Kari Rogenski, RDT, MA, LMFT (#102199)
Director of the Hummingbird Project
BA Theatre Performance, University of Lethbridge; MA Counseling Psychology Drama Therapy, California Institute of Integral Studies
Kari’s love of elders began as a child, and spending time with her three Grandmothers or Grandfather was always a joy. Kari combined her passion for eldercare and the creative arts by becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist and registered drama therapist working with elders. She brings 10 years of experience to her role as Director of The Hummingbird Project and co-creator of Joyful Moments: Meaningful Activities to Engage Older Adults. She is a proud advocate for the importance of finding and embracing joy throughout life. She has presented to both professional and public audiences locally and nationally about Quality of Life and Life Enrichment for older and disabled adults, including the Aging Life Care Professional Association, the North American Drama Therapy Association and several presentations for the Alzheimer’s Association, among others. It is Kari’s creative and professional approach, as well as her warm personality, that allows her to connect with clients and engage them in meaningful therapeutic activities. Kari’s passion for theatre has been infused into her education and career. Some of her favorite activities to share with older adults include expressive arts such as life story collage, art appreciation, touch drawing, creative storytelling, legacy projects and more. From December 2017- 2019 Kari will be acting Vice President of the North American Drama Therapy Association (http://www.nadta.org/) where she will play an integral role promoting the profession of drama therapy in both the United States and Canada. Kari is also honored to serve as treasurer of Creative Aging San Francisco (http://www.creativeagingsf.or
Meredith Eden, MA
Lead Activity Specialist
BA Drama, San Francisco State University; MA Counseling Psychology, California Institute of Integral Studies; MA Drama Theory and Devised Performance, San Francisco State University
Meredith has over ten years’ experience working in the theatre world and has transitioned over the last four years into using her skills for therapeutic forms of expression. She has interned at California Pacific Medical Centers’ SNF unit and Alzheimer’s residential facility. Meredith is honored to be a part of Sage, where she is enthusiastic about working collaboratively on the collective goal of quality of life for the elderly population in our community. Since childhood, she spent many hours at her grandparents’ community, which built awareness of the wisdom and stories the elder population embody. She received her Bachelor’s in Drama (Performance) from San Francisco State University where she went on to complete her Master’s in Drama Theory with a concentration in Directing and Devised Theatre. She holds a second Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology (Drama Therapy) from California Institute of Integral Studies. She is furthering her education and training through the Developmental Transformation Institute for drama therapy based in New York. Meredith’s training in improvised and devised theatre is a catalyst for her passion of creative approaches to achieve rich quality of life for both her clients and the community she serves. The heart of her practice is to think outside of the box while attuning to the desires, interests and needs of her clients.
Ashley Leonard, BA
BA Psychology, Saint Louis University ; MA in Marriage and Family Therapy candidate, Notre Dame de Namur University; MA in Art Therapy candidate, Notre Dame de Namur University
Ashley has experience as an activity coordinator in assisted living and memory care settings. Her passion for creating art influences the work that she does with seniors and older adults. She has experience facilitating art therapy for groups and individuals of all ages as well. Some of her favorite activities to engage in are community outings to art museums and exhibits and incorporating time for individual art responses to the outing. Ashley is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. The program prepares students for a Marriage and Family Therapy License and to become a Registered Art Therapist.
Nancy Bess, MS
BS History, Texas Women’s University; MS Gerontology, University of Massachusetts at Boston
Nancy has spent more than a decade in a rewarding an dynamic career leading senior and memory care activity programs. Along with her activity programming experience she has also created and facilitated health and educational programs in the community. Her love and knowledge of history, literature, writing, and art are woven into her curriculum. Nancy also employs empathy and creativity to connect with clients and foster meaningful and therapeutic activities. Storytelling and autobiography in written and art form are examples of activities that Nancy loves to share with her clients.
Jennifer Verdu, CTRS
BS Nutritional Science, San Jose State University
In 2008, Jennifer began working at Masonic Homes of California’s Skilled Nursing Facility as a Recreation Leader. She’s a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and Senior Fitness Instructor with almost 8 years of programming experience. Jennifer has worked as Lifestyles Manager for Acacia Creek CCRC and managed all aspects of the lifestyles programs. She has spent the last few years working as an Activity Coordinator for Avenidas Rose Kleiner Adult Day Health Center. Jennifer’s ultimate goal is to create purposeful programs that enrich the lives of seniors.
Keesje Fischer, BA
BFA Painting, Utrecht School of Fine Arts, The Netherlands; BA, Pomona College
Keesje comes to the field of Aging through caring for her grandmother and volunteering in her New York nursing home as a TimeSlips storytelling facilitator. She has worked as an Activity Specialist in skilled nursing facilities and Assisted Living Residences for more than 8 years, most recently as Activities Program Manager for Memory Care Unit of Rhoda Goldman Plaza. Encouraging creative expression is inspiring, fun, and surprising, too. In her work with elders, Keesje loves that she learns something every day.
Susan Martelino, MA
BA in Psychology, Upper Iowa University; MA Marriage and Family Therapy, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
Susan has been involved with the elderly since 2000 when she became a caregiver in Des Moines, IA. Her genuine interest to work with the elderly continued after she became a Massage Therapist in St. Paul, MN; this included working in a nursing facility, hospice care, and contract work, all of which emphasized geriatric modalities in regard to massage. Susan chose a practicum when earning her masters in Marriage and Family Therapy in Minneapolis that emphasized the elderly. It was there that she led a women’s group, provided recreational support, and worked individually with those who held a more specific need for confidentiality. Susan believes there is a myth among society that once you reach a certain age, you no longer have desires, goals, aspirations, or the need for relationships. She would like to help debunk that way of thinking and bring to light that no matter what age, people still desire the need to be acknowledged, loved, and contribute to society.
Liz Nichols, MA
BA Asian Studies, Brown University; MA Asian Studies, Stanford University; CA Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, San Francisco State
Liz has an eclectic background in education and communication, and strives to bring the Power of Fun – the value of play and creative expression – to folks at every stage of life. She has more than 10 years of professional experience working with seniors, including 4 years as Storytelling Director of Stagebridge, the nation’s oldest senior theater company, in Oakland. She is a Master Trainer and Facilitator of TimeSlips, a storytelling method developed specifically for people with memory loss. Liz is a certified Laughter Yoga Leader, and finds that laughter for health, without need of jokes or humor, can bring energy and joy to anyone. Helping others try something new is what keeps her growing and thriving too.
Tiffany Paige, BFA
Lead Activity Specialist – Sacramento
BFA Design, Parsons School of Design
Tiffany applies her 17 years of professional art and design experience to sharing creativity as a means to connect the heart and mind of individuals in their elder years. Moved by the loss of her grandfather to Alzheimer’s, in 2010 she started pursuing her vision to bring the healing properties of art and imagination to the lives of others living with the illness.
She launched and directs Artisan Mind and its affiliate, ARTZ Sacramento —both nonprofits dedicated to offering creative experiences that serve as gateways to accessing lost memories, reclaiming a sense of dignified self, and healing the symptoms often associated with dementia. For more information about Artisan Mind, please visit www.ArtisanMind.org. Today, at the Hummingbird Project, Tiffany continues to be devoted to nurturing creative thinking and inspiration in a way that sparks the very life in the hearts of those she serves. Tiffany is leading the development of The Hummingbird Project’s Sacramento region and is excited to provide clients with enriching experiences that are brimming with purpose, meaning and connectedness.
Kim Peloso, MPH
BS Adult Health/Wellness, University of South Carolina; MPH, University of South Carolina
Kim has more than 15 years of professional experience working with seniors and spent ten years as a volunteer coordinating an Intergenerational program in her community. She has served as Director of the Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Columbia, SC, The Alzheimer’s Activity Center in San Jose, CA and the Ruth Ann Rosenberg Adult Day Healthcare Center in San Francisco, CA. Kim has hands on experience working with older adults, as well as experience in program development, staff training, consulting and management.
Kim’s outgoing and warm personality allow her to freely connect with seniors, quickly building a trusting relationship. Her passion lies in guiding memory-impaired individuals through all aspects of daily life. She has a special focus on maintaining familiar routines and creating opportunities for participation in pursuits that are meaningful to the individual.
Miyoko M. Nida, MA
BA Ethnic Studies/Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University; MA Counseling Psychology with specialization in Expressive Art Therapy, California Institute of Integral Studies; Certificate in Digital Design and Production, SFSU, College of Extended Learning
Miyoko has worked in the mental health field for ten years, including work with older adults in private residencies, group homes and skilled nursing facilities. As an Activity Specialist, she is excited to engage expressive arts, creativity and multiculturalism to provide enriching quality of life services. Miyoko supports individuals in creative ways in which words may not be the primary form of communication. She is a doctoral student in Transformative Studies at CIIS. Her research focus uses a transdisciplinary approach to intergenerational trauma and the arts.
Sonia Shell, BA
BA Humanities, New College of California
Sonia has worked many years in an adult day care setting with clients who are developmentally disabled, physically frail or have dementia. She has also spent many years teaching and performing on guitar, cello and banjo. She has recorded and toured with several bands and is currently in a Bossa Nova Duet. She brings her joy of music to Sage. Sonia is a credentialed teacher of Alexander Technique, and has spent many years working in a physical therapy setting. She loves writing, poetry, travel, animals, kids, and of course elders!
Alicia Hadley, BFA
Activity Specialist – Sacramento
BFA Painting and Drawing, University of Utah
Alicia’s love of art and variety started at an early age while growing up in the Middle East, surrounded by a diversity of ethnicities and artistic cultures. The desire to focus that energy into working with seniors with dementia started soon after Alicia’s grandmother, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, moved in with Alicia’s family.
Now, Alicia has over 19 years of experience that includes volunteering with hospice and the Alzheimer’s Association as well as working in Adult Day programs, Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities. She also managed a Memory Care Community for over 10 years.
Alicia believes that some of the most profound and meaningful lessons she has learned have come from people who are living with dementia. She highly values what they have to offer the world. She is both determined and excited to help find the individual bridges that help older adults connect with life and defy their mental or physical concerns.