Meet our chapter board – Part 2
Our chapter is governed by a volunteer board of directors, responsible for planning, creating and implementing strategies and tactics in service to our mission. While they have a wide range of backgrounds, they share a commitment to our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia®. Over the next year, we’ll be introducing you to them and sharing what inspired them to become involved. Read the first blog.
Donna Petkanics (Vice Chair)
Donna Petkanics and her family first noticed issues with her mother’s memory on a family vacation in 2008. When they returned home and talked about what they had seen, Donna’s mother confided that her own grandmother had dementia later in life and she was worried she was going through the same thing. After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 75, Donna’s mother continued to live at home with her husband until he could no longer physically take care of her. Then he visited his wife regularly in the assisted living facility where she lived until she died in 2013, just a few weeks short of their 60th wedding anniversary. Donna says that her mother was “a loving, witty and bright woman, whose vitality and vibrancy were stolen by Alzheimer’s.” Donna’s father is now living with mild cognitive impairment.
Several years ago, board members tried to recruit Donna to our board. While she was interested, Donna was already heavily committed to a few other non-profit boards. She was able to attend a few fundraisers, and was inspired by Alzheimer’s Association leaders and speakers, especially those living with early stage Alzheimer’s.
In 2018, after completing her terms on the other boards, Donna joined our chapter board and is currently our Vice Chair. She also serves on our fund development and public policy committees. “Last year, another Board member and I teamed up and held our event for The Longest Day together, gathering a new group of neighbors in the Monterey area,” Donna told us. “We had about 15 couples attend and every one of them had an Alzheimer’s story to tell. They were all very willing to support our vision to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. It was inspiring to bring this group together and start a new network in the Monterey area that can help us fight this battle.”
Donna worked in Silicon Valley as a corporate attorney for over 35 years and recently retired from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C., where she was a partner. She represented a broad range of companies from start-ups through Fortune 100 companies across many industries, including life science companies and technology companies.
“As a member of the chapter board, I am always so impressed and inspired by the talent of our staff and my fellow board members. Together we leverage our collective expertise and networks to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and raise funds to fight for a cure. I have especially enjoyed gaining knowledge of legislative and research efforts being funded by our dollars. I hope that my participation as a board member will help us continue to accelerate the effort to find a cure for Alzheimer’s in our lifetime and cut the heartache and huge emotional and financial costs of this disease.”
Teresa Mandella of Stockton worked as a financial advisor for Ameriprise Financial for over 25 years. In 2010 at the age of 60, her husband, Frank, was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
When Frank participated in a clinical trial focused on brain imaging at UC Davis, a neurologist told Teresa about the Alzheimer’s Association. Teresa said, “She was the first medical professional that brought the Alzheimer’s Association to my attention.”
“Afterwards, Frank participated in an adult day program offered by a Stockton assisted living community. The memory care program manager was chair of the Stockton Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee and she invited me to become a participant. The rest is history as I went on to form my own team: ‘Creating a Racket.’ Teresa is an active tennis player.
As Frank’s Alzheimer’s progressed, Teresa was able to care for him at home until 2017. She decided it was time for him to move to a memory care setting, where he currently lives. After Frank moved into memory care, Teresa found herself with more time. She said she decided that “it was time to step up and do something that I could control, because you can’t control anything with Alzheimer’s.” Teresa joined the Stockton Walk planning committee and led the committee for two years.
In 2020, Teresa joined our chapter board. She serves on the executive committee for our gala, A Bright Night, as well as on our chapter fund development committee. Teresa has also volunteered as an advocate and shared her story with the media.
“I am most proud of the last two years in setting a high bar for the Stockton Walk sponsorship and my team fundraising revenue,” Teresa said. “For me as a board member, I really like finding a niche that allows my skills to make a difference in the chapter’s success in meeting targeted goals.”
Michelle Makino of Montara worked as a music therapist for the County of San Mateo and supervised the Creative Arts Therapies Department for over 20 years. Many of the individuals with whom she worked had Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Michelle’s introduction to the Alzheimer’s Association came when she participated in Walk to End Alzheimer’s in San Francisco.
At Aging and Adult Services for San Mateo County, Michelle managed funding awards and contracts for community-based programs, including the Alzheimer’s Association. She attended many of our caregiver conferences and professional training events. Michelle said, “the Alzheimer’s Association was one of the top, if not the top, performing organizations with whom I worked. The quality of programs and professionalism of staff demonstrated the strength of their work.”
