Women & Alzheimer’s: The Empowerment Forum Panelists
Caregiver Experience Panelists
Charlotte Allen, B.A., M.S.W.
Charlotte Allen, B.A., M.S.W., served as an assistant professor of Social Work at Molloy College for 14 years. In her lifetime, she has also served as a caregiver for many friends and family.
She was the caregiver for a dear neighbor, Mildred, who was a widow with no children. Mildred became increasingly dependent and had no family to help. Eventually Mildred moved into assisted living, and Charlotte facilitated her end-of-life care. Charlotte also helped a good friend, Vivian, and spent time with her in Florida, helping her family coordinate her care until her passing. In addition to assisting friends close to her, Charlotte provided care for her mother, Neva, who aged in place with increasing difficulties due to confusion and hallucinations. Her mom eventually transitioned to a facility. Charlotte’s brother and his wife helped from long distance to coordinate care, while Charlotte served as the designated person to speak to all healthcare personnel.
Perla Castro, M.S.
Perla Castro, an independent project management and strategic planning consultant, currently serves as the interim executive director of LACARE, the Latino Alzheimer’s Coalition for Advocacy, Research, and Education. A collaborative effort of academic and community partners dedicated to supporting individuals with or at risk of Alzheimer’s disease and their families, LACARE advocates for increased access to education, family support services, and research opportunities.
This collective initiative traces back to 2007 when Perla, the daughter of a Latina diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in her fifties, embarked on a quest for Spanish-language resources to support her mother’s journey.
Fueled by this mission, Perla brought together AD stakeholders and organizations, uniting to address the unique needs of the local Latino community. This pivotal meeting led to a dedicated coalition committed to advocating, collaborating, and working collectively to support Latinos living with dementia and their caregivers.
Today, the significance of their work is underscored by alarming statistics highlighting the disproportionate impact of Alzheimer’s disease on the Latino community. As Perla steps into the role of interim executive director, their commitment extends to providing direct services, further advancing their vital mission and making a meaningful impact in the lives they touch.
Loraine Christy Klimas
Loraine Christy Klimas has been a senior paralegal with National Grid, for nearly 40 years. Her personal life includes the titles of wife, mother, daughter, and caregiver.
Loraine has been a devoted caregiver to her father, Frank, for the past nine years and her Aunt Mary, who lived with dementia, for six years. Both are now recently deceased.
Loraine has been married for 36 years and has two adult children. She received her B.S. in Business Administration from Adelphi University. She also attended Adult Children’s Support Groups at NYU Langone Geriatric Associates for several years.
Loretta Woodward Veney
Loretta Woodward Veney is an inspirational speaker and trained LEGO Serious Play facilitator who offers a wealth of information, encouragement, and humor to her audiences. Loretta is the author of Being My Mom’s Mom, Refreshment for the Caregiver’s Spirit, and Colors Flowing from My Mind. In 2006, after her beloved mother Doris was diagnosed with dementia, Loretta began learning everything she could about the disease. She became a fierce advocate for her mom in the process. Loretta and her mom have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and a PBS special. Her engagement with her mom using LEGO bricks and her facilitation of LEGO Serious Play workshops for those with dementia and their caregivers resulted her being featured on ABC-TV’s Robin Roberts Thriver Thursday series, which previewed on Good Morning America.
Professional Perspectives Panelists
Laura M. Brancato, Esq.
Laura M. Brancato is a partner in the Mental Health, Guardianship & Elder Law Litigation Practice Group at Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone, LLP. Laura devotes her practice to complex guardianship and elder law litigation including Article 81 and 17A guardianship proceedings, Article 9 proceedings under the Mental Hygiene Law, Power of Attorney litigation and related Supreme Court fiduciary litigation, and Surrogate’s Court litigation. She has extensive experience litigating in the New York State Supreme Court, Surrogate’s Court, and at all levels of administrative hearings on behalf of her clients. Laura’s practice group covers a broad range of mental hygiene law issues associated with cognitive impairment, mental and behavioral health, and substance use disorders.
Christine DeLorenzo, Ph.D.
Dr. Christine DeLorenzo has been the director of the Center for Understanding Biology using Imaging Technology (CUBIT) at Stony Brook University for over a decade. The focus of her research is to enhance our understanding of brain function and dysfunction, with the goal of improving diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases. A main technique used in her work is positron emission tomography (PET), an imaging modality that allows visualization and quantification of neurotransmitter systems. Christine has led PET studies that helped to advance our understanding of changes in the brain as we age and in response to medication. In 2018, her research was funded by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The results of that study showed that the density of one type of neuron (cholinergic neuron) in the brain is critical for memory function. Christine was then awarded a grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to expand the study and help quantify the changes that occur in these delicate neurons as we age and to inform the development of the next generation of treatments. Recently, Christine was appointed the interim co-director of the Center for Healthy Aging (CHA) at Stony Brook University. In both her research and as interim co-director of the CHA, Christine aims to improve the health and wellness of people as they age. She obtained her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Yale University.
Christine Li, Ph.D.
Dr. Christine Li is a molecular neurobiologist who examines the function of genes that have been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Mutations in the amyloid precursor protein (APP) have been correlated with cases of Alzheimer’s disease (AD); specific mutations in APP result in higher levels of the b-amyloid peptide, which is found in the senile plaques and presumably leads to the neurodegeneration seen in the brains of AD patients. However, the function of APP remains elusive. By examining the function of APP-related proteins in simpler model systems, such as C. elegans, we may provide insights into the function of human APP. Chris is also interested in how neuropeptides, which are used for chemical signaling between neurons, are used to generate behavior. In particular, neuropeptide signaling is used extensively in parasitic worms; understanding how such signaling disrupts critical behaviors may uncover new classes of anthelmintic drugs. Chris received her B.A. in Mathematics and M.S. in Industrial Engineering (Operations Research) from Columbia University, before receiving her Ph.D. in neurobiology from Harvard University. She was a professor of Biology at Boston University before returning to her home city to take a position at the City College of New York, part of the City University of New York system.
Linda Martinez, LCSW-R
Linda Martinez, LCSW-R, received her master’s from Adelphi School of Social Work, with a major in Older Adults and a minor in Group Work. She has over 30 years of experience in the field of Geriatrics, dedicating her entire career to geriatric care and working in almost every aspect of the field. She held positions at Parker Institutes’ Rehabilitation Unit and Adult Day Care, Ozanam Hall Nursing Home, Bayside Self-Help Senior Center, Winthrop Hospital Homecare and has been an integral part of providing optimal care at NYU Langone Geriatric Medicine –Long Island since July 2009. She has been running support groups for caregivers for 14 years and has presented programs for both social workers and community members on aging and caregiving.
Allison B. Reiss M.D.
Dr. Allison B. Reiss is an internal medicine physician, an educator and a molecular biologist who studies the causes and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive impairment. Her research is bench-to-bedside and directed toward finding effective therapies for these disease states. She received her medical degree from SUNY Downstate and completed Internal Medicine Residency at UMDNJ Rutgers. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Allison is head of the Inflammation Laboratory and associate professor of Medicine at NYU Grossman Long Island School of Medicine. She is well-published in medical and scientific journals and has chaired symposia at national and international conferences. Allison is also a section editor-in-chief, Neurology, for the journal Medicina and specialty chief editor of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias for the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. She is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Investigative Medicine. Allison is a member of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Medical, Scientific & Memory Screening Advisory Board. She teaches and mentors medical students, residents, and fellows. She has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the Arthritis Foundation. She is currently funded by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Allison has a strong passion for community outreach and is dedicated to improving healthcare, especially for older populations.