the program. She has also lead AARP Oregon’s efforts to expand opportunities for workers 50+. She co-chaired the workforce committee for the 2008 Multnomah County report “Everyone Matters” to share the asset-based philosophy of older workers in community. She currently co-chairs the economic development and employment subcommittee for the Portland/Multnomah Age Friendly Cities Council. “As we embark on our world where living to 100 is no longer unusual, we need to fundamentally reframe the conversation about how we think of and value people across the lifespan,” she said.


Katelin Rose Gallagher, MA

Contemplative Studies Coordinator, Yoga and Relaxation Instructor

Oregon State University

Title: Self-Compassion for Aging, Caregiving, Dying and Grief

Bio: Kate has been teaching yoga for twelve years and meditation, Buddhism, and yogic philosophy for five.  She is an avid practitioner of Mindful Self-Compassion and a trained teacher of the method through the UCSD Center for Mindfulness.  Kate earned her Master’s Degree in Applied Ethics at OSU; her thesis examined the relationship between motherhood and spiritual insight in the biographies of female Buddhist exemplars. In 2018, Kate had the privilege to spend a year in a solitary meditation and study retreat in a cabin in the redwoods.  She currently works as the Contemplative Studies Initiative Coordinator at OSU.


Jaymi Grant, DTR

Registered Dietetic Technician and Nutrition Educator

Title: Nutrition and Aging: Diseases/Disorders of the GI Tract

Bio: Jaymi Grant is a Dietetic Technician, Registered that has been providing nutrition education at Mid-Valley Gastroenterology for over 2 years. Jaymi, an Oregonian, completed her B.S. in Science, Dietetics at Oregon State University. She enjoyed the atmosphere and community feel of Corvallis and decided to stay in the area after graduating. She started working for GSRMC in the laboratory, before settling into her current position. She enjoys helping patients and providing individualized recommendations. In her free time, she enjoys running, scrapbooking, and playing with her cat.


Allison Harris, MPH

Walk With Ease Program Coordinator

Oregon State University Extension Service

Panel Presentation: Engaging Seniors in Mental Health and Physical Activity in Community Based Settings

Bio: Allison Harris is the Nutrition Program Coordinator through the Oregon State University Extension Service in Coos and Curry counties. She delivers nutrition education and obesity prevention programs to low income families by partnering with local schools, food pantries, DHS offices, farmers’ markets and other local organizations. She is also the statewide Walk With Ease Program Coordinator. She works in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority and community organizations to administer instructor-led, self-directed, and online virtual Walk With Ease programs in Oregon.


Keith Harris, MD

Mid-Valley Gastroenterology

Title: Aging and GI Disorders

Bio: Dr. Keith Harris, MD is currently a member of Mid-Valley Gastroenterology Group in Corvallis Oregon. Dr Keith Harris has a great deal of experience regarding the field of medicine and gastroenterology in particular. Dr Keith Harris, MD. is involved in inpatient hospital and outpatient delivery of care to patients in the field of gastroenterology. Dr Keith Harris is board certified in the sub- specialty of Gastroenterology and the specialty of Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Dr Keith Harris attended Whittier College in southern California. Dr Keith Harris, MD graduated from Howard University College of Medicine with a degree in Medicine in 1979. Dr Keith Harris has attained expertise in many advanced endoscopic techniques including colonoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and cholangioscopy with lithotripsy to name a few.


Paul Iarrobino

Founding Director

True Path Consulting NW

Title: Storytelling as a Healing Practice for Marginalized Elders

Bio: Paul Iarrobino is a skilled trainer, LGBT Aging Expert, storyteller, event organizer and planner, and documentary producer. As a skilled coach, he helps agency leaders and teams better understand their personal, professional, and organizational story to be more nimble and relevant. Paul recently produced a film entitled Breaking the Silence: an Oral History of Oregon’s LGBTQ Service Members for the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


Cheryl Kirk, RD

Senior Instructor

Oregon State University Extension Service

Panel Presentation: Engaging Seniors in Health and Physical Activity in Community Based Settings

Bio: Cheryl Kirk, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with over 30 years’ experience in community and clinical-based nutrition education in Oregon. Currently a Senior Instructor with OSU Extension Family & Community Health, she leads a team of five-nutrition education in southern Oregon. In her work, she strives to communicate up-to-date information and resources for nutrition and food safety and foster healthy communities to address the social determinants of health. Cheryl serves on several local and regional boards including the Josephine County Food bank board and the OSU Older Adult work group. Her previous work experience includes providing medical nutrition therapy to older adults in outpatient, group and home visiting programs in southern Oregon.


