The Longest Day 2018
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Vermont Leadership Board
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Vermont Chapter Leadership Board members

   Robert (Rob) Backlund - Leadership Board Co-chair

While watching his Mother’s (Susan Backlund) decline from Younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and his Father’s (Wayne Backlund) struggles as a care-giver over the last seven years has given him the insight to proclaim that, “Alzheimer’s sucks!” As a millennial, Rob hopes that by the end of his life this statement is not necessary. However, while it is still relevant, he strives to be an advocate of awareness for Alzheimer’s and a voice for caregivers whom do not have the time and energy to ask for help. Since having the courage to take a stand two years ago, he has raised over $20,000 through his Annual Purple Pasta Make and Bake Event as part of the Alzheimer’s Association Longest Day Event. More importantly though, the majority of the contributions have come from those 35 years old and younger. It is his mission to reach out to his own generation and to take a stand that a world with Alzheimer’s disease is not the world that we want to pass on to future generations.  


  Lisa Beilstein - Leadership Board Co-chair

Lisa has been a transformation and change champion working with senior leaders of businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations for years. She has worked across five continents meeting with thousands of people focused on change. They wanted to change their vision, their business strategy, their business results and their very place in the world. Although she could help them, it was much more difficult to help herself on the journey of transformation her mother and she shared as dementia absorbed her mother's life. The story of this journey has been stirring in her soul, driving Lisa to connect with others who have taken or are currently on the path with a loved one.


 Lisa Falcone

Lisa is a champion for working Vermonters and their families and strives to make our community the best that it can be for all citizens. She is the Director of Working Bridges and also a founder and senior advisor to WorkLab Innovations located in Denver, CO, a national organization promoting sustainable workforce practices.

Her interest in Alzheimer’s began when her mother, Alice, was diagnosed several years ago. As difficult as it was to watch her mom’s decline, Lisa was grateful her mom had the best long-term care possible. Wanting this same level of healthcare for every person who has Alzheimer’s (regardless of means), Lisa was inspired to get involved. Her hope is a cure will be found very soon.

Lisa lives in Shelburne, VT.

   Mary Gleason

Mary lives in South Burlington with her husband Steve. She is the Community Banking Officer for Northfield Savings Bank on Shelburne Road, the South Burlington branch.

Mary's mom passed away from Alzheimer’s a year and a half ago. Her mom's dad passed away from this terrible disease as well. She knows how devastating this disease is, not only for the person who has it but for the families as well. She wants to work along with others to advocate, to raise money for programing and research to help to End Alzheimer’s!

 Walter Gundel, M.D.

Education BS in Mechanical. Engineering from Cornell U.; MD from McGill University; 6 years post MD training at Johns Hopkins Hospital (surgery, int. Medicine, cardiology & bioengineering) - board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.

Professional Experience  University of Vermont Medical Center: catheterization laboratory director with initiation of angioplasty program; cardiology fellowship trainer and med school teacher; 1 year service as director of cardiac rehabilitation; 1 year sabbatical of cardiac research at Oxford University; 25 years private practice with Lake Champlain Cardiovascular Associates.

Past President, Vermont Chapter American Heart Association

Dr. Gundel began working with the Alzheimer’s Association Vermont Chapter as a lead volunteer in our physician outreach activities and as a community educator. He also serves on the VT Governor’s Commission on Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders.


 Tammy Johnson 

I am the proud mother of three amazing boys and wife to an incredible man. The five of us reside in Milton.  I have been the director of sales at the Burlington Free Press for eight years and prior to that lived in Nashville, TN and was in a similar role.

My passion and desire to build awareness around Alzheimer’s is personal.  Twelve years ago my grandmother passed from this horrific disease.  At that time I knew very little about the illness or how it would impact my life moving forward. Three years later, we started to see signs of the illness in my mother. At 60 years of age, she was also diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, just five years after her mother's death.

Now, at the age of 65, when she should be starting and enjoying retirement, Mom lives in fully supported care at Birchwood in Burlington. Watching these two incredibly strong woman lose their independence has been extremely difficult.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of the disease and the impact that it has had and will have on me and my family moving forward.  However, I have realized that I have a choice; I can stand by and be a victim or I can try to do something about this disease and change the outcome. I choose the latter and hope you will join me.

   Michael A. LaMantia, M.D.

Dr. LaMantia is an NIH-supported clinician investigator whose medical practice specializes in the care of older adults, particularly those with cognitive impairment including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.  He is a board-certified internist and geriatrician as well as a fellow of the American Geriatrics Society.  His research focuses on the coordination of care for older, vulnerable patients as they transition across sites of health care delivery. He has a special interest in the care of seniors in the emergency department, especially the care provided to persons with dementia and delirium.  His work has been published in top journals in the field, including the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Health Affairs, the Annals of Emergency Medicine, Academic Emergency Medicine, and the Annals of Internal Medicine, among others.  As head of geriatric medicine at the University of Vermont and the University of Vermont Medical Center, he is working with community, university, state, and health care partners to provide high-value care that improves the lives of older adults across Vermont and the northern tier of New York State.

   Lori Smith

Lori has worked in the healthcare industry for over 30 years.  She has spent the majority of her time working in the field of organizational wellness - helping employers create happy, healthy and well environments so individuals can bring their best selves to work each day. When Lori’s father was battling his end-stage fight with Alzheimer’s, she and her family members struggled to stay engaged in their own lives while doing their best to support their father as well as their mother in the care giver role. It occurred to her that so many lives are impacted by this disease especially those managing work, families and life. For this reason, Lori became inspired to give her time as a board member to educate and advocate within the business community as employers support employee needs.

Lori lives in Shelburne with her husband Matt and has two grown daughters.


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.