OAMHAD Resource Center



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OAMHAD Program Planning Committee

The Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day (OAMHAD) Program Committee members have met regularly since November 2021 to share their expertise and provide feedback on the content and structure of the symposium. These individuals volunteered their time to identify the broad educational needs of the older adult mental health awareness community to bring you the 5th Annual OAMHAD symposium.

Thank you to our the OAMHAD Program Committee members for your support in bringing this event to fruition. 

Kathleen A. Cameron, Co-Chair


Kathleen A. Cameron, BS Pharm, MPH has over 25 years of experience in the health care field as a pharmacist, researcher and program director focusing on falls prevention, geriatric pharmacotherapy, mental health, long-term services and supports, and caregiving. Ms. Cameron is currently Senior Director at the National Council on Aging (NCOA) where she oversees the U.S. Administration on Aging-funded National Falls Prevention Resource Center and National Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME) Resource Center. Ms. Cameron was previously with JBS International as director of a SAMHSA-funded technical assistance center aimed at educating the aging network, mental health providers and policy makers about behavioral health conditions among older adults. She has also held positions at the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists Foundation and the National Council on Aging. She has served as a consultant to various aging and health care organizations in the Washington DC area. Ms. Cameron received her BS degree in pharmacy from the University of Connecticut and her MPH from Yale University. The topic of her Master’s thesis was medication use and risk of falling among community-dwelling older adults. 

​Keri Lipperini, Co-Chair, Co-Lead for Lived Experiences Advisory Group


Keri Lipperini is the Director in the Office of Nutrition and Health Promotion Programs, within the Administration for Community Living’s, Administration on Aging.  For over 25 years, she has worked in health and wellness, 20 of those years she has been working specifically with the aging and disabilities populations. Prior to her work at AoA, Ms. Lipperini served as Program Manager for Calvert County Maryland where she oversaw Calvert’s health promotion and nutrition programs. Keri is a former United States Navy Hospital Corpsman. She holds Masters in Public Administration (MPA) with Health Care focus from Troy State University and Bachelors of Science degree in Health Care Administration from Southern Illinois University. 

Ellen Blackwell


Ellen Blackwell is a senior advisor at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Center for Clinical Standards and Quality. She is a geriatric social worker with an extensive background in in aging, disability services, and long-term services and supports in Medicare, and Medicaid. At CMS she works on programs that support improved quality, program efficiency, and person-centered care. She joined the Federal service as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2001. Prior to joining CMS, Ms. Blackwell was a consultant at The Horizon Foundation, a philanthropic organization that promotes local health and wellness. She interned as a graduate student at The Hilltop Institute, a health research center at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and at the Howard County Office on Aging. Ms. Blackwell also founded a chapter of the Autism Society of America.  

Angie Boddie, Co-Lead Equity and SDOH Advisory Group


Angie Boddie is director of Health Programs for the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging, Inc., (NCBA), a national aging organization whose major focus is to meet and address the social and economic challenges of African American and Black older adults.  Boddie provides technical assistance and programmatic expertise to plan, implement, and direct Title VII programs that impact African American health and wellness, vitality, and activity at a mature age.  

She is also a member of the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC), a national organization representing American Indian and Alaska Native Elders; Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian older adults; Black and African American older adults; Hispanic and Latinx older adults; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults.  The DEC works promotes policy changes and programmatic solutions that respond to demographic shifts and barriers facing diverse communities.  

Boddie is the creator and contributing author to “The Caucus Corner”, an external newsletter published by NCBA that highlights employment, health, and housing national trends as well as federal and state policies affecting the advocacy, delivery of services, and technical assistance offered to older adults.  She is also a contributing author for “A Journey to Wellness”, an online health news magazine for African Americans, and the co-author of “How Aging Black America Lives,” a demographic report that examines the social and economic quality of life indicators for African American older adults compared to their counterparts. 

Boddie is a graduate of the University of Maryland, with a B.S. degree in Paralegal Studies.  She holds a master’s degree in Public Relations, Corporate Communications from Georgetown University.  She also serves an alumni instructor for the Master of Professional Studies, Public Relations, Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University.  

