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.

San Francisco and Peninsula

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

Meredith EdenHummingbird Project Manager – SF and Peninsula
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.


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

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 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.


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

Activity 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.

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.”


Katie Giampa, MS, CTRS

Program Coordinator, Activity Specialist
BS Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management, Pennsylvania State University; MS Parks and Recreation Management with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Katie has worked with children and adults with developmental disabilities, older adults, and people who have experienced traumatic brain injuries for over a decade. She has a wide range of experience in outdoor activities, aquatics, community integration, travel, movement, and adaptive exercise. She is passionate about providing individualized person-centered interventions as a means to maintain and enhance the quality of life of those with whom she works. Katie believes strongly in the words of Dr. Patch Adams: “You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.”


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 a genuine relationship with her clients to create meaningful interventions and activities that fit the client’s particular needs. 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.

Sacramento Area

Alicia Harris, BFA

Alicia HadleyActivity 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.


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

Rita Canny, MPS, ATR-BC, LMHC

Hummingbird Project Manager – Los Angeles
BA Art History, Mills College; MPS Art Therapy and Creativity Development, Pratt Institute

Rita’s first experience in eldercare was in high school when she volunteered to spend time visiting residents at a care facility in Playa Vista, California. Over time, she developed an understanding of these elders—their deep reflections and feelings and their needs for self-expression. Rita is a registered, board certified Art Therapist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor (11022). She has presented on Art Psychotherapy, Art Therapy Program Development, and Water Color Painting in Memory Care for the New York Art Therapy Association, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, Laguna Honda Hospital, and others. She also served as the Director of Public Relations for the Northern California Art Therapy Association for three years. Rita is honored to bring 16 years of experience to the Hummingbird Project. She is committed to her own creative process as a mixed media artist. Her wide knowledge of materials and techniques, combined with her creativity, enables her to provide highly personalized approaches to meaningful activity with her clients. She enjoys working expressively with others through activities such as adaptive art, book making, art and music appreciation, gardening, and sensory oriented play. She brings an empathic and playful approach to her work that supports her ability to engage clients and build trusting relationships.


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.

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.