Nancy has a BS degree in Medical Technology and a MS degree in Allied Health Education. As a microbiology and hematology instructor, her early "activities" involved working with test tubes, pipettes and bunsen burners. While taking some time off to raise her three children, she discovered her interest in helping seniors. When Nancy returned to the work force, she did so as an assistant activity director for a full-service community. She became the activity director a year later.
In 1999, she accepted the position of National Director of Lifestyle Enrichment with Marriott Senior Living. When Marriott exited the senior care market two years later, Nancy devoted herself to developing Activity Connection, an online resource for Activity Professionals.
Bob's background is in Finance. He left the corporate world a few years ago to help Nancy with Activity Connection. If you have any questions about Activity Connection, please feel free to call Bob at (503) 419-5701.
Lynne is a registered nurse with a long (we won't say how long) and varied career in a number of diverse settings from emergency room and oncology nursing to hospice care and quality improvement. She has had the good fortune to care for and work with many wonderful and inspiring people along the way. She believes that, even though health care is a serious business, large doses of creativity and humor help to provide balance and support to those who serve in the field.
Lynne's creative endeavors include writing and drawing. She resides outside of Baltimore in Owings Mills, MD, with her blended, ever-expanding family and menagerie of dogs, cats, and birds. Lynne's husband, Jeff, is an organizational psychologist who, in his spare time, serves as chief editor and technical advisor for the Front Porch Travelers as well as a number of other Activity Connection articles.
Originally from Battle Creek, Michigan, Julie has worked in the field of activities for about 15 years all combined. She is a certified activity director and has worked almost every angle from developmentally disabled to Sub-Acute and everything in between. Julie was the Director of Activities at the former John Douglas French Center in Los Alamitos, California for 4 years. It was the first of it's kind exclusively for Alzheimer's residents, in the country. Since it's closure in 2005 she has been the Director of Activities at Bel Vista Convalescent Hospital in Long Beach, California (a beautiful, privately owned, warm and intimate facility) and has been there for 2 1/2 years.
Julie has dabbled in many different occupations from stand up comedy to selling cemetery plots. She finally found her calling when she began working in the field of activities. An admitted ham with a love of big band music and old TV shows makes it a perfect fit. Julie lives with her husband Brent, their 2 dogs, Lucy and Shadow and their four birds, Hobart, Beaky, Benny Blue Butt and RJ, in Long Beach, California. Julie credits her knack for activities to the residents. When you listen to their interests and base your activities on what you hear, you can't go wrong.
Cyndi is an art maker and art lover, she's a mother of three awesome children, an art educator, an actor, and she believes that giving her time and talent back to the community makes the world a better place.
After graduating from the Columbus College of Art & Design, Cyndi founded Studio 49, her freelance design and illustration business. She's worked with such clients as Highlights for Children, The King Arts Complex, Famous Dave's, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. When Cyndi isn't working on her commercial art you can find her creating and exhibiting her own art, teaching art, or getting in touch with the thespian within when acting opportunities arise. Cyndi is an active member of Mother Artists at Work (MAW), the Ohio Art League and Creative Arts of Women (CAW). She also volunteers as often as possible to assist in promoting and funding the arts and local charities.
Ted Boretti has a MA in Education and has taught English language and literature in high school for the past six years. He grew up in Boston, persevered through four years of all-boys Catholic high school, attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut, worked in book publishing and as a Park Ranger in New York City, moved to Seattle to be closer to the mountains, became a teacher, got married, adopted a dog, bought a house, sold the house, left Seattle to move to Washington, DC, bought another house, became a stay-at-home dad, and now loves writing for Activity Connection. Whew!
Haley Burress has her Masters in Therapeutic Recreation and over 10 years of experience in recreational programs with seniors. She has experience working with all levels of care, including independent living, adult day care, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care. While she enjoys planning and facilitating groups with all of her seniors, she has a special place in her heart for seniors living with Alzheimer's Disease and other dementias. Haley has worked on a national consulting level with a large senior living company and also finds great pleasure mentoring and teaching collegues in the activities field.
Haley and her husband Derrick recently welcomed their first child, Jackson. He fills their life with such joy and she enjoys the fact that writing for Activity Connection allows her to work part time at her community so that she can spend more time with her little guy.
Joan is a graduate Columbus College of Art and Design where she majored in illustration and advertising. She started her full time design career with Hamilton Design and Associates in Columbus and later established her own design studio called ArtEffects. She shared offices in the Short North with her husband, free lance photographer Tom Etter. After 10 years she accepted a job with her largest client (Highlights for Children Inc.) as a Creative Manager working with and directing many outside artist. Joan is freelancing again and working with on newsletters and Alzheimer's materials for Activity Connection. She is looking forward to being involved in even more projects.
Joan has 2 wonderful grandchildren who live very close to her. She's also looking forward to another grandchild in May. The new one will live in Denver, not close enough.
Sarah Gray is our graphic designer as well as illustrator designing everything from the bingo cards and birthday set, to the calendars and clip art. Starting off studying nursing, she quickly realized she needed something more creative to hold her attention and changed to a degree in Visual Communication from Otterbein College. She worked doing freelance work for several years focusing on logos and business identities before working with Activity Connection. With her strong computer skills and extensive knowledge in design and illustration, she brings creativity and energy to her work. Along with being a designer, she is a wife and mother of a beautiful little girl and draws inspiration and imagination from her family.
Raised by a mother who was a nurse for thirty years and a father who taught school for thirty-eight years, it is not surprising that Dawn has devoted her life to helping others.
After earning a BA degree in Psychology from Rutgers University in 1992, Dawn accepted an activities position in the facility where her mother worked. Although it was only to be a temporary job until she found her "real" career, Dawn quickly realized that it was a perfect fit. From the very first day, Dawn embraced the concept of matching activities to the individual residents. As Director of Health Care Activities at Springpoint Senior Living at Meadow Lakes, Dawn has spent the past twenty years doing just that. Certified as both an Activity Director (ADC) and Dementia Practitioner (CDP,) her inspiration for creating programs has always been the residents' interests. Indeed, Dawn's love and respect for the people in her care has served to develop a strong bond with each of them. Universally well-liked by both residents and their family members, Dawn's department consistently receives praise for the challenging and meaningful activity programs which keep residents interested and engaged. Her passion for the elderly population and her unique gift for knowing what each person needs has earned her the Frances Black Humanitarian Award.
When Dawn began writing for Activity Connection last year, the residents at Meadow Lakes were thrilled since they had encouraged Dawn to showcase the many activities which they enjoyed through the years.
Yits Jimenez has a BA in Communication and a Teaching degree on ESL/EFL. Her educational backgrounds have given her the opportunity of working in many different areas: as an advertising executive, marketing director, freelance copywriter, English teacher...
She took a sabbatical year off her advertising job in order to work as a Spanish teacher at a French High School located 40 kilometers away from Paris, and to benefit from this overseas experience. In January 2007, when she went back to her Mexican hometown, Guadalajara, she started her own business - a translating company offering a wide variety of services that are explained in her website: www.ytraducciones.com
Nowadays she's a part time college professor teaching about marketing and advertising, in the Mexican Colonial city of Guanajuato where she lives with her husband Francisco, a mathematician who applies his knowledge to computer programming innovation.
During her high school years, Lisa's mom was an activity director in a skilled care home, and Lisa spent many hours volunteering. While attending college, she began working in another facility as the assistant activity director and stayed for nine years. Marriage took her far afield to Florida and home again to Illinois with Baby Nikolas added to the family. Over the next 21 years, she and her husband, Kevin, built a dome home, developed their ten acres, and reared their son, homeschooling him through high school. With Nikolas graduated, it was time for Mom to move on.
After completing a medical transcription course, life interrupted. Kevin installed postal boxes in a new assisted living facility and brought home a job application. On a lark, she turned in the application, and on another lark, they hired her! She spent over 3 1/2 wonderful years as the activity director for this premier assisted living facility and attached memory care unit.
Life has come full circle. The experiences of marriage, motherhood, assisting aging parents, homeschooling, a love of writing, and being an activity director in two distinct times and settings, have all come together in a perfect blend to provide the needed fuel for a new direction. With a passion for long-term care and dementia issues, her goal is to support activity directors in their quest to provide superior programming for their communities. Activity directors are the heart of their homes, and they are professionals who deserve the best we have to offer.
Mark has a Masters degree in Therapeutic Recreation and is currently the Assistant Director for the Indiana State Department of Aging. He worked for the Indiana State Department of Health as a Health Educator for 29 years. Mark has taught the Nursing Home Activity Director's Course over 100 times and has trained over 5000 individuals. He is a past Chairman for the National Alzheimer's Association Annual Conference and served as the President of the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Indiana. Mark currently does presentations on Wellness and Aging, Alzheimer's Disease, and Humor: It Works Wonders. He is still teaching and training through ActivityDirectorsCourse.com.
On a more personal note, Mark is married and has a 13 year old daughter. "I was blessed to have a Mom who laughed a lot even during the most difficult of times in raising 9 children. I carry on her philosophy by using a lot of humor each and every day." ~ Mark
MJ Plaster has been a professional writer for more than two decades, with newspaper, magazine, anthology, corporate and agency writing to her credit. She has also served as managing editor for several association and special publications for Leading Edge Communications since 2006. During the dot com era, she specialized in technical writing, instructional design and training as well as functioning as a working partner in a conference company. In the past decade, she has moved to online communications, concentrating on lifestyle topics such as the culinary arts, travel and horticulture-the things that add the spice to life. When she's not writing, it's a good bet that you'll find her in the garden or the kitchen. A native Nashvillian, MJ spent more than two decades traveling throughout Europe and North Africa and considers herself a citizen of the world.
Jessica is a violinist with three performance degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. During her eight years in college, she has written more than a few term papers. Her knack for writing directs creative energy elsewhere in between long hours of practicing violin. Jessica currently gives private violin lessons ranging from beginning to advanced students and peforms with other musicians at various public events.
Jessica has written several of the Activity Teacher courses and also writes the "Morsels & More" page for Activity Connection. Like many struggling musicians, she is constantly searching for a perfect, ringing sound. Jessica currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Paul who is also a violinist.
"Writing is similar to playing an instrument in many ways. First you must make a rough draft, or play a piece all the way through without stopping. Then go back and revise some wording, or work on a few tricky spots. Once the tedious work is done, it is ready for a final read-through." ~ Jessica
Mary Anne's photo isn't recent, but it's the most recent that she has of herself that she is willing to claim. She loves reading poetry and stories almost as much as she enjoys creating them. Her Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy was paid for by working as a proofreader/assistant production coordinator of Weekly Reader magazines and proofreading legal case summaries. This experienced textbook editor, substitute teacher, masseusse, nurse aide, caregiver, and hospice volunteer enjoys traveling, learning, acting, reading, writing for ActivityConnection.com and creativewritingforyou.com, and laughing at the antics of her dogs Nazareth and Galilee and cats Tangerine and Jesse.