Virginia Dize, Co-Lead Equity and SDOH Advisory Group


Virginia Dize is the Program Director of Transportation at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and Co-Director of the FTA-funded National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC). Ms. Dize also directs n4a’s work as a partner in the Inclusive Coordinated Transportation Partnership Project, funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living. Previously at n4a, she served as Co-Director of the National Center on Senior Transportation (NCST), also funded by FTA, and managed n4a’s work on call centers under the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI).  

Since coming to n4a in 2008, Ms. Dize has focused her work on transportation to meet the needs of older adults, people with disabilities, caregivers and communities. She has directed a total of eight rounds of competitive grants through the NCST and NADTC, has extensive experience in inclusive transportation planning, and has written about, and overseen small projects addressing volunteer transportation, rural transportation and community outreach. She developed the Every Ride Counts Campaign to assist local communities promote transportation services and worked with a research firm to design and develop surveys of transportation users and providers. Ms. Dize’s work in transportation is grounded in a career of more than 35 years in aging programs at the local, state and national levels. She was the Virginia State Long Term Care Ombudsman from 1984 to 1992, and has wide experience in elder rights, advocacy, long term services and supports, caregiver support, diversity, and transportation for older adults.  

Ms. Dize frequently speaks at national conferences. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA, and a Master of Science degree in Gerontology from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. 

Erin Emery-Tiburcio


Dr. Erin Emery-Tiburcio is an Associate Professor of Geriatric & Rehabilitation Psychology and Geriatric Medicine at Rush University Medical Center, as well as Co-Director of the Rush Center for Excellence in Aging (aging.rush.edu). She is past-Chair of American Psychological Association Committee on Aging, and past-President of the Society for Clinical Geropsychology. Dr. Emery-Tiburcio is Co-Director of CATCH-ON, the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program based at Rush University Medical Center (www.catch-on.org). Dr. Emery-Tiburcio also co-directs the brand new Engage, Educate, Empower for Equity: E4, The Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Disparities in Aging at Rush (www.e4center.org).

Michele Karel, Co-Lead Lived Experiences Advisory Group


Michele Karel is a board certified geropsychologist who serves as National Mental Health Director, Geriatric Mental Health, in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of  Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. She coordinates the integration of mental health services in several VHA Geriatrics and Extended Care programs and partners on initiatives to optimize access to and quality of mental health services for older Veterans. 

Shannon Skowronski


Shannon Skowronski is the Team Lead in the Office of Nutrition and Health Promotion Programs, within the U.S. Administration for Community Living’s (ACL), Administration on Aging (AoA).  For over a decade, she has provided subject-matter expertise for AoA senior leadership, as well as managed a portfolio of federal grants focused on healthy aging.  Previously, Ms. Skowronski served as a health policy analyst with RTI International. A former McGregor Geriatric Fellow, Ms. Skowronski holds Masters in Public Health and Masters of Social work degrees from the University of Michigan. 

Robert Walker


Rob Walker, MS CPS COAPS works for the Mass Department of Mental Health Office of Recovery and Empowerment, responsible for providing a bridge from the Department to provider agencies, persons receiving services, family members and the community at large. Mr. Walker is a person with lived experience of a mental health diagnosis, which informs all areas of his work. Areas of involvement include; Transitional Age Youth, Older Adults, the Deaf community, supporting and expanding the statewide peer workforce, and DMH efforts around Race, Equity, and Inclusion. Rob has worked on developing peer enhanced peer-led emergency services, peer bridging from DMH Inpatient facilities, Certified Older Adult Peer Specialists, Parent Peer Specialists, Buried in Treasures peer-facilitated Hoarding support, Forensic Peer Specialists, and with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and MassHealth, developing the Certified Older Adult Peer Specialist program in MA. Mr. Walker is the Co-Chairperson of the statewide Elder Mental Health Collaborative.

Eric Weakly


Eric Weakly is the Western Branch Chief in the Division of State and Community Systems Development, Center for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Division manages the Mental Health Block Grant, which provides funds and technical assistance to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 6 Pacific jurisdictions. Grantees use the funds to provide comprehensive, community-based mental health services to adults with serious mental illnesses and to children with serious emotional disturbances and to monitor progress in implementing a comprehensive, community-based mental health system. Prior to his work at SAMHSA, Eric was a project officer at the Administration for Community Living working on the No Wrong Door/ADRC, Inclusive Transportation, and Supported Decision Making projects. Eric has also led collaborative efforts at the local level on mental health and long-term services and support programs. Prior to work in administration, Eric worked as a social worker with older adults and families. 

