The Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati originated as a collection of family support groups in 1979 and became an official chapter of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association in September 1983. For the period between 1979 and 1983, its programs and services consisted of a volunteer-staffed Helpline, monthly chapter meetings, presentations by a speaker’s bureau, publication of a local newsletter and dissemination of materials generated by the National Alzheimer’s Association.
For the first four years of its existence, the Greater Cincinnati Chapter was volunteer-directed and volunteer-staffed. It was the foresight and vision of Board President Elizabeth "Betty" Bolles that led to the board's decision to facilitate the Chapter's growth by opening a permanent office and hiring a paid staff person.
In 1983, Ms. Bolles worked with other local non-profit organizations to obtain free space at Cincinnati Area Senior Services, where a chapter office was opened. The trustees also hired its first staff member, Diana Trenkamp, as executive director. Ms. Trenkamp was charged with organizing family support groups, developing educational outreach and raising funds to support a growing organization.
The founders of the Chapter conducted business from their homes until 1984 when the Chapter moved into office space donated by the Cincinnati Area Senior Services in the Holiday Office Park in Queensgate. In 1989, the chapter moved into its current 10th floor suite and has added to the leased space several times to accommodate continued staff expansion over the years.
In 1986, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation provided grant funding to establish a volunteer Helpline phone system. A social worker was added to the staff in 1988 to supervise the Helpline. By the mid-90s, the Chapter discontinued the use of volunteers for Helpline, using only professional clinical staff for calls.
In 1987, in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, the Greater Cincinnati Chapter presented its first Summer Symposium. The symposium, which attracts more than 300 health care professionals, features guest speakers, workshops and sessions targeted to a specific aspect of Alzheimer's disease and related care issues.
In July, 2004, Mrs. Trenkamp retired as executive director and was replaced by Sue Wilke, who served as director for the next 24 months. In August, 2006, Program Director Clarissa Rentz was named executive director.
In February, 2011, following the announced retirement of Ms. Rentz, Paula Kollstedt (pictured below) was named executive director.
Over the past decade the Greater Cincinnati Chapter has seen marked growth in both its outreach and service numbers as well as fundraising efforts. In 2016, the Cincinnati Tri-State Walk to End Alzheimer's at Sawyer Point reached the $1 million mark for the first time and, in 2019, the event ranked 8th out of more than 600 Alzheimer's Walks in the nation.
The Alzheimer's Association of Greater Cincinnati continues to strive to offer the very best in education, support and advocacy on behalf of those affected by Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia. The Chapter's educational programs, nearly all of which are free of charge to families, are ranked among the highest in client satisfaction, according to the Alzheimer's Association's Quality Evaluation Initiative. In addition, the National Endowment for the Arts named the Greater Cincinnati Chapter's Memories in the Making art program one of the 13 Best Practice Programs in Creativity and Aging in the United States in 2007.