Ellen Klem, JD

Director of Consumer Outreach and Education

Oregon Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General

Title: Taking Bold Steps to End Elder Abuse

Bio: Ellen Klem is the director of consumer outreach and education for the Office of the Attorney General. Her mission is to prevent financial harm to Oregonians, especially older adults, Oregonians whose first language is not English, and students with large education-related debts. Previously, Ellen worked at the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging in Washington, D.C., where she was responsible for research, policy development, advocacy, education and training. Ellen received her bachelor’s degree from James Madison College at Michigan State University and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.


Lauren Kraemer, MPH

Assistant Professor of Practice

Oregon State University Extension Service

Panel Presentation: Engaging Seniors in Health and Physical Activity in Community Based Settings

Bio: Lauren Kraemer, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Practice with Oregon State University Extension Service. She has over ten years experience in the field of public health, and has spent majority of her career working on health and well-being programs for low-income, food insecurity families and individuals as well as working on policy, systems, and environmental changes to improve the social determinants of health and improve health equity.


Dusti Linnell, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Practice

Oregon State University Extension Service

Panel Presentation: Engaging Seniors in Health and Physical Activity in Community Based Settings

Bio: Dusti Linnell, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Practice with Oregon State University Extension Service. In her appointment in Extension Family & Community Health program, Dusti works with community organizations to translate public health and nutrition research into practice. She teaches courses and works on community projects that help individuals engage in healthy eating patterns and physical activity recommendations, and reduce risk of illness and injury. She also conducts applied research to identify approaches and strategies to support dietary health on the Oregon Coast.


Margaret Manoogian, PhD

Professor and Department Head of Gerontology

Western Oregon University

Title: Aging with Others (or Not): Social Engagement vs. Social Isolation

Bio: Margaret Manoogian, Ph.D., Professor and Department Head of Gerontology at Western Oregon University, received her PhD. from Oregon State University in Human Development and Family Studies. She teaches courses on social ties and aging, end-of-life issues, as well as cognitive, physical, and developmental changes in aging. As a family gerontologist, she investigates intergenerational transmissions among older parents and adult children. Her current intergenerational research has focused on individuals and families who experience genocide, poverty, or the death of an older family member. Her special interest is in facilitating community education on topics that are of importance to older adults and their families.


Meghan A. Marty, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Rose City Geropsychology, LLC

Title: Mood and Anxiety in Later Life

Bio: Meghan Marty is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Founder of Rose City Geropsychology, LLC, an outpatient mental health practice dedicated to serving older adults and their families in the Portland, Oregon area. Dr. Marty earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She completed a geropsychology-focused pre-doctoral internship and a palliative care-focused post-doctoral fellowship, both at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California.


Cynthia McDaniel, MSN, RN

CEO

ElderWise, Inc.

Title 1: RN Delegation in Oregon – Clinical Reasoning and Clinical Judgement

Title 2: Change of Condition and Monitoring in Community Based Care Settings

Bio: Cynthia McDaniel a registered nurse and the CEO of ElderWise Inc. She has been working in the field of elder care and assisted living for more than 20 years. Cynthia specializes in business operations and clinical consulting. She has owned a private practice as a geriatric care manager, been a regional director of operations and clinical operations for senior living companies and an assistant professor at Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing.

Cynthia holds a Master of Science in Nursing from Gonzaga University. She is a Fellow of the Sigma Theta Tau/John A. Hartford Foundation Geriatric Nursing Leadership Academy. She presents/trains on a variety of subjects, locally and nationally. She is a co-founder of the Gero Leadership Alliance and the Community Nursing Network.


Mari Miller Goldner, MD

Private Practice, Sleep Medicine

The Corvallis Clinic

Title: Insomnia and the Older Adult

Bio: Mari Miller Goldner, M.D. is originally from Minnesota, with medical training on the East Coast and a few wonderful years of primary care service on the Navajo reservation in Shiprock, NM. Dr. Goldner previously focused on Pulmonary and Critical Care, with Sleep as a later addition. She has been active in sleep work since moving to Corvallis 16 years ago.


