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OAMHAD Steering Committee

The Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day (OAMHAD) Steering Committee members have met regularly since August 2023 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 7th Annual Older Adult Awareness Day (OAMHAD) Symposium. 

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

Kathleen A. Cameron, Co-Chair


Kathleen A. Cameron, BS Pharm, MPH has over 30 years of experience in the health care and gerontology fields as a pharmacist, researcher, and program director focusing on health promotion and disease prevention, geriatric pharmacotherapy, mental health, long-term services and supports, and caregiving. Ms. Cameron is Senior Director at the National Council on Aging (NCOA) where she serves as subject matter expert on a variety of health-related topics, including mental health and aging, and oversees the U.S. Administration on Aging-funded National Falls Prevention and Chronic Disease Self-Management Resource Centers, and the National Institute of Senior Centers. Her work supports policy and advocacy efforts at NCOA to promote systems change and improve health care and social service delivery for older adults. Ms. Cameron is currently the Chair of the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging. 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 challenges and solutions older adults. She has also held positions at the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists Foundation in the 2000s and the National Council on Aging in the late 1990s. Ms. Cameron received her BS degree in pharmacy from the University of Connecticut and her Master of Public Health degree from Yale University.  

​Keri Lipperini, Co-Chair


Keri Lipperini joined the Administration on Aging (AOA) as the Director of the Office of Nutrition and Health Promotion Programs, January 8, 2017.
Keri has over 20 years of experience developing programs in the Government and Non-Profit sector. Prior to joining AoA, Keri worked for a County Government in Maryland, where she served as the Program Manager. While there, she oversaw the Health Promotion and Nutrition programs. Additionally, she was instrumental in bringing evidence- based programming to the County.
Anyone who talks to Keri for more than 5 minutes, will know that she is a proud Navy Veteran. She was trained as a Hospital Corpsman taking the oath to care for sick sailors and marines. This is something she is extremely passionate about and still holds to after all these years. She has a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management and a master’s degree in Public Administration with a Health care focus. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering in her community, advocating for her fellow veterans, and baking for her family and friends.

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 dementia, chronic pain, behavioral health, caregiving, substance use disorders, older adult services and supports, quality measurement, and disability policy 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. Before her work at CMS, Ms. Blackwell was a consultant at the Horizon Foundation, a philanthropic organization promoting 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 founded the Autism Society of Maryland.  

Nicole Cadovius


Nicole Cadovius, MBA, MSM, CAPS and FAAIDD is the Director, Strategic Initiatives MHFA, for the National Council for Behavioral Health. She leads strategic initiatives for Mental Health First Aid USA expanding engagement opportunities and increasing awareness and implementation of the MFHA programs. She has led the mental health and substance use related projects as director and subject matter expert, including tasks elated to executing fiscal reports, training and technical assistance, grant and contract proposals, and supervision of staff. She also oversaw government, pharmacological, and State level grants, contracts, and subcontracts to ensure compliance, high quality relationship with funders, strategic oversight, and timely submission of deliverables.

Throughout Nicole’s career, her passion has been to create quality community-based programs and develop strong teams supporting older adults, individuals with substance use and mental health support needs throughout the life span and individuals with developmental disabilities. She is a national speaker on topics such as healthy aging and aging in place. Nicole serves as a member of several national boards, Steering Committee member, National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices, President of the Gerontology Division and Vice President of Region X, for the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Before joining the National Council, Ms. Cadovius, served as a Director of Programs & Services for community non-profit supporting individuals with developmental disabilities, Director of Communications and Strategy for a state agency, and a Regional Director and Executive Director of Skilled Nursing Facilities. Nicole began her career as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.

She holds a Master of Business Administration and Master of Business Management both from Albertus Magnus College and a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Connecticut.

Erin Emery-Tiburcio


Dr. Erin Emery-Tiburcio is a Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Geriatric Medicine, and Director of Geropsychology at Rush University Medical Center, as well as Co-Director of the Rush Center for Excellence in Aging, co-director of CATCH-ON, the HRSA-funded Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program based at Rush University Medical Center, and co-director of the E4 Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Disparities in Aging. She is past-Chair of the American Psychological Association Committee on Aging, past-President of the Society for Clinical Geropsychology, and currently co-chairs the APA taskforce to revise the APA Guidelines for Working with Older Adults.

Chris Herman


Chris Herman (she/her), MSW, LICSW, is the Senior Practice Associate–Aging at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in Washington, DC. In this role, she analyzes and advocating for aging-related federal policy; creates resources to enhance social work practice with older adults; provides technical assistance to NASW leaders, members, and other stakeholders; and represents NASW in numerous national coalitions and initiatives focused on older adults, including serving as an at-large member of the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging executive committee and contributing to the development of SAMHSA publications addressing older adult mental health and substance use. Before joining the NASW staff in 2007, Chris worked with adult clients in various aging, disability, and health settings. 

