NISC Programs of Excellence 2020 Winners

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Join us for a series of webinars that will showcase the senior centers who are the winners of the annual NISC Programs of Excellence awards. Awardees will present their innovative programs and discuss how other senior centers can implement similar programs in their communities. 

There will be four webinars in total all featuring the winners from the various categories:

  • September 29, 2021 at 1pm EST: Technology and Virtual Category Winners
  • October 27, 2021 at 1pm EST: Health & Wellness and Community Development Category Winners
  • November 17,2021 at 1pm EST: Cultural and Special Events Category Winners
  • January 19,2022 at 1pm EST: Nutrition Category Winners

Select the Content tab above for more detailed information about each webinar.

Registration Details:

  • Registration is FREE, and registrants will have access to both the live webinars and the recordings. 
  • After registering, you will receive a confirmation email, as well as email reminders prior to each live webinar with a link to join the event.
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    Senior centers across the country are offering virtual and online programs to help older adults stay connected during the pandemic. These NISC Programs of Excellence winners will showcase their creative approaches to both virtual and online programming. The event will feature the following four programs: 1. Forsyth County Senior Services: Connect with T.E.C.H. (Technology Education and Community Help); 2. Duxbury Senior Center: The PAC TV Guide; 3. Dracut Council on Aging: At Home Grab and Go Events; 4. Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia: The Art of Healthy Aging

    Senior centers have responded to the realities of life during the pandemic with innovative ways to keep their members connected, engaged, and inspired. Join us in learning about how four centers provided a range of programs and themed events for their community that served to address social isolation, reduce the digital divide, provide healthy aging education, and—most importantly—bring joy to people’s lives.

    The event will feature the following four programs:

    1. Forsyth County Senior Services: Connect with T.E.C.H. (Technology Education and Community Help)
    2. Duxbury Senior Center: The PAC TV Guide
    3. Dracut Council on Aging: At Home Grab and Go Events
    4. Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia: The Art of Healthy Aging

    The event will be moderated by Anahita Feltz (Manager, Silver Linings at Old Bridge) and Laura Kopp (President/CEO at CASI—Center for Active Seniors).

    online celebration

    Ruthie Brew, MM, CPRP


    Forsyth County Senior Services

    Ruthie is a dedicated aging services professional with a history of accomplishment in both nonprofit and governmental organizations. She has strong administration and program development skills, resulting in organizational capacity building. In addition, she has expertise in community program development and center management - operations, service delivery, volunteers, community partnerships, and marketing. Most importantly, she is passionate about helping older adults age well in the community, finding joy and purpose in their lives.

    Joanne Moore


    Duxbury Senior Center

    Joanne Moore has 25 years’ experience working with older adults in a variety of community and non-profit settings. She is the Director of the Duxbury Senior Center and has successfully led her team through three National Accreditations. She is a past president of the Massachusetts Council on Aging (MCOA) and a current Board Member and Certification Chair. Joanne serves as a member Massachusetts Falls Commission and the NISC Learning Collaborative. She is a master trainer for both "A Matter of Balance" and the "UCLA Memory" programs and was instrumental in introducing these program resources to Massachusetts senior centers. Joanne holds a BS in Graphic Design and Business and a MS in Adult Learning and Development.

    Bethany Loveless

    Executive Director

    Dracut Council on Aging

    Jody Mazur

    Event Planner

    Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia

    With thirty years in family entertainment and educational programming, Jody Mazur joined Senior Services as their Event Coordinator in 2015. Initially her primary focus was their signature annual event, the Art of Healthy Aging Forum & Expo. This event brought together hundreds of older adults and caregivers with vendors, sponsors, educators, professionals, and supporters from the entire community, providing lectures, workshops, entertainment, and lunch, each year. She introduced a sister event in Western Tidewater and worked on other fundraising events and programs. With the limitations imposed by COVID 19, Ms. Mazur was part of team that took the Art of Healthy Aging Summer Series into the virtual realm where Senior Services was able to expand its reach, delivering resources, entertainment, and information to its largest audience ever. 

    Anahita Feltz (Moderator)


    Silver Linings at Old Bridge

    Anahita Feltz is the manager of Silver Linings at Old Bridge, an Activity Center for Adults 60+ in Old Bridge, New Jersey. She serves as the chair of the Membership Committee for the National Institute of Senior Centers, while also being the NJ representative for the NISC Leadership Collaborative. Anahita has also been a Peer Reviewer for 5 years and her center just received its second accreditation. Locally, she serves on the Active Adult Committee of the New Jersey Recreation and Parks Association. She hopes to revive a State Association of Senior Centers in New Jersey in the near future. On her downtime, she enjoys hiking, rock climbing, playing tennis, cooking and volunteering.


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    This webinar will feature the NISC Program of Excellence 2020 Winner in the Health & Wellness and Community Development category.

    This webinar will feature the NISC Program of Excellence 2020 Winners in the Health & Wellness and Community Development category. 