Michelle also had a personal connection. Her father had Parkinson’s disease dementia and lived with Michelle and her family for three years before moving to a care setting. “The depth of what I learned as a caregiver was more expansive than anything I learned through my training and work experience,” Michelle recalls. “However, I believe both lead me to volunteering. At my retirement party, Elizabeth, our Executive Director, approached me to consider joining the board. A few months later, [in 2019] my participation became a reality, recognizing the volunteering opportunity to apply my professional and personal experience with a stellar organization.”
Currently, she serves as chair of the Care and Support committee and is a member of the Health Systems, Board Leadership, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committees. Michelle is also a Community Educator and served as State Champion for Senator Becker. She has participated in Walk, The Longest Day, and Memories in the Making.
“Working with my fellow board members, volunteers and highly trained, motivated and compassionate staff is the most rewarding and significant endeavor in my retirement,” said Michelle. “I am most proud to have the opportunity to contribute to our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. I am truly honored to serve on the Chapter Board and humbled by those we serve and those who serve.”
Randall Yip is one of our newest chapter board members, having joined in 2021. But Randall has been volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association for seven years.
Randall initially met an Alzheimer’s Association staff member at a networking event. He shared with her that he wished he had known about the Alzheimer’s Association when he learned that his father had Lewy body dementia. “I did not know where to turn for help,” he said. “I wish I knew about the Alzheimer’s Association at that time.”
The staff member invited Randall to join the Walk Committee and he has been involved since 2016, serving in various capacities including the Executive Leadership Committee, Walk Co-Chair and Logistics Committee chair.
Then Randall’s family faced dementia again. “When my mother unfortunately also developed Alzheimer’s, this time I had the Alzheimer’s Association to turn to for support,” said Randall. “The staff connected me to a social worker who understood my mother’s desire to live independently. I received a grant to purchase cameras in the home as well as tracking devices and an alarm to keep my mother safe and living independently.”
In July of last year, Randall joined our chapter board and serves on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. “My mother passed away in January and I am dedicating my work on the board to her memory.”
Randall is a senior producer at ABC7/KGO TV, where he has worked for almost 20 years. Randall also serves as a board member of Chinese for Affirmative Action and has held several leadership roles within the Asian American Journalists Association.
Dr. Marcy Adelman, a clinical psychologist in San Francisco, has been an advocate and leader on issues facing LGBTQ+ elders for much of her career. In 1998, she founded Openhouse, a nonprofit that provides affordable, welcoming senior housing to LGBTQ+ seniors, and works to center the voices and experiences of LGBTQ+ older adults by providing opportunities to make social connections and build community.
When Marcy’s mother, Julie, experienced cognitive health issues after a series of small strokes in 2000, her healthcare providers failed to diagnose her dementia. This lack of diagnosis made it difficult for the family; Julie’s husband, Ben, provided care until he became ill and died in 2002. After Ben’s death, Marcy and her four siblings managed her daily care needs for five more years, until Julie died peacefully at home in 2007.
LGBTQ+ older adults are more likely than heterosexuals to be single, live alone and not have children. Marcy wanted to use her family’s lessons to improve services for LGBTQ+ elders living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
In 2012, Marcy served on the San Francisco LGBT Aging Policy Task Force. She was the lead task force member on the Alzheimer’s/Dementia Care Work Group. The Task Force made recommendations in 2014 that led to the funding of a new San Francisco LGBT Dementia Care Project. This project is a collaboration among the Alzheimer’s Association, Openhouse and the Family Caregiver Alliance.
Marcy joined our chapter board in 2018. When Governor Gavin Newsom established the Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force in 2019, Marcy was selected as one of the members.
“I am proud to serve on the board of an organization that cares so deeply about supporting people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and the people that care for them,” said Marcy, “and is committed to bringing equity, inclusion and diversity to all aspects of dementia care from clinical trials to cultural humility training for staff and service providers.”
Marcy currently serves on our Diversity and Inclusion, and Public Policy and Advocacy Committees. She is our Co-Ambassador to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office.
She is Vice-Chair of the California Commission on Aging and a member of the Equity Advisory Committee for the California Master Plan on Aging.
Interested in learning how you can get involved? View our entire chapter leadership list and learn more about our volunteer opportunities, including other leadership positions. You can also reach us through our Helpline at 800.272.3900.