Robin Lee


Robin Lee, PhD, MPH, leads the Applied Sciences Branch (ASB) in the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control’s Division of Injury Prevention. ASB conducts surveillance, behavioral, and epidemiologic research to address unintentional and self-directed injuries, with a focus on the evaluation of trends and the assessment of environmental, social, behavioral, and other risk and protective factors, as well as the development and evaluation of intervention activities. The branch provides leadership, expert consultation, and technical assistance to federal, state, local, territorial, tribal, and non-governmental partners in addressing these injuries. Specific injury topics include suicide, traumatic brain injury, transportation safety, older adult falls, and drowning.

Dr. Lee’s contributions to the field of injury prevention include the development of the STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) initiative, which offers health care providers the tools and resources they need to integrate fall prevention into their clinical practice. STEADI also helps providers screen older patients for fall risk and assess their modifiable risk factors, while offering guidance on how to intervene to reduce patient risk using effective clinical interventions. Dr. Lee was integral in developing the Still Going Strong awareness campaign, which empowers older adults and their caregivers to take simple steps to reduce their risk of falls, motor vehicle crashes, and traumatic brain injuries to maintain their independence and age without injury.

Prior to joining NCIPC in 2012, Dr. Lee was the team lead for the Research Activities Team in the Division of Toxicology and Environmental Epidemiology, Environmental Epidemiology Branch at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). In this position, she managed and worked on several research and community-based health studies related to toxic substances, such as asbestos, arsenic, volatile organic compounds, dioxins, and mercury. From 2001 through 2003, she worked on food and water safety with CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health.

Dr. Lee is an epidemiologist with expertise in epidemiological methods. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in human biology, a Master of Public Health degree, and a doctorate in epidemiology from the State University of New York at Albany. She has coauthored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications, government reports, and book chapters and has received numerous awards for her work in public health service.  

Lily Liu


Lily Liu has beem the family caregiver for her mother who has had Parkinson’s Disease for 40+ years and early-stage dementia. She assumed full-time responsibility of the care for her mother after her father passed away more than a decade ago. 

Lily’s professional background is in corporate communications with expertise in public outreach and storytelling for impact. She worked for more than two decades at a national nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C. She founded its Asian-American Employee Resource Group (ERG). This staff affinity group, which Lily chaired for almost 15 years, won the 1999 Executive Director’s Award in the category of Diversity and Inclusion, and Lily also received this Award in the category of Leadership that year. 

Since Lily took a hiatus from the workplace in 2015, she has been participating (in-person and virtually) in outreach events around the country to share her family caregiving story. She has shared her lived experience with other family caregivers, healthcare professionals, university students and community partners. She is committed to empowering other family caregivers to seek out information and resources. 

As a 1.5-generation immigrant family caregiver, Lily also highlights how cultural heritage and a multicultural identity have a significant impact on a caregiving journey as well as on the physical, financial, emotional and mental health of a family caregiver. Her presentations are titled: “From the Dragging Daughter to the Dragon Daughter: Have Agency as an Empowered Family Caregiver!” 

Lily is the daughter of two retired educators originally from China. She immigrated to the United States as a child. She is fluent in speaking Mandarin Chinese and has had her translations of the essays of contemporary Chinese women writers published in journals in the United States and Asia. 

Emma Nye


Emma Nye is a Public Health Analyst in the Division of Disability and Aging of the Office of Behavioral Health, Disability, and Aging Policy, in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Ms. Nye is the lead for behavioral health and aging, including suicide prevention, the prevalence of behavioral health conditions, and the utilization and cost of behavioral healthcare among older adults. She leads research on the impact of Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act on mental health service use by older adults, and the unique needs of caregivers for people with behavioral health conditions. Ms. Nye also provides expertise on homelessness, elder abuse and neglect, and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Emma holds a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin.  

Karen Orsi


As Director of the Statewide Oklahoma Mental Health and Aging Coalition, Karen provides older adult behavioral health education and advocacy. She champions an approach to wellness as we age that includes both mental and physical health, and promotes the integration of the aging, mental health, disability and physical health networks. She has worked in, and with, both the aging and mental health networks and is a trainer and consultant for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Karen is the Vice Chair of the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging and Chair of the Behavioral Health Forum on Aging. She serves on the Oklahoma Behavioral Health Advisory Council, Multisector Plan on Aging Advisory Committee, New View Advisory Council, Edmond Advisory Council, Telligen’s Governing Board and a steering committee member for the Positive Aging Institute and the Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium. In collaboration with the E4 Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Disparities in Aging, she coordinated the Oklahoma Policy Academy.

She developed the Oklahoma Older Adult Behavioral Health State Plan, the Reducing Depression initiative, Aging 101, Aging 201 and the ODMHSAS Older Adult Peer Support Specialty. She is a certified trainer for QPR, Talk Saves Lives, Healthy IDEAS, Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health First Aid for Older Adults.

She was honored to testify before the Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on The Impact of Mental Health on Healthy Aging: Mental Health, Social Isolation and Loneliness.

Karen has a Sociology degree with a Psychology minor from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, and completed sociology graduate level course requirements at Chicago’s Loyola University. 

