Our Team

We are an experienced team of creative arts therapists, teaching artists, recreation therapists, and gerontologists. Through our extensive knowledge of holistic quality of life and the seven wellness domains, we cultivate joy, engage curiosity, and foster personal expression. Our goal is to increase your loved one’s or client’s quality of life through therapeutic activity that is purposeful and meaningful.

Each team member is a seasoned therapeutic activity specialist with a range of experience to serve every individual, client, or group. We are passionate about working with people living with memory loss (including those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia).


Kari Rogenski, 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 grandparents was a joy. Grandma’s house was always Kari’s favorite place to be.

Kari combined her passion for eldercare and the creative arts by becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist and creative arts therapist working with elders. She brings well over a decade 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 several presentations for the Alzheimer’s Association, the Aging Life Care Professional Association, and the North American Drama Therapy 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. She has expertise in facilitating drama therapy techniques including improvisation, monologue writing, and play reading. 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.


Jessica Castech, BS, CTRS

Jessica CastechHummingbird Project Program Coordinator
BS Recreation Therapy, California State University East Bay; CTRS, The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification

Jessica has always had a passion for the outdoors and recreation, and she has turned to it many times throughout her life to help her ground and refocus herself when going through hard times. It was much more than a passion for her; it was her life preserver. Having spent a lot of time both enjoying and working in recreation, Jessica came to the realization that there were certain communities that did not have the same access to recreation as she did. From that point on Jessica made it her mission to work with these communities and help to provide equitable resources and activities so that everyone could reap the benefits of leisure activities. This is what led to her degree in Recreation Therapy.

While studying, Jessica was placed in an internship at an acute geriatric psychiatric facility. It was her first time working not only in a clinical setting, but with older adults as well. After just one day on the job, she fell in love with the geriatric community. She went on to complete her 600-hour internship and enjoyed it so much she decided to stay on as the Recreation Coordinator for the unit. She was inspired by her interactions with many of the patients on the unit and decided to develop a program that centered on gratitude. Gratitude became a huge focus for Jessica, and she now teaches gratitude practices and the benefits they have on the mind, body, and soul.

Gratitude and inclusion are at the core of everything Jessica strives to do. That is what brought her to Sage and the Hummingbird Project, with its mission to promote quality of life for older adults and to cultivate joy, curiosity, and personal expression with a holistic approach to care.

San Francisco and Peninsula

Meredith Eden, RDT, MA (2), LMFT (#116558)

Meredith EdenHummingbird Project Manager – Santa Clara County and Sacramento
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 Master’s 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.


Steven Hardy, MA, MT-BC

Steven HardyHummingbird Project Manager – San Francisco and San Mateo Counties

Originally from New England, Steve has enjoyed a career in Aging Services in the Bay Area for more than 20 years. As a child, Steve was always excited to visit his grandparents and enjoy the warmth and connection he felt in their home. There was a sense of unconditional love, wisdom, and appreciation when he was in the presence of older adults. In his educational pursuits, Steve combined an interest in music/vocal performance with a deep desire to understand human relationships and received degrees in both Psychology and the Expressive Therapies. One of Steve’s favorite experiences was directing a performance of the musical Carousel in a large retirement/memory care community. He has seen how engaging in artistic endeavors and creative processes brings passion and joy to the people he has served. Steve has particularly enjoyed being an engaged collaborator, coach, therapist, and mentor in the areas of Aging, Human Services, and Memory Care/Dementia Program Development.


Katrina Zosseder, BA, BM

Activity Specialist
BA Anthropology, Lawrence University; BM Vocal Performance, Lawrence University

Katrina’s goal is to bring joy to older adults through compassionate interaction and creative engagement with music. Using her background as a professional musician and work with older adults in choirs and in community settings for over 10 years, she strives to help people find joy in the little things. Katrina has conducted anthropological studies on a range of topics and uses these skills to help clients further explore their interests and pursue lifelong learning projects. Katrina’s kind, empathetic personality also helps her find a connection with people.


Keesje Fischer, BA

Keesje FischerActivity Specialist
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.