Maureen Nash, MD, MS

Medical Director

Providence ElderPlace PACE Oregon (Providence St. Joseph’s Health)

Private Psychiatric Practice

Title: Resilience As We Age: What is it and How to Measure It?

Bio: Maureen Nash, MD currently serves as the Medical Director of Providence Elderplace which is a Program of All Inclusive Care of the Elderly. She is a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Physicians. She is board certified in both internal medicine and psychiatry. Prior to Elderplace she served as the Medical Director of the Tuality Center for Geriatric Psychiatry (TCGP), an inpatient geriatric psychiatry unit.

She co-edited Neurocognitive Behavior Disorders: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Patient-Centered Care published in 2019. She is active statewide and nationally with the National PACE Association, American Psychiatric Association Council on Geriatric Psychiatry, American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) and the Oregon Partnership to Improve Dementia Care among others.

She has a clinical appointment at Oregon Health and Sciences University Department of Psychiatry.  She earned her medical degree in 1997 at the University Of Kansas School Of Medicine.  She went on to complete her residency at the combined internal medicine/psychiatry residency program at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., where she also served as chief resident. 


Sean A. Newsom, PhD

Assistant Professor of Kinesiology

College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University

Title: Physical Activity and Its Impact on Type 2 Diabetes and the Skeletal Muscle

Bio: Sean Newsom, PhD completed his doctoral training at the University of Michigan in the School of Kinesiology, and postdoctoral training at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. His research is focused on obesity-related metabolic diseases, namely insulin resistance and the path to type 2 diabetes. Despite significant effort to develop treatments to combat insulin resistance, lifestyle intervention (e.g. diet modification and increased physical activity) remains the gold-standard. To this end, Dr. Newsom seeks to identify mechanisms underlying improved insulin sensitivity following lifestyle modification – particularly exercise activity. This work involves the study of lipids as mediators of insulin resistance and the ability of exercise to significantly enhance insulin sensitivity via altered skeletal muscle lipid metabolism. The long-term goal of this work is to optimize intervention strategies for the treatment of insulin resistance in humans. Dr. Newsom joined the faculty in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University in 2015; he and Dr. Matthew Robinson co-direct the Translational Metabolism Research Laboratory.


Aimee Pierce, MD

Layton Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease Center

Department of Neurology, Oregon Health and Science University

Title: Is Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease Possible?

Bio: Aimee Pierce is the Director of the Clinical Care and Therapeutics Program of the Oregon Health & Science University Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, one of 32 National Institute on Aging – Designated Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers in the U.S.A.  She is an associate professor of neurology, and focuses on patient care and clinical research for patients with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and Frontotemporal dementia.  She has been the principal investigator of more than 15 clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment.  From 2011-2018 she served as an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine.  Dr. Pierce completed her M.D. at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, neurology residency at UCLA, and geriatric neurology fellowship at UC San Diego – San Diego V.A. 


Matt Robinson, PhD

Assistant Professor

College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University

Title: Physical Activity and Its Impact on Type 2 Diabetes and the Skeletal Muscle

Bio: Matt Robinson, PhD is an exercise physiologist who seeks to understand how physical activity protects against the development of chronic disease.  His research focus is on mitochondria, a primary site for metabolism, and influence on skeletal muscle health and function during aging, obesity and changes in physical activity. He earned a PhD in Human Bioenergetics from Colorado State University and post-doctoral fellowship in Nutrition, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Mayo Clinic. He joined Oregon State University in 2016 and co-directs the Translational Metabolism Research Laboratory alongside Dr. Sean Newsom.


Delaram Safarpour, MD, MSCE

Assistant Professor of Neurology

School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University

Title: Advanced Treatment Options in Parkinson’s Disease

Bio: Dr. Delaram Safarpour is a movement disorders neurologist with special interest in Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and other movement disorders. She is a member of OHSU’s Parkinson Center and Movement Disorders Program and serves as co-director of OHSU’s deep brain stimulation program. Dr. Safarpour runs a busy clinic at OHSU and is involved in several multicenter clinical trials. Her research on the role of gastrointestinal dysfunction in individuals with Parkinson’s disease in whom there is a lack of a typical response to levodopa recently was awarded funding through the PSG. She has authored many papers in peer reviewed journals, co-authored several book chapters on movement disorders, and has lectured on Parkinson’s disease around the country. Locally, she has been very active in giving talks on Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor to support groups, including outreach programs in rural Oregon.


