The AgeWell team‘s administrative core are leaders in the interdisciplinary field of aging and are dedicated to developing evidence-based programs, science, policy, and educational offerings to facilitate healthy aging. Our Student Network is composed of current students with a strong interest in working with older adults and thinking about the type of community in which they, themselves, want to age.
Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, FGSA, FAAN
Dean and Distinguished University Professor
Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, FGSA, FAAN, an applied research sociologist, is the dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University. Gitlin is nationally and internationally recognized for her research on developing, evaluating and implementing novel home and community-based interventions that improve quality of life of persons with dementia and their family caregivers, enhance daily function of older adults with disability and address mental health disparities. She is a well-funded researcher, having received continuous research and training grants from federal agencies and private foundations for over 35 years.
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Rose Ann DiMaria-Ghalili, PhD, RN, CNSC, FASPEN, FAAN, FGSA
Principal Investigator, Cell2Society. Research net (DARE)
Assistant Dean for Interprofessional and Collaborative Research; Professor
RoseAnn DiMaria-Ghalili, PhD, blends her passion for nursing, the older adult, and nutrition into a strong body of interdisciplinary research which impacts practice. DiMaria-Ghalili’s efforts are recognized nationally across disciplines (nursing, nutrition, medicine, and engineering) and contexts (research, practice, and policy). Her research focuses on the impact of nutrition and use of cutting-edge technology on recovery, quality of life, and health outcomes in older adults with acute and chronic conditions. Recognizing the need to improve the measurement of nutritional intake, DiMaria-Ghalili led a team of engineers on the research and development of a patented wireless device to track and monitor fluid intake. She is also a member of an interdisciplinary team of engineers and physicians developing and testing therapeutic ultrasound and diffuse correlational spectroscopy to monitor and treat chronic wounds. During 2007-2009 DiMaria-Ghalili was a Claire M. Fagin Fellow in the John A. Hartford Foundation Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity program.
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Kate Clark, MPA
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Kate Clark, MPA, is director of Strategic Initiatives for Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) and the Associate Director of the AgeWell Collaboratory. In both of these positions, she leads the development and implementation of new efforts that align with the goals of the College and expand CNHP’s community-based partnerships. From 2008-2017 Clark was planner for Policy and Program Development at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), where she worked to develop two nationally award-winning and replicated programs: Age-friendly Philadelphia and GenPhilly (Generation Appreciation Philadelphia). For this work she was awarded a 2018 Healthy Communities Innovator award by the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal. Prior to moving to Philadelphia, she initiated and managed the City of Syracuse’s first public art program; directed the City of New York’s Historical Signs Program; and conducted research as a Fulbright Scholar on public-private partnerships and public space management. From 2013-14 Clark completed a Hartford/Atlantic Philanthropies Health and Aging Policy Fellowship, advising the Surgeon General of the United States on healthy aging issues related to the Affordable Care Act’s National Prevention Strategy.
Sokha Koeuth, MPH
Sokha Koeuth has more than 10 years of experience in higher education with extensive interprofessional and aging project experience. She began her career at the Jefferson Interprofessional Education Center working with faulty, students, and community volunteers living with chronic conditions and impairments at Thomas Jefferson University. She has first-hand experience with the coordination of building learning modules and debriefing experiences to improve communication and teamwork. Learning modules included but no limited to wellness history, home safety hazards, medication assessments and more.
From there she gained experience in planning, implementing and evaluating an evidence-based program such as New Ways for Better Days (Tailored Activity Program) for persons living with dementia and their caregiver and managed the annual Summer Research Institute on Behavioral Interventions at Johns Hopkins University. She continues to work closely with a wide variety of change agents to help older adults age in place.
Elizabeth Yutzey is the research assistant for the AgeWell Collaboratory at Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions. She holds an MFA in Dance Science from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (London, England), where she specialized in the physiological, biomechanical and psychological aspects of dance, including the impact of dance for non-dance populations, such as older adults. Yutzey has engaged in a range of research projects including “The Evaluation of Gender-Specific Dance Classes;” “Making Music: The Physical and Mental Demands of Practicing and Performing;” and her own research, “A Mixed-Methods Analysis of Existing Creativity Measures.” While at Trinity Laban, Yutzey experienced community dance programs for various populations, such as older adults and adults with Parkinson’s disease. This involvement sparked her interest in pursuing research on aging populations. Additionally, Yutzey is the chair for the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science Student committee, and a member of One Dance UK and the National Institute for Dance Medicine and Science.
Maria Dellapina, MS
Maria Dellapina, MS, is a research assistant for the dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the AgeWell Collaboratory. As a research assistant, Dellapina bolsters the forward movement of grants supporting the well-being of older adults and their caregivers. Prior to coming to Drexel, Dellapina directed evaluations at Local Matters, a non-profit in Columbus, Ohio focused on food education, access and advocacy. With a background in education, research and evaluation, she has experience engaging older adults through art therapy, cooking and community gardening. Dellapina holds a Master of Science in Environmental Studies with a concentration in environmental education from Antioch University New England and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Miami University in Oxford, OH.
In early 2019, four students from Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) launched the AgeWell Collaboratory Student Network. The student organization is an interdisciplinary network centered on supporting students interested in working with older adults and inspiring students in other disciplines to join the dialogue. These dedicated students established the Network, hoping to provide more resources and opportunities for students interested in aging. Through collaboration with the AgeWell Collaboratory, they have begun building partnerships to create those opportunities for students.
The student network has also launched a Lunch & Learn series that thus far has discussed careers in and research on aging. The Network continues to invite speakers passionate about older adults and hopes to inspire Network members through lively, discussions.
If you would like to learn more about the Network or create any volunteer or co-op opportunities for Drexel students through the AgeWell Collaboratory Student Network, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alyssa Rygalski, AgeWell’s President, is a senior majoring in Health Services Administration. She did her co-op with the AgeWell Collaboratory in the Dean’s suite at College of Nursing and Health Professions! Alyssa is dedicated to building connections in the community to create opportunities for our students interested in aging. She first became interested in the topic growing up with an elder aunt who lived with her. She has extensive experience volunteering in hospital and long-term care settings.
Nicole Bespalov, AgeWell’s Vice President, is a junior nursing student minoring in Criminal Justice. Nicole wants to practice elder abuse and gerontology-related law. Each week, she volunteers at Abington Memorial Hospital with elderly patients, and that’s where she found that her passion is caring for the aging population. She is super-excited to get others involved with the mission that AgeWell is promoting!
Dan Dychtwald, Treasurer, is a fourth-year PhD Candidate in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. His focus is on translating nutrition research into policy and advocacy. Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Political Science with a minor in Business Administration from Rowan University. In addition, he has a Master of Science degree in Nutrition along with a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Health Policy and Administration. Dan earned both degrees at Drexel.
Thomas Morris, Events Coordinator, is a junior majoring in Health Services Administration with a Minor in Finance. Thomas first developed an interest in aging during middle school when he was helping to care for his grandparents who had Alzheimer’s Disease. Prior to AgeWell, Thomas had extensive experience volunteering and working at a Continuing Care Retirement Community in his hometown of Frederick, MD.
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