Kim Peloso, MPH

kimpelosoActivity Specialist
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, PhDc

Miyoko-Nida-smlActivity Specialist
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’s passion for the arts has led her to learn ways to reach individuals on creative levels where words may not be the primary form of communication. Building trust with clients is her #1 goal, which allows individual pathways to the finest quality of life activities that create meaningful experiences. Miyoko is excited to engage the expressive arts, creativity, and multicultural aspects of self to provide enriching quality of life activities to older adults. Her multicultural background includes her Japanese ancestors immigrating to the Hawaiian Islands as far back as 1885, and her Irish/English ancestors settling in the Mid-Atlantic Region before the American Civil War.


Stephanie Navarro, MA

Activity Specialist
BS S
tudio Art, New York University; MA Transformative Art, JFK University

Stephanie finds meaningful connection in her passion for creativity and helping others, especially in person-centered care. She believes that the creative process can be a vehicle for positive change as well as contributing to one’s overall well-being.

Stephanie likes to explore various art mediums such as painting, clay, collage, and found objects in engaging others, and believes that there is no wrong way to do art. She enjoys learning from her clients’ life experiences and encourages all methods of creative self-expression.


Dominique Mirabella, BMUS, MT-BC

Dominique MirabellaActivity Specialist
BMUS Music Therapy, Arizona State University

Dominique has a passion for using music and other creative expressions to enrich the lives of older adults. Her focus has been providing quality of life services for hospice and palliative care clients in nursing homes, adult daycare facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and in-home settings. In her academic career, Dominique combined her love for music and supporting others by pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy and minor in Business. She started and directed the very first music program at her local YMCA camp in her home state of Colorado, which brought music-based activities to hundreds of children. At YMCA, she also volunteered and offered coping mechanisms through music for a handful of bereavement camp programs for grieving children. She later found a passion for drumming and received her certificate in HealthRhythms to lead group empowerment drum circles. Dominique is a board-certified Music Therapist. She sings, plays piano, ukulele, guitar, and percussion instruments. Her old-soul personality and energetic spirit help her easily connect with the community around her.


Fay Chunhui Tseng, MA

Fay Chunhui Tseng, MAActivity Specialist
MA Expressive Arts (emphasis in Music Therapy and Mental Health Counseling), Lesley University
BS Occupational Therapy, National Taiwan University

Fay is passionate about supporting her clients’ therapeutic goals for quality of life. Her warm and genuine personality allows her to establish therapeutic relationships with clients quickly and engage them in meaningful activities. Fay celebrates diversity and enjoys working with people from various cultures. Her training in occupational therapy, music therapy, and mental health counseling fosters a holistic approach to achieve an enriched quality of life for her clients. With a multidisciplinary background, Fay collaborates efficiently with team members and responsible parties to deliver high quality therapeutic activities. She sings, plays guitar and percussive instruments, and loves drumming and dancing. Some of her favorite activities to share with older adults include reminiscing, exercising or dancing with music, singing, playing instruments, music appreciation, and expressive arts.


Sarah Juster, BS

Sarah JusterActivity Specialist
BS Biology & Minor in Dance, University of California, Riverside
Certified Activity Program Leader, California Department of Public Health

Sarah comes from a multidisciplinary background, having studied both biological and social sciences. She found her passion to improve the quality of life for aging populations after volunteering at senior centers. Sarah decided to pursue a full-time career in therapeutic activities after graduation. Since then, she has served seniors in assisted living, memory care, and nursing homes across the Bay Area. She enjoys tailoring activities to fit the needs of each client’s unique life goals. Her favorite activities to share include sing-alongs, exercise through dance, aromatherapy, reminiscing, and trivia.


Suzanne Yau, MA, ATR-BC

Suzanne YauArt Therapist/Activity Specialist
MA Marriage and Family Therapy, Emphasis on Art Therapy, Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, CA

Suzanne’s warm and genuine demeanor creates a welcoming space for connection and engagement. She believes creativity and self-expression have the power to enhance the lives of every individual through all stages of life. Through empathic attunement and a focus on being in the moment, Suzanne strives to make each encounter meaningful and fulfilling. She is passionate about supporting each person’s therapeutic goals for quality of life by creating purposeful interventions and activities that fit each client’s distinct needs.

Over the past 10+ years, Suzanne has utilized her training as a Board-Certified Art Therapist to engage with individuals, families, and medical professionals. Much of her focus has been on medical art therapy in support of pediatric patients, families, and hospital staff. She started the Art Therapy Program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, where she helped to integrate creative arts therapies as a standard of care for pediatric patients. Suzanne continued her efforts to connect people to the healing power of art in her role as Executive Director of a non-profit focused on pediatric oncology families. Throughout her career, Suzanne has witnessed the impact art and creativity can have on one’s sense of well-being and quality of life. She looks forward to collaborating with individuals through the Hummingbird Project to foster self-expression and create moments of joy.


Heather Ladd

Heather LaddActivity Specialist
BS Recreation Therapy, Middle Tennessee State University

Heather has an outgoing, adventurous personality and has always enjoyed being outdoors. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Therapy, she moved to Colorado and wanted to help others realize how therapeutic nature can be—whether you’re hiking, climbing, or just having a picnic. After a few years of living in Colorado, she moved back home to Tennessee to be near her nieces and nephews. There she worked at Youth Villages, a residential treatment program for abused and neglected youth in Memphis. Heather loved working in an environment where she was able to be creative, play, and utilize her therapeutic skill set to help young people reintegrate into society. At Youth Villages, she set routes for climbing groups, put youth through workout circuits, and was part of an African Therapeutic Drumming course.

After an extended illness with Covid-19, Heather was unable to do many of the things required for day-to-day activities with youth. This difficult situation put things in perspective and reminded her to enjoy the little things life has to offer. She moved to San Jose and set out to find a job in the recreation therapy field. Thinking back to her internship working with adult and geriatric patients in a psychiatric hospital, she recalled her natural ability to connect with the geriatric patients. In that position, she particularly looked forward to group activities and getting to know what kind of treatment helped older patients’ quality of life. This makes her a perfect fit for Sage Eldercare Solutions and the Hummingbird Project. Heather is beyond excited to make a difference for those whose lives have been put on hold for an illness they cannot control, and to improve their overall quality of life.


Maritsa Jimenez, CTRS

Maritsa Jimenez, CTRSActivity Specialist
BS Recreational Therapy, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA

During her undergraduate career, Maritsa always knew she wanted to help people, she just did not know how or in what way. She began to research different paths, but none seemed a good fit. When a guest speaker came to talk about Recreational Therapy during one of her classes, she was immediately intrigued. She is now entering her third year as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and is thankful for a career in which she can enrich people’s lives through meaningful play. Maritsa assists in fulfilling people’s needs and improving their quality of life through different recreational outlets, including modalities such as art, exercise, music, deep breathing techniques, community outings, and more. She has had the privilege to help people with TBI, SCI, mood and psychiatric disorders, and developmental and intellectual disabilities to improve and cope with life through recreation. She continually strives to add to her recreational “toolbox” and expand her knowledge to adapt and fulfill the needs of those she serves.

Maritsa truly believes that as humans we are lifelong learners, so she continues her education by taking CEUs, exposing herself to new techniques, and working to understand people to better meet their needs. At Hope Senior Services, a day program offered to seniors with intellectual and developmental disabilities, she engaged clients in both meaningful conversations and play. Maritsa feels that too often we put play last, but it should be a priority to have a happy and healthy quality of life, and she is excited to build meaningful relationships with clients to help them achieve just that.

East Bay

Mindy Creson, MA, MSW

Hummingbird Project Manager – East Bay
BA Social Work, California State University Chico; MSW Social Work, UC Berkeley; MA Theology and Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary

Mindy’s warm and playful nature allows her to develop authentic connections to others, especially those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. She was actively involved in caring for her grandmother and mother, both diagnosed with forms of dementia, experiencing firsthand the need for a person-centered approach to care. Mindy has a passion for engaging older adults in creative experiences that provide opportunities for joy, self-expression, and meaningful connections with self and others. Mindy’s expertise as a social worker and experience with a variety of creative arts has shaped her strengths-based approach to engaging older adults. Some of her favorite activities to share with older adults include creative storytelling, collage, nature walks, Laughter Yoga, art appreciation, and exploring a variety of spiritual experiences.


Julie Chervin, MA, CELS

Activity Specialist
BA Political Science, California State University Northridge; MA Counseling Psychology, Holy Names University

All of Julie’s life experiences have led her to the calling of helping to ensure that elders’ quality of life is maintained to the fullest. A musician throughout her life, Julie is certified with Music & Memory to bring personalized music playlists to elders and has trained in the Village Song method of facilitating Music Circles for elders. She is also a Certified End-of-Life Specialist (CELS) through Teaching Transitions. Julie has always loved spending time with elders and believes that intergenerational interaction, lifelong learning, and sharing music, stories, and expressive arts are some of the keys to sustaining vitality as we age.