Joan Weiss


Joan Weiss, PhD, RN, CRNP, FAAN is an adult and gerontological nurse practitioner who serves as the Deputy Director in the Division of Medicine and Dentistry (DMD) at the Health Resources and Services Administration. She oversees all phases of management for workforce development in geriatrics, primary care, graduate medical education, preventive medicine/public health, and oral health. She advises on the development of performance measures for HRSA’s DMD education and training programs. Her experience in interprofessional practice and education spans 30 years. She is the immediate past Designated Federal Official for the Federal Advisory Committee on Interdisciplinary Community-Based Linkages. She is the HRSA representative on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Care, and Services; the Family Caregiving Advisory Council; and the Grandparent Advisory Council. She also serves on HHS interagency workgroups on palliative care, elder justice, and caregiving. She has served in many leadership positions at HRSA including Director of the Division of Public Health and Interdisciplinary Education and Acting Director of the Division of Nursing. She is a recipient of the 2015 Secretary’s Meritorious Group Award for taking important steps to find a cure and improve care for people with dementia. 

NCOA Program Staff

Susan Stiles


Susan Stiles, PhD
Senior Director, Healthy Aging Innovations

Laura B. Plunkett


Laura B. Plunkett is a Program Specialist with the Center for Healthy Aging at the National Council on Aging. In this role, she works with chronic disease self-management education and fall prevention grantees across the country to provide information, support, and resources to strengthen, expand, and sustain the delivery of evidence-based programs. Prior to joining NCOA, Laura spent four years at an Area Agency on Aging in North Carolina, where she coordinated the implementation of evidence-based health promotion programs in 12 counties. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Bachelor of Social Work from North Carolina State University and a Master’s degree in Public Health from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She’s a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and Certified Health Coach (CHC). Her professional interests include the integration of community-based services and healthcare, sustainability of evidence-based programs, and continuum of care efforts. 

Binod Suwal


Binod Suwal is a Senior Manager at the Center for Healthy Aging, National Council on Aging (NCOA). He manages the general office administration of the Center. He works closely with the Center Staff, Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging (ACL/AoA), and Partners on CDSME and Falls Prevention grant-related matters. He also manages consulting contracts and budget of the Center and provides administrative support to the Center staff, as needed. He has been with the NCOA since 2001.

Dorothea K. Vafiadis


Dorothea K. Vafiadis, M.S., FAHA, is the Director of the Center for Healthy Aging at the National Council on Aging (NCOA) where she oversees two national resource centers focusing on falls prevention and chronic disease management programs, driving social impact and improving health and wellness for older adults at the community level. Her experience of more than 20 years in public health and non-profit organizations includes shaping policies and environments to promote health, establishing public and private partnerships and overseeing volunteer panels and non-profit boards. She currently leads NCOA’s 100 Million Healthier Lives Aging Hub initiative, a collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.  

Prior to joining NCOA, Ms. Vafiadis served as the National Director of Healthy Living for the American Heart Association (AHA), where she directed strategy for systems change at the program and policy levels. She played a major role in the creation of the HEALTHY FOR GOOD initiative, a consumer campaign delivering science-based recommendations to drive behavior change and reach millions of Americans. At AHA, Ms. Vafiadis forged partnerships with multinational food companies and co-developed initiatives, including an annual leadership summit-series designed to transform the food supply and promote healthier foods and better health outcomes. One such effort resulted in a successful five year, multi-million dollar initiative called Healthy for Life® 20 By 20 with Aramark Corp, serving underserved communities across the country and improving their diet quality.  

Prior to joining AHA, Ms. Vafiadis served as a Nutritionist in the Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she co-led a team of scientists deliberating on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ms. Vafiadis is a member of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Food Forum. 

Kathleen Zuke


Kathleen Zuke was privileged to grow up with eight loving grandparents and developed a passion for supportive services for older adults as a caregiver for her grandfather. She has been a Senior Program Manager with the Center for Healthy Aging since 2015. In this role, she works collaboratively with community-based partners across the country to identify, implement, and sustain evidence-based programs that support older adults in staying well and aging in the community, including chronic disease self-management education, falls prevention, and behavioral health. She has a Master’s degree in Public Health from Hunter College and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.