Alzheimer's Foundation of America

Foundation of America

Pam Leonard named Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s 2019 Dementia Care Professional of the Year

(October 31, 2019) —  The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is proud to announce that Pam Leonard, LBSW, CDP, Program Director for CJFS (Collat Jewish Family Services) CARES in Birmingham, AL has been named its 2019 “Dementia Care Professional of the Year.” The honor is awarded annually to one individual who demonstrated professional excellence in care, compassionate performance above and beyond expectations, and a dedicated commitment to those living with dementia.

“Every day, there are devoted, skilled professionals who go above and beyond to provide exceptional care for individuals living with dementia,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Pam is a hard-working, compassionate caregiver and social worker who works tirelessly to put the needs of families first. She exemplifies the dedication and devotion to serving others which this distinction represents. Congratulations to Pam on achieving this honor.”

Pam Leonard said, “‘This is my happy place’ is a sign that hangs by the door at CARES.  It was put there by a caregiver who recognized that her mom found friendship, love, acceptance, laughter, purpose, and success in this place. She found these things while dealing with the grief of losing her husband and receiving a new dementia diagnosis. CARES is also my happy place because I have found the same things while being in community with the people we serve.    I am fortunate to be able to create, along with our staff and volunteers, a place where people can find joy while navigating through a disease that can present so many challenges.  I am honored to receive this award by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.  An organization that was founded by a caregiver and believes in improving the quality of life for the families they serve.”

Pam developed, launched and continues to run the CJFS CARES Program which provides respite, enrichment, and socialization for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related illnesses.  Pam has created a space where those with dementia can socialize, exercise, create art, sing and play adapted games to stimulate their minds and bodies, improving their quality of life. She has trained and advised more than 150 volunteers in dementia care, enabling them to be more effective and confident. She has also co-led the Caregiver Support Group helping families cope and thrive while caring for loved ones with dementia.  A Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker and Certified Dementia Practitioner, Pam has more than 21 years of experience in providing guidance to families on various issues such as how to handle difficult situations at home and where to find available resources.

According to her colleagues who nominated her for the award, Pam runs her program with grace, skill and compassion.  She provides a positive impact on families and offers extraordinary services to clients, while addressing peoples’ fear and confusion.

AFA has awarded Dementia Care Professional of the Year annually since 2007. Past winners have included doctors, support group facilitators, and program and executive directors of Alzheimer’s centers.

For more information about AFA’s Dementia Care Professional of the Year program, or programs and services to helps families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, click here or call 866-232-8484.