Michelle Jacobs, BS, CTRS

Activity Specialist
BS Recreation Administration with a focus on Therapeutic Recreation, California State University Chico

Michelle’s (aka Misha) dedication to improving the quality of life of those around her began in her early days. She grew up helping in her mother’s special education classroom on her days off from school. Misha has always been passionate about working with people with different abilities, animals, and being outdoors. Her patience, creativity, empathy, and genuine spirit help her to connect with the clients she serves. Misha does not believe in “dis”abilities, but rather “different” abilities.”


Vicky Hochman, MS, BC-DMT

Vicky HochmanActivity Specialist
BA, Dance and Latin American Studies, Tulane University;
MS, Dance/Movement Therapy, Pratt Institute

Vicky Hochman is a board-certified dance/movement therapist.

Her passion for movement and the human body has led her to dedicate her life to helping people establish a relationship with their body and the wisdom within. Vicky believes that through movement one can access parts of themselves that cannot be accessed verbally alone— and that the body in motion is the best tool to process life experiences, relieve stress, gain clarity, and connect to one’s authentic self. Vicky’s approach involves building genuine relationships with her clients to create meaningful interventions and activities that fit each client’s particular needs. She looks forward to connecting with older adults and people with varying cognitive abilities through any experience that moves the individual, including art, theater, dance, sports, food, nature, exercise, etc. Her training includes humanistic psychology, internal family systems, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and positive psychology. Vicky utilizes these theories in combination with dance as a form of self-expression to instill hope, self-worth, and self-care for an improved quality of life.

North Bay

Cheri Drees, BA

Hummingbird Project Manager – North Bay
BA, Liberal Studies, San Francisco State University

When her grandparents needed additional support during their aging process, Cheri served as their advocate and primary caregiver, helping them relocate and settle into Assisted Living. This experience sparked a love and passion for working with older adults as they navigate changes, and Cheri became the Director of Admissions for a Skilled Nursing Center, followed by Director of Marketing at a Memory Care and Assisted Living Community. Cheri has now served older adults for more than 15 years in various roles, including Life Enrichment, Marketing and Admissions, and Care Management Support. She found her true calling as an Activity Coordinator, developing meaningful programs for older adults that bring joy to their lives. Cheri’s enthusiasm, sense of humor, and sensitive, kind nature resonate with clients and their families.


Sacramento Area

Alicia Harris, BFA

Alicia HadleyActivity Specialist
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.


Jennifer Verdu, BS, CTRS

JenVerduActivity Specialist
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 12 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.

Los Angeles and Orange County

Elizabeth Fluck, MA (2), BC-DMT, LMFT (#45109), LPCC (#1472)

Elizabeth FluckHummingbird Project Manager
BA, Dance major, Psychology minor, Point Park University, Pittsburg, PA; MA, Dance/Movement Therapy, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA; MA, Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Somatic Psychology, Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA

Elizabeth’s fondest memories of childhood are filled with gardening, cooking, engaging in long talks, and going on long walks with her maternal grandmother. She also cherishes memories of rooting on favorite football teams, playing card games, keeping up with the soap operas, and watching Lawrence Welk with her paternal grandmother. Elizabeth spent her teenage years accompanying her older sister to her work as a nurse in a skilled nursing facility. This led to volunteer and work opportunities for Elizabeth at this nursing facility and marked the start of her career. Days spent on the unit with the elderly residents were full of moments rich with deep connection and authentic experiences of joy as well as sorrow.

Her lifelong love of dance and human connection brought Elizabeth to the field of dance/movement therapy. Throughout her career, Elizabeth has continued to serve people across the entire developmental lifespan, including work in inpatient, residential, outpatient, home care, and educational settings. In recent years, her pursuit of perpetual learning includes a new passion for arts activism in both social and environmental justice. In 2019, Elizabeth was the site leader for Global Water Dance, creating a site-specific dance performance alongside the Los Angeles River with dancers of all ages.

Elizabeth looks forward to creating moments of joy and authentic connection with Hummingbird Project clients. She brings to this work her enthusiasm for building these moments of meeting.