    This webinar will feature the following programs: 

    • Community Development – Winner

    Senior Activity Center Parade: Developing and Expanding Community Relations, Southlake Senior Activity Center, Southlake, TX

    Speaker: Soheila Phelps

    •  Community Development – Honorable Mention

    Community First Meal Program, Groton Senior Center, Groton, CT

    Speaker: Mary Jo Riley

    • Health & Wellness - Winner

    Bridges Health Winona, Winona Friendship Center, Winona, MN

    Speaker: Laura Hoberg

    • Health & Wellness - Honorable Mention

    Journaling with Julie, Bykota Senior Center, Towson, MD

    Speaker: Julie Lynn

    Soheila Phelps

    Senior Services Coordinator

    Southlake Senior Activity Center

    Soheila Phelps is the Senior Services Coordinator for the City of Southlake for over 8 years. Prior to this position, ran a non-profit organization for the City, providing free transportation to seniors and disabled adults residing in Southlake.  She is an active member of Texas Recreation And Parks Society (TRAPS) and Vice Chair of Leisure and Aging Branch of TRAPS. She has been a recipient of Lone Star Recreation Programming Award from TRAPS.  She is a proud wife and mother of 2 young men.  Soheila considers serving the senior community as one of her most rewarding careers to date. 

    Laura Hoberg

    Recreation Coordinator

    Winona Friendship Center

    Laura Hoberg began working for the city in 2016 following the completion of her degree in Sociology and Gerontology from Winona Sate. Laura works as a Recreation Coordinator at the Friendship Center in Winona, MN creating and supporting programs for area older adults, coordinating volunteers, promoting intergenerational engagement, supporting part-time staff, and more.

    When Laura isn’t getting the job done, she enjoys growing vegetables, making her own clothes, baking, cooking, trying out hobbies, learning new skills, cross-country skiing, and walking her dog.

    Mary Jo Riley

    Senior Center Supervisor

    Groton Senior Center

    Mary Jo Riley started her career working in the health and fitness fields heading the wellness division at a local hospital.  In the mid 1990’s a change at the hospital changed her direction to working the Groton Senior Center starting in 1995.  Mary Jo has applied her knowledge of health and fitness in Groton, worked on expanding the size of the center to include additional classrooms, technology center, fitness center and exercise rooms.  Her most recent efforts were assessing why older adults do not utilize their local senior center and foraging ahead with a name change to address one of the primary perceptions about senior centers and to take away that barrier.  Mary Jo has been a resident of Southeastern Connecticut most of her life and someday will look forward to retirement.

    Julie Lynn


    Bykota Senior Center

    Jenna Hauss (Moderator)

    President & CEO


    Jenna has spent the past decade working with older adults and is dedicated to the continued growth of enhancing community-based services to best meet the demands of a growing population. Jenna has worked as a Social Worker and leader in the community in a variety of clinical and community based settings. With her experience practicing in both a health and community setting, Jenna’s most recent efforts included the implementation of various Community Based Programs including Complex Home Based Case Management and Housing Prevention programs for older adults.  In 2018, Jenna became the Director of Strategic Initiatives & Community Based Services, supporting the executive leadership in their strategic vision and grant development opportunities throughout ONEgeneration. Her most recent transition to President & CEO in January 2021, Jenna now leads the direction and growth opportunities that lay ahead for the organization, concentrating around supporting our most vulnerable communities. Jenna received her Bachelors in Social Work from California State University Northridge and her Masters in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach. 

    Lori Oertel (Moderator)

    Older Adult & Volunteer Supervisor

    Menomonee Falls Community Education & Recreation

    Lori Oertel is the Older Adult & Volunteer Supervisor with Menomonee Falls Community Education & Recreation Department in Wisconsin. She oversees the programs, trips and events at the senior center. Lori has been with the department for 9 years and is a member of WASC (Wisconsin Association of Senior Centers), NCOA, NISC, WPRA, and NRPA. The senior center is accredited by their state organization, WASC. Lori joined the WASC Board as a District Representative in 2019 and then became the WASC President in 2021 - current. 

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    This webinar will feature the NISC Program of Excellence 2020 Winner in the Cultural and Special Events category.

    This webinar will feature the NISC Program of Excellence 2020 Winner in the Cultural and Special Events category.

    This webinar will feature the following programs: 

    • Cultural – Winner

    Festival of the Arts, City of Calabasas Senior Center, Calabasas, CA

    Speaker: Kimberly Post


    • Cultural -- Honorable Mention

    An Afternoon with Mr. Branch Morgan III: Entertainment Today, but Survival of Yesterday. A Cultural Look from the Past, Essex Senior Center, Baltimore, MD

    Speaker: Mike Hager


    • Special Events – Winner

    From Parking Lot to Party Lot! Enriching the Well-Being of Older Adults, Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, Santa Clarita, CA

    Speaker: Kevin MacDonald 


    • Special Events –Honorable Mention

    You’ve Been Flocked, Pikesville Senior Center, Pikesville, MD

    Speaker: Nancy Schwartz

    Nancy Schwartz

    Regional Director

    Pikesville Senior Center

    I have been with the Baltimore County Department of Aging for 13 years. I started out as a Center Connection Specialist, working with senior center members who required extra assistance in making the most of their senior center experience. I have been the Director of the Pikesville Senior Center for nearly five years. Pikesville is one of nine Regional Centers within the Department of Aging’s twenty senior centers. I am passionate about serving the senior citizen population and regard it a privilege to work for the Baltimore County Department of Aging.