Christine Perez


Christine Suzette Pérez Jiménez was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She earned her Bachelor’s in Science (BS) degree in Industrial Microbiology and a Curricular Sequence in Food Science and Technology Program from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. On June 2016, she received a Master’s in Science (MS) degree with a concentration in Environmental Health from the School of Public Health of the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Science Campus. During graduate school, she participated in public health research such as environmental factors associated with health problems among older adults in Puerto Rico, worked in health database management, did literature research related to health issues, and participated in voluntary service at the environmental program of Veterans Affairs Caribbean Healthcare System in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Ms. Pérez participated as a Health Equity Fellow in the 2016 summer Youth Health Equity Model of Practice (YHEMOP) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health (OMH), in Rockville, MD. During the fellowship, Ms. Pérez placement site was at The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), headquartered in Washington, DC, and helped develop a literature review on the status of Hispanic older adults’ report that highlighted the health inequities among Hispanic older adults in the United States. 

Currently, Ms. Pérez is the Director of Programs at the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), a national organization that works to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers. Ms. Pérez has over 7 years’ experience as a program specialist and effectively implementing and managing social and public health programs that are used to boost fundraising, increase partner membership, enlist support from government agencies and corporations and to benefit older adults, their families, and caregivers. Ms. Pérez is passionate in working to reduce health disparities among the Hispanic community, particularly in older adults and for this population to age in the best possible health and dignity. Ms. Perez continues to be involved in community outreach with the Hispanic community. 

Kimberly Reynolds


Kim is a Public Health Advisor in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services Office of Policy Coordination and Innovation, where she focuses on the intersection of mental health and aging and/or disability, and leads agency initiatives related to the Olmstead Supreme Court decision. She possesses undergraduate and graduate degrees in Gerontology, as well as a Master’s in Public Administration. Kim began her career in direct services at a community mental health center, working with older adults with serious mental illness. She went on to run a nursing facility dementia unit, then moved to state government, where she oversaw aging, housing, and homeless programs for a state behavioral health authority, supervised a team responsible for licensing and performance improvement of behavioral health and Medicaid HCBS waiver service providers, and was the Single State Authority for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment. Kim has also worked in higher education, where she managed research, evaluation, and training projects focused primarily on mental health and aging. 

Katrina Trubilla


Ms. Katrina Trubilla is a third generation Veteran who has provided mental health and healthcare to military service members, Veterans, and their families for over 30 years. Throughout her career, Ms. Trubilla has successfully implemented multiple mental health and quality improvement programs throughout the VA and worked with many community partners and key stakeholders to continue to provide excellent care to Veterans and families. Currently, Ms. Trubilla is the Associate Director for Geriatric Mental Health in the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to this position, Ms. Trubilla served as the Chief of Social Work Services for VA Salt Lake City where she was instrumental in leading a team of over 180 multidisciplinary clinicians and supporting staff across the facility in delivering excellent, quality integrated care to Veterans and families.

Ms. Katrina Trubilla is board certified and licensed in Clinical Social Work and Marriage & Family Therapy in multiple states. She is a qualified clinical supervisor, providing clinical supervision to trainees across the nation. Ms. Trubilla holds an adjunct professorship and enjoys teaching courses in Ethics, Grief/Loss Across the Lifespan, and Clinical Diagnosis. When not working, Ms. Trubilla enjoys reading, traveling, baking, arts and crafts, and spending time with her family.  

Eric Weakly


Eric Weakly is the Chief of the State and Consumer Protection Grants Branch 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 Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG), 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. The Division also administers the Projects for Assistance in Transitions from Homelessness (PATH), the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) programs, the Community Mental Health Centers Grant (CMHC), the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP), the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Center for Excellence (HBCU-CFE), and the Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Disparities in Older Adults (COE-BH-OA). Prior to working at SAMHSA, Eric was a project officer at the Administration for Community Living and the Administration on Aging working with the No Wrong Door/Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Inclusive Transportation, and Supported Decision-Making projects. Eric also led programs at the local level in Illinois on mental health, long-term services and support, and protective services. Prior to work in administration, Eric worked as a social worker with older adults and their families and in-patient behavioral health. Eric holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois – Chicago, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Colorado State University. 

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 (HRSA). She oversees workforce development programs in geriatrics, primary care, graduate medical education, mental and behavioral health, health, preventive medicine/public health, and oral health. She is the subject matter expert 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 Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Advisory Council. She also serves on HHS interagency workgroups on palliative care, elder justice, and caregiving. She has held 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. She is the recipient of the 2022 HRSA Lifetime Achievement Award.  

NCOA Program Staff

Cristina Estrella


Cristina Estrella, CHES is a Program Specialist for the Center for Healthy Aging at the National Council on Aging. In this role, Cristina provides technical assistance to U.S. Administration for Community Living grantees implementing evidence-based falls prevention and chronic disease self-management education programs. Additionally, she assists in developing resources for professionals and older adults and coordination of the annual Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day Symposium. 

 Cristina began her career on the COVID-19 Containment and Mitigation team at the Alexandria Health Department where she conducted contact tracing, case investigation, outbreak reporting, and community outreach, and assisted in vaccine uptake initiatives. She holds a B.S. in Health Sciences and an M.S. in Public Health Education and Promotion from Marymount University. 

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.

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.