Samantha Ryder,​ ​MA,​ ​LMFT​ ​(#120234)

Activity Specialist
BA Geography, Geographic Information System (GIS), University of Washington; MA Counseling Psychology with specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy, California Institute of Integral Studies

Samantha started volunteering and later working with elders in skilled nursing facilities and home care as a teenager and became passionate about providing individualized and compassionate care to enliven and support people in their later stages of life. Samantha’s love for and practice of visual arts, playback theatre, and the power of all arts in psychotherapy have hugely influenced her stance and practice as a mental healthcare professional. Working as an Expressive Arts Therapist trainee and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with families, groups, and individuals across the lifespan, Samantha brings her passion for creativity, storytelling, meaning-making, identity exploration, and strengthening relationships to her role as an Activity Specialist with The Hummingbird Project. Over the past 10 years, Samantha has facilitated creative arts grief and loss support groups for adults, children, and teenagers, and worked with dependent adults and elders in various settings. She brings a deep empathy and warm attitude to her work with individuals and emphasizes a whole-person approach to one’s sense of well-being and quality of life. Samantha especially loves collaborating in enacted, visual, and written story making, art creation, nature appreciation, and body-mind awareness with clients.


Vicki Alvarez, MS, R-DMT

Vicki Alvarez, MS, R-DMTActivity Specialist
BA Psychology, Minor in Dance, California State University, Northridge; MS Dance/Movement Therapy, Pratt Institute

Honoring and respecting elders is embedded in Vicki’s cultural background as a Filipino-American. Growing up, she was inspired by her grandmother to live life through her values of integrity and kindness by serving others in a hospitable manner. Her grandmother displayed ambition as the matriarch of the family, which influenced Vicki to adopt the same mindset for her own goals. Today she is committed to helping others empower themselves through creative expression.

Originally from San Francisco, Vicki has always had a love and passion for dance and the many ways it brings people together. She has trained and performed in styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, modern, contemporary, and various partner dances. She was introduced to dance/movement therapy through volunteering with a therapeutic movement program originally called “Dance for All” that helped to promote social, emotional, and cognitive skills for adults with developmental disabilities through dance and movement. In 2018 she rebranded the Santa Monica-based program with her colleague and named it Let’s Dance It Out. Vicki combined her curiosity about human behavior with her love of dance by pursuing her master’s degree in Dance/Movement Therapy. As a spiritual person she believes that the body serves as the unconscious mind, which can be channeled in many powerful ways to bring healing across many populations using the universal language of movement, developing relationships and connections with one another, and ultimately creating a deepened sense of empathy and overall well-being.


Joe Kaufman, MT-BC

Joe KaufmanMusic Therapist/Activity Specialist
BA in Music Therapy with an emphasis in Psychology, Seattle Pacific University

At the age of 8, Joe began his journey into Music Therapy by visiting his grandmother’s nursing home in Pasadena, CA. He would play piano, sing for the residents, and give out presents at Christmastime. Throughout the rest of his childhood and adolescent life, Joe recognized the unifying power that music created with friends and family. Inspired by this time spent with elders, Joe decided to continue a professional career in Music Therapy after high school, which prompted a move to Seattle.

While in Seattle, Joe completed a bachelor’s degree and began working for Aegis Living, an assisted living care facility with a memory care unit. He learned to hone his skills and foster a safe therapeutic environment in groups and one-on one-settings. During Christmas of 2019, Joe created a songwriting and recording program for the residents of Aegis Living. Joe and 25-30 residents wrote an original Christmas song and went into a professional studio to record vocals, guitar, bass, and piano. The process of recording music gives elders a newfound sense of purpose and creates a legacy for their voice to live on throughout the years. King 5 news and NPR recognized Joe for this outstanding project and did a full interview (links below). In early 2022, Joe moved back to California and began working for the Hummingbird Project, where he is eager to bring a fresh perspective to creative aging.

Seattle

Susan Martelino, MA

Hummingbird Project Manager – Seattle
BA Psychology, Upper Iowa University; MA Marriage and Family Therapy, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota

Susan’s close relationship with her surrogate grandmother taught her to treat older people with care and respect—and fostered her interest in working with elder men and women. She also discovered the wisdom each elder person holds as they share their experience and knowledge and believes they should be recognized for the great teachers they are. Susan’s favorite activities to share with her clients include movement, sensory stimulation, life stories, and tapping into their unique interests to maintain who they are.