    Cydnee Sims (Moderator)

    Programs and Operations Manager

    Robert and Pearl Seymour Center

    Cydnee Sims, is the Programs and Operations Manager of the National Accredited Robert and Pearl Seymour Center located in Chapel Hill, NC. She is a 2018 NISC Program of Excellence winner and 2017 NC Senior Center Alliance Senior Center of the Year recipient. She shares 20 years of mature adult programming and has great interest in promoting and highlighting senior center programs on the local, state and national level. She currently serves as a member of the NISC Best Practice Committee assisting with program submissions and judging.   

    Mike Hager

    Center Director

    Essex Senior Center

    Mike Hager is currently the Center Director of the Essex Senior Center, a position he has held for the past 5 years. He has been working for the Baltimore County Department of Aging for 15 years. He received his bachelor’s degree in History from the University Maryland Baltimore County.

    Kimberly Post

    Senior Center Supervisor

    Calabasas Senior Center

    Kimberly Post oversees the daily operation of the Calabasas Senior Center, coordinating all the events and activities, supervising the staff, and ensuring the comfort and safety of seniors as they enjoy classes. Kimberly has been with the City of Calabasas since 2006 and became Supervisor of the Calabasas Senior Center when it opened in 2016. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management from California State University, Fresno.

    Kevin MacDonald

    Chief Executive Officer

    Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center

    Kevin MacDonald was hired as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center in July 2016 and has led the organization through a major expansion of services including the construction and opening of a new Senior Center in 2019 and through the Covid pandemic.  The Center provides Meals on Wheels for both Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys.

    MacDonald started his career serving people with developmental disabilities with The Arc organization when he was 18 years old.  He became CEO for The Arc of Los Angeles County at 27 years old where he served for 24 years.

    Kevin has a Bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio and an MBA with a concentration in Public/Nonprofit Management from the University of California at Berkeley.

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    This webinar will feature the NISC Program of Excellence 2020 Winner in the Nutrition category.

    This webinar will feature the NISC Program of Excellence 2020 Winner in the Nutrition category.

    This webinar will feature the following programs: 

    • Nutrition – Winner

    Natick Community Organic Farm and Senior Center, Natick Community Senior Center, Natick, MA

    Speaker: Susan Ramsey


    • Nutrition -- Honorable Mention

    The Mini Lunch Program, Milford Senior Center, Milford, CT

    Speaker: Leonora C Rodriguez

    Susan Ramsey

    Senior Center and Community Services Director

    Town of Natick, MA

    Susan Ramsey is the Senior Center and Community Services Director for the Town of Natick, MA. During her professional career Susan has held senior management positions in human services and government most notably with the Boston Commission on Affairs of the Elderly and the Age Center of Worcester. A tireless advocate and innovator she has launched programs to meet emerging needs of elders and those who care for them. As a member of Natick's Community Services leadership team, she lends her perspective to discussions and advises departments on aging matters, community engagement and outreach to underserved constituents.

    Leonora Rodriguez

    Executive Director

    Milford Senior Center

    Leonora C. Rodriguez is the Executive Director of the Milford Senior Center, a 2000+ membership-based senior center located in Milford, CT. She previously worked in recreation for healthcare settings for 15 years before transitioning to her current role. She believes engagement in social activities is key to overall older adult wellness and that conscientious living leads to healthy aging. Leonora has a Master's in Gerontology and is pursuing her PhD in Health-Related Sciences in Gerontology. Leonora enjoys teaching Spanish and ukulele classes at the senior center as well as creating art on her free time.  

    Malia Fox (Moderator)

    Former Director

    Winona Friendship Center

    Malia has a Bachelor’s of Art degree in Music Therapy from the College of St. Teresa, Winona, MN.

    Malia began her career as a music therapist in long term care on a memory care unit and worked privately as a music therapist with clients living with developmental disabilities. She worked in long term care as Director of Therapies for 10 years before moving to the City of Winona Park Recreation department as the Director of the Winona Friendship Center for the past 28 years. Malia is on the NCOA/NISC Executive committee as Best Practices chairperson. The Friendship Center is Minnesota’s only nationally accredited senior center.

    Malia has enjoyed an adjunct position in gerontology instructing classes at her local university. Malia’s goal at the beginning of her career was to create places/spaces that empowered older adults and would be a place that she would like to go when she aged into that place. Well here she is and is looking forward to the next chapter!

    Laura Kopp (Moderator)


    Center for Active Seniors, Inc

    Laura is a passionate, energetic professional focused on building a strong community in the Quad Cities, Iowa. She has worked for over 20 years empowering others to achieve their maximum potential. Her goal is to create a strong, collaborative social service system in the Quad Cities, where all individuals can achieve their goals.