Nicole Deneen, Director
Nicole Deneen, Senior Program Specialist, Veteran Community Initiatives, Inc.
Nicole has experience with grant-funded programs, community collaborations, team management, dementia care in senior living, and project and volunteer coordination. For seven years, she has worked in long-term care serving older persons in life enrichment, wellness, and volunteerism. Some of her volunteer programming experience involved intergenerational activities, community service days, companionship for persons with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and Music & Memory support.
Other areas of focus included volunteer onboarding, management, assessments, training, and program evaluations. She has an associate degree in Business Management from Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, and is currently enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program for Healthcare Management with Saint Francis University. More recently, her scope has expanded to community networking, program development, and business management specifically for veteran services.
Additionally, Nicole is currently pursuing certification over the next few months through the Council of Certification for Volunteer Administration with the intent on establishing a volunteer network for and with veteran support. As a long-term care advocate, Nicole’s interests include building support networks involving education, meaningful engagement, and volunteerism to support older persons residing at home, with caregivers, or in long-term care facilities.
Joan Devine, RN, Vice President
Joan Devine, RN, Director of Education – Retired, Pioneer Network
Joan led the development and implementation of educational programming for Pioneer Network. She is a certified Eden Educator and Mentor and the owner and operator of JPDevine Consulting whose mission is to “support care partners on their journey 2 home.” A registered nurse and former activity professional, Joan has over 30 years of experience in healthcare having served in leadership positions in long-term and acute care settings since 1990.
As an advocate for the LTC culture change movement, Joan serves as a frequent speaker at state and national forums and currently serves as a Director on the board of MC5 (Missouri Coalition Celebrating Care Continuum Change). Joan is the author of the book, “Word of the Week: Creating a Culture Change Dictionary, She earned a B.A. in Music Education/Music Therapy, a B.S. in Nursing and a Masters in Management.
Paul P. Falkowski, Ph.D., Founder/President
Paul P. Falkowski, Ph.D., Adjunct, Department of Gerontology, University of Nebraska at Omaha; VolunCheerLeader LLC, Consultant
Dr. Paul Falkowski is dedicated to serving the people who live and work in long-term care communities. Paul has a bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Music, a master’s degree in Gerontology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and earned a doctorate in Gerontology from the University of Nebraska. He was first attracted to the field of aging through his volunteering in nursing homes providing musical entertainment. In 1993, he formed a nonprofit that went on to recruit and train some 700 volunteers for nursing homes over 26 years. In 2003, he contacted the Department of Gerontology at the UNO and was encouraged to pursue a Gerontology graduate certificate.
Nineteen years later, he teaches online courses in gerontology and volunteer management, conducts research and consults with nursing homes. He recently developed the course “Volunteer Management and Aging Services” and is working on research that connects volunteer activities and the nursing home’s quality of measures. Also, he authored “Creating the Volun-Cheer Force: Rethinking the way we use volunteers in nursing homes.” His passion for volunteerism and improving the care of older adults is unwavering. Dr. Falkowski has won numerous awards. Most recently he was named “Distinguished Alumni – 2021” by the University of Nebraska at Omaha, College of Public Affairs and Community Service.
Jeanne Heid-Grubman, Director
Jeanne Heid-Grubman, Vice President of Memory Care, Chicago Methodist Senior Services
Jeanne Heid-Grubman has over 40 years of experience in the field of elder care in a range of settings from community-based services to acute hospital-based rehab. She is currently the Corporate Director of Memory Care for Chicago Methodist Senior Services. Prior to this time, she was an administrator in assisted living and skilled care residences for over 20 years and was always deeply committed to the volunteers serving in her communities. That commitment extended into the surrounding neighborhoods, where she developed a volunteer visiting program for homebound elders.
Early in her career, Jeanne earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Over the years, she has been an enthusiastic advocate for persons living with dementia and remains deeply committed to enhancing the quality of their lives. She is convinced that volunteers are key to making that happen.
Jeanne previously held the position of Director of Education and Outreach for the national office of the Alzheimer’s Association, where she assisted in the development of the Association’s Campaign for Quality Residential Care. The major product of this campaign was a set of practice recommendations to be used as guidelines for long-term care communities to develop and assess their own programs. The national memory care training program that was developed during this campaign is currently being used in long-term care residences throughout the country. In her spare time, Jeanne loves to sew and quilting is her special passion. It is not unusual to find her working on sewing projects with residents.
Nancy J. Kelley, Ph.D., Director
Nancy J. Kelley, Ph.D., Professor and Director of the Social Work Program, University of South Alabama
As of August 2023, Nancy Kelley is a Professor and the Director of the Social Work Program at the University of South Alabama (USA). In this role, she is also affiliated with USA’s Center for Generational Studies. From 2005-2023, she was a Professor with the Grace Abbott School of Social Work (GASSW) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) where she also held a courtesy faculty position with the Department of Gerontology. She received her PhD in Social Work with a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Utah, MSW from The University of Chicago, BSW (with a minor in Developmental Psychology) from Moorhead State University, and AA in Developmental Disabilities and Certificate in Developmental Disabilities from Minot State University. Dr. Kelley’s professional background has been primarily in the fields of aging and developmental disabilities. Her career encompasses the scholarship of engagement through education, research, and service in academia as well as the gamut of advisory/consultative, executive administration, managerial, coordinating and supervisory, case management, and direct service. Her primary interest areas in research, practice, and policy include: quality of care/quality of life of older and disabled adults; family and non-relative caregiving throughout the lifespan across the continuum of care; mental/behavioral health across the lifespan; and intergenerational relationships. Some specific areas of interest involve grandparents raising grandchildren, aging parents of adult children with disabilities, and the impact of volunteers in nursing homes.
Christopher M. Kelly, Ph.D., Director
Chris M. Kelly, Ph.D., Chair, Professor, Department of Gerontology, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Dr. Kelly is a professor and chair of the Department of Gerontology at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO). He received his PhD in Gerontology at the University of Southern California and is in his 17th year at UNO, where he teaches courses that include Introduction to Gerontology, Programs and Services for the Elderly, and Politics & Aging.
His research explores indicators of nursing home quality, as well as innovative long-term care alternatives at the state and local levels. The latter efforts include his service as a member of the State of Nebraska’s Aging Task Force. Among the achievements of the task force is the development of an Alzheimer’s State Plan for Nebraska. He, along with his colleagues at UNO and at Georgia State University, is also exploring efforts to improve the quality of nursing home alternatives, such as assisting living and home care, particularly through the recruitment, training, and retention of direct care workers.
Susan Ostrowski, Director
Susan Ostrowski, Co-Creator/President, Reading2Connect
With an MA in remedial reading and an MS in speech pathology from Columbia University, Susan Ostrowski has worked in a wide variety of senior care settings. Susan is co-creator and president of Reading2Connect®, an organization devoted to bringing back the joy of reading to elders and adults living with dementia.
Writing on the relationship between reading and dementia, Susan has contributed to multiple publications, including the American Speech and Hearing Association Perspectives Journal and the Thieme Medical Publishers Communication Sciences Case Study textbook. Susan is the 2021 Mather Institute Promising Practices Award Winner, a 2021 Beryl Institute Research Grant Recipient, the 2021 Dementia Society of America Dementia SMART Award Winner, and the 2020 American Speech and Hearing Association Recent Clinical Achievement Award Recipient.
Christabel Smith, Secretary
Christabel Smith, Consultant/Educator, C. Smith Consulting
Throughout her career, Christabel, working in the health and human services care industry, has demonstrated her leadership capability managing teams focused on life enrichment, memory care, Alzheimer’s/Dementia, Mental Health, Remotivation Therapy, Intellectual Development Disorder and Behavioral Gerontology.
She is a Licensed MEPAP 1 Instructor, Certified Dementia Practitioner, Certified Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia Care Trainer, and Certified Dementia Care Manager. Besides providing specialized educational programs and consulting, Christabel is an accomplished speaker and webinar presenter. She is trained and skilled in Remotivation Therapy.
Christabel is currently pursuing a degree in Human Services. Her professional credentials include: NCCAP (National Certification Council for Activity Professionals): CC/MC/EDU/PC (Activity Consultant Certified with specializations in memory care, education, and person-centered care.
NCCDP (National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners): CDP, CADDCT, CDCM NRTO (National Remotivation Therapy Organization): CrMTI.
DeAnn Walters, Treasurer
DeAnn Walters, NHA, QCP, Director of Clinical Affairs, California Association of Health Facilities
DeAnn Walters is Director of Clinical Affairs and Quality Improvement for the California Association of Health Facilities (CAHF) and is a QAPI Certified Professional. Ms. Walters provides membership support and policy guidance for providers of skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities for developmentally disabled individuals.
Ms. Walters has 18 years of experience as a nursing home administrator. Her experience includes overseeing short-term rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s care, and mental health programs. During that time, she attained AHCA National Quality Bronze and Silver awards. She also received the Del Callaway Administrative Excellence Award from the CAHF in 2013.
Ms. Walters oversaw the CAHF Volunteer Engagement Program, has volunteered for service projects with Rotary for 8 years and is a member of the Laguna Sunrise Rotary.
Jonas Weitzman, Director
Jonas Weitzman, CNA, Administrator in Training, The Riverside Premier Rehabilitation & Healing Center & Fellow, Caring Across Generations
Jonas Weitzman is a NYC-based Nursing Home worker & reformist. After experiencing the love-sucking atmosphere of his grandmother’s Nursing Home, he left his field to become a Certified Nurse’s Aide. He has since won Caregiver of the Year and was chosen for the 2022 Caring Across Generations fellowship. You can follow Jonas on Twitter @BigWrinkles as he works to infuse Long Term Care with soul. OR… you can follow him down the frozen desserts aisle, where he blows his paycheck on pints (yes, plural) of non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s.
Pamela White, Director
Pamela White, Coordinator of Volunteer Services, CalVet, Veterans Home of California, West Los Angeles
Pamela White is the Coordinator of Volunteer Services and Donations Department for the second largest CalVet Home in the state. Pamela provides oversight and maintains a healthy robust volunteer program. Pamela years of nursing home experience includes her serving as a subject matter expert to the Director of Veteran’s Initiatives Southern California Grantmakers and CAHF Volunteer Engagement Program. Pamela is a volunteer with the Meals on Wheels Program.