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Jonathon Drake


Jonathan Drake is the associate director of the Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorder Center Rhode Island Hospital, and Assistant Professor of neurology at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University. In addition to caring for patients with a variety of neurocognitive disorders in the clinic, he is focused on research activities related to clinical trials and developing new diagnostic tests for Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. Dr. Drake and colleagues at Rhode Island Hospital are also focused on training the next generation of doctors in the practice and science of diagnosing and managing neurodegenerative disorders.

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Patty O'Brian


Patty O’Brian, BS, CDP, is a Dementia Specialist at Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging. Patty has been working with seniors since 1990. As a Recreation Therapist she worked in several different areas; a Skilled Nursing home, a head injury hospital and assisted living facility. It was in the assisted living environment, caring for persons with dementia, that she found her passion for helping individuals with this disease. After leaving long term care, Patty was the North Central Regional Director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Connecticut Chapter. In this role, Patty educated professionals and family caregivers on the basics of dementia, good communication tips and how to handle difficult behaviors. In 2015, Patty joined the Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging as a dementia specialist. In this role, she helps families and caregivers through coaching and education, answering questions, assisting with future planning, as well as providing overall support. A great deal of her day to day work involves education and information for those newly diagnosed with dementia or overwhelmed families/caregivers. She collaborates with the caregiver/families for the best strategies to manage challenging behaviors. A large focus of her work also includes discussing and highlighting safety concerns and assisting with solutions, to enable the person with dementia to live safely in their community environment. Patty is the co-author of the Dementia Caregiver Resource Guide. Patty is also the co-creator of a 5 week Dementia Caregiver Series and a 5 week Brain Healthy Course to assist people in the community.

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Marcus Mitchell

Marcus Mitchell is past volunteer president of AARP Rhode Island. He is currently a member of the AARP Rhode Island Executive Council, Co-lead of their volunteer Speakers Bureau and serves as the AARP liaison for the City of Providence Age-Friendly Task Force. Marcus is the founder of a strategic solutions company with focus areas in crisis management, small business start-ups, continuity of operations and community issues mediation. He serves on the Miriam Hospital Board of Trustees, and on the board of directors of Grow Smart RI, the Village Common, and the RI Environmental Educators Association.

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Lisa Wasson


Lisa Wasson RN, CHPN, CMDCP is the Community Nurse Educator with HopeHealth. She draws on her experience as a hospice and palliative care nurse to develop educational presentations for new and existing clinicians of all disciplines.

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Geraldine Mitchell


Gigi Mitchell is a bilingual, accomplished, healthcare leader with an unwavering dedication to community education by developing and advancing public health initiatives to improve health literacy among disadvantaged communities and individuals with marginalized identities. She currently works at the Alzheimer's Association in Rhode Island as the Diversity Community Engagement Coordinator, where she develops culturally competent DEI frameworks to promote Alzheimer’s awareness, equal access in Alzheimer's care and research, and to amplify local partnerships with community-based organizations to contribute to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and all other dementia. Gigi also serves as the Co-Chair of the Chronic Health Conditions Subcommittee of the South Providence Health Equity Zone. Gigi earned a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from the University of Puerto Rico and is also a Certified Community Health Worker in Rhode Island. 


Amber Evans


Amber Evans is the Vice President of Memory Care and Resident Engagement Services for LCB Senior Living. She oversees all aspects of the company’s renowned and award-winning Reflections Memory Care program, as well as their Engagement Program with their cutting edge 5 Principles for Vitality for thriving senior living. Amber received her dual master’s degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Antioch University New England. Amber entered Senior Living as an Expressive Art Therapist working directly with individuals with various forms of dementia around supportive communication, expression and emotional support, and joined the LCB Senior Living family in 2014. 

Laurie Mantz

Laurie Mantz


Laurie Gunter Mantz is an accomplished Occupational Therapist with over 30 years of

clinical, managerial, and educational experience. Over the last 15 years she has specialized

in dementia care with multiple internationally recognized certifications as a trainer and

care provider in Person-Centered Dementia Care. She has lectured locally, internationally

and assisted the University of Rhode Island, Johnson and Wales University, and Rhode

Island Colleges in curriculum development and training for the workforce development of

healthcare professionals. Laurie is the founder of the non-profit Rhode Island Memory

Cafes, a social and therapeutic opportunity for individuals living with dementia and their

care partners to engage with others in-person and virtually through COVID.

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Mark Heffner


Mark B. Heffner, Esq. founded Heffner & Associates in 1992 to serve the needs of older Rhode Islanders and their families. Mark began the practice of law in 1982 at larger law firms, but

in 1988, he experienced an elder law crisis within his own family. This incident made Mark

decide that the best way to help fellow Rhode Islanders who are faced with elder law

issues was to found a law firm focused on elder law.

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Kelly McCarthy

BS, BC-Ded

Kelly has been in the senior health industry for 28 years. She graduated from Emmanuel College in Boston with a B.S. in Psychology and a concentration in Gerontology Rehabilitation/Management. She is certified as a Master Trainer for the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Association and is responsible for contributing to the development of the Rhode Island 2010 Train the Trainer Memory Care 12 hour State recognized training program for caregivers. Kelly holds certificates in: Alzheimer’s facilitator support groups, Alzheimer’s speaker’s bureau lecturer and is a certified memory care trainer for the State of Florida.


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Kristen Cusato

Alzheimer’s Association Research Champion

Kristen Cusato, Alzheimer’s Association New England Region’s Research Champion and Communications Director for the Connecticut and Rhode Island chapters. Kristen Cusato

was a journalist for more than 20 years, 11 of which were spent at News Channel 8 in

New Haven, Conn. When her best friend, her mom Linda, was diagnosed with dementia,

their lives changed. Kristen became a caregiver for her mother, and helping others going through the same situation became her passion and purpose. She now works for the Alzheimer’s Association, raising awareness of the disease, sharing care techniques and

the very latest research towards prevention, new treatments and eventually a cure. 

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Victoria O'Connor

Program Manager for the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders

Program at the RI Department of Health

Victoria O’Connor is the Program Manager for the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related

Disorders Program at the Rhode Island Department of Health. Her passion for supporting

people living with dementia and their caregivers is inspired by her own personal

experience with loved ones living with dementia, and the many stories from community members sharing their connection to this condition. Victoria’s previous work in community-based organizations and focus on health equity has propelled her career in public health.

Victoria is a graduate from the University of Rhode Island (2016), and is currently finishing

her Master’s thesis in the Health Care Administration Program at Rhode Island College.

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Kathy O'Neel Webster


Kathy O'Neel Webster is the owner of ShipShape. Kathy is also a fitness enthusiast and lifelong Rhode Islander, who is passionate about helping older adults enhance their quality of life both in body and mind. Kathy empowers people throughout the aging journey, to improve their mobility and strength through balance, breath and movement practices. With over 35 years experience in the health and fitness industry, Kathy has worked with adults to maintain their quality of life, as they age, through balancing healthy lifestyles and regular movement.

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Elyse Couch


Dr. Couch is an Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice in the Center for Evidence Synthesis at Brown University. Her research is interdisciplinary and draws on a range to research methods including epidemiology, qualitative methods and systematic reviews to answer complex questions regarding how to identify and meet the care needs of vulnerable individuals and their caregivers in health services and long-term care settings. 

She has  a particular focus on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Among other things, her research has addressed patient and caregiver experiences of diagnostic testing using novel biomarkers and the potential harms and benefits of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease early, care quality in long-term care settings and issues in advance care planning for end-of-life. 

Dr. Couch also supports and leads review projects for the the AHRQ-designated Brown University Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC).

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