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In My Community
Meet The Presenters
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Keynote speakers

Mary MacDonald
Take Care of Yourself: Seven Sustainable Skills for the Long-Term Care Journey
A successful web design consultant, Mary MacDonald lost her career, income, home, belongings, friends, personal health, and mother to dementia in 2008. Surviving this experience, Mary founded the social enterprise Marymac Missions LLC. Born and raised in the Syracuse area and now residing in Topsfield, MA, Mary is a certified life coach, group leader, and Kripalu yoga teacher. She holds a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from Boston College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degrees in psychology and German.


Carol A. Podgorski, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Managing Family Dynamics
Dr. Carol Podgorski is associate professor of psychology and co-director of the family therapy training program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, director of the family and community outreach program for the University of Rochester Medical Center memory care program, and director of the family consultation service for Monroe Community Hospital. She specializes in relationships between older adults and adult children, as well as family issues related to long-term care and grief and loss. Dr. Podgorski is an accomplished lecturer and teacher, and has published numerous articles in the field of geriatric psychology and psychiatry. She holds a doctorate in sociology, and master’s degrees in public health, and marriage and family therapy from the University of Rochester.


Breakout Presenters

 Intimacy & Alzheimer's
 Making Meaningful Connections Through Activities
 Preventing Identity Theft and Financial Exploitation
 Making the Most of the Patient-Caregiver-Doctor Relationship


Intimacy & Alzheimer's

Dr. Ann Merriwether, Ph.D., Binghamton University
Dr. Ann Merriwether is an instructor at Binghamton University, where she teaches in the psychology department at the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences and in the College of Community and Public Affairs' human development department. Her research focus is reproductive health attittudes among men and women, and social sexualization. She has authored multiple journal articles on issues regarding intimacy, sexuality and relationships. She holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Pennsylvania State University.


Diana Buchhalter, Binghamton University
Diana Buchhalter holds a bachelor's of science in human development and sociology from Binghamton University. With a lifelong interest in intimacy and relationships, she has worked in the field for years, beginning with education for New York City teenagers. She is now the sexuality educator for Family Planning of South Central NY, where she develops and presents programs for audiences of all ages on sexuality, healthy relationships, and enhancing communication between partners. She has also worked with The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, the only sex education center for adults on the East Coast, writing original content for their website. Diana has taken part in several professional trainings pertaining to aging sexuality, and regularly presents programs on intimacy and older adults to long term care providers in the upstate New York area.


Making Meaningful Connections Through Activities

Amy Gannon, CTRS, Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter
Amy is the assistant day program director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter’s. Amy oversees the day-to-day operations for the Kirkpatrick Day Program, providing tours and guest visits, supervising the day program staff. Amy joined the Chapter in 2009 after a number of years directing activities and recreation programs in long-term care facilities. She earned bachelor’s degrees in therapeutic recreation and recreation management from SUNY Brockport. She is also a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, a credential awarded by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.


Melissa McMahon, Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter
Melissa is the Chief Day Program Officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter. She administers all facets of the area’s only dementia-specific day service, the Kirkpatrick Day Program. Melissa joined the Chapter in 2001 as the Kirkpatrick Day Program’s activity coordinator and was named its director in 2006. She is a graduate of SUNY Brockport.



Mary O'Neill, CTRS, Brookdale Senior Living Clare Bridge of Manlius
Mary O'Neill is the executive director for Brookdale Senior Living Clare Bridge of Manlius, a dementia care assisted living facility. Mary has held therapeutic recreation positions with multuple facilities in the region including Loretto, Folts Home and the Charles T. Sitrin Health and Rehabilitation Center. Mary is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, a credential awarded by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification, and holds a bachelor's degree in recreation therapy.


Renee Thorpe, Brookdale Senior Living Clare Bridge of Manlius
Renee Thorpe has an extensive background as an activities professional. Prior to joining the staff at Brookdale Senior Living in 2008 as its program coordinator, she spent four years working at the Inn at Menorah Park as a resident assistant, leading activities for residents with dementia. She was also the activity leader for Iroquois Nursing Home’s dementia care unit.


Preventing Identity Theft and Financial Exploitation

Judith C. Malkin, New York State Office of the Attorney General
Judith Malkin is the Assistant Attorney General for New York State, working from its Syracuse Regional Office. She is a regular speaker in the community on scams and fraud targeting senior citizens. She is a member of the New York State Bar and earned her law degree from Rutgers University School of Law in Newark.


Making the Most of the Patient-Caregiver-Doctor Relationship

Elizabeth Smith-Boivin, Alzheimer’s Association, Northeastern New York Chapter
Elizabeth Smith-Boivin was appointed was appointed executive director and chief executive officer for the Alzheimer's Association, Northeastern New York Chapter in 2012. For 10 years, she was director of the Anne B. and Leon J. Goldberg Alzheimer’s/Dementia Resource Program at The Alzheimer’s Center of Albany Medical Center. Smith-Boivin’s appointment as executive director is the continuation of a 30-year career of service to the geriatric community and individuals with age-related dementias, including over 20 years of service to the Alzheimer’s Association. Smith-Boivin served as a reviewer for the New York State Department of Health Dementia Grants Program, and is an appointee to the Albany County Long Term Care Council and NYS Governor’s Coordinating Council for Services Related to Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. Smith-Boivin has a Bachelor of Science in sociology/social work from Siena College and a Master of Science in Health Services Administration with a concentration in Gerontology from Sage Graduate School.


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.