Jenny Sasser, PhD

Lead Instructor

Human Development & Family Sciences, Oregon State University

Title 1: PART 1: “Aging is Strange”: Exploring the Complexities of the Life-Course Journey

Title 2: “Aging is Strange”: Exploring the Complexities of the Life-Course Journey: PART 2

Bio: Jenny Sasser has been working in the field of gerontology for more than half her life, beginning as a nursing assistant and senior citizen advocate before focusing on research, writing and teaching.  Jenny served as Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Founding Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University from 1999 to 2015.  She’s had a long connection with the gerontology program at Portland Community College, designing and teaching courses, including Understanding and Ending Ageism, as well as being a part of many initiatives and projects. In June 2018, she joined the Human Development and Family Sciences faculty at Oregon State University, serving as lead instructor for hybrid courses to be offered in Portland.

Jenny serves as co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody, of Aging: Concepts and controversies and, as first author, of the recently published book from Routledge, U.K., Gerontology: The basics, as well as the author and co-author of essays, articles, and poetry.

Her other ongoing commitments include convening the Gero-Punk Project and serving as a conversation project facilitator and trainer for Oregon Humanities.


Vicki Schmall, PhD

Executive Director, Gerontology and Training Specialist Aging Concerns;

Professor Emeritus, Oregon State University

Title: Loneliness and Social Isolation in Later Life

Bio: Vicki Schmall, PhD is President and Gerontology & Training Specialist with Aging Concerns in West Linn, Oregon. She is also Professor Emeritus of Oregon State University, where she served as the Director of the Program on Gerontology and the Gerontology Specialist in the OSU Extension Service for over 20 years. Dr. Schmall is well known for her development of many aging-related training programs and educational materials. These include eight multimedia workshop packages focused on family caregiving and communication issues, three additional videos, eight training manuals and four educational games that are distributed nationally. Dr. Schmall is the co-author of the book, The Caregiver Helpbook: Powerful Tools for Caregiving.

Dr. Schmall’s areas of expertise include: family decision-making and caregiving in later life; aging and health-related changes-physical, psychological and social; family communication and caregiving issues (including Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias); mental health issues; sensitivity training on aging-related changes; learning and memory in later life; late-life sexuality; and curriculum design.


Rashmi Shah, MD

Rheumatologist

Northwest Rheumatology Associates

Title: Geriatric Rheumatology

Bio: Dr. Shah is a practicing Rheumatologist in Portland Oregon and a Board certified Geriatrician and Rheumatologist. Her training and experience in Geriatrics has provided a solid foundation for complex care of frail older adults and she applies the same principles to the field of Rheumatology.


Shiv Sharma, DDS

General Dentist

Palo Alto Oral Health Clinic

Title: Oral Health and Aging: Why It Matters and What to Do

Bio: Shiv Sharma is a general dentist in Palo Alto, California. He owns and operates the Palo Alto Oral Health Clinic. Dr. Sharma is an advocate for a deeper understanding of the oral-systemic connection between medical and dental professionals and has published articles found in the Wall Street Journal and The Federalist.


Benjamin M. Surmi, MsG

Social Gerontologist

MsG Director of People and Culture

Koelsch Communities

Title: International Innovation: Applying 40 Years of Research in Europe to US Care

Bio: Empowering people to thrive – no matter what disability or cognitive disorder they may live with – is the focus of Benjamin’s work as a social gerontologist. Caregiver, activity director, lifelong learning center director, and home repair coordinator were each roles that shaped his understanding of the unique needs of seniors. He guides the person-centered training for over 2,400 employees in 8 states and is currently implementing an evidence-based approach to care from France called Humanitude. He coaches 70+ wellness directors who support over 1,500 seniors. His passion is imagining the impossible and building alliances that make it possible.


Joy Waite-Cusic, PhD

Associate Professor of Food Safety and Quality Systems

Department of Food Science and Technology, Oregon State University

Panel Presentation: Engaging Seniors in Mental Health and Physical Activity in Community Based Settings

Bio: Joy Waite-Cusic is an Associate Professor of Food Safety Systems at Oregon State University and serves as Oregon’s Statewide Specialist for the Master Food Preserver Program.  She grew up on a dairy farm outside of Florence, Oregon. Joy uses her expertise and curiosity to support consumers, farms, and food processors to inform practical decision-making to reduce the risks of foodborne illness.