Dr. Bruster currently serves as senior pastor of the 6,000-member First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Centenary College in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion. In 1985 he graduated Cum Laude from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University with a Master of Divinity and went on to earn a Doctor of Ministry degree in preaching and worship in 1991, also from Perkins. Beyond the local church, Dr. Bruster serves on several boards and councils.
He and his wife, Susan, live in Fort Worth and have three grown daughters: Sarah, who is married to Stephen Pepper, Katie, married to Alex Segreti, and Emily who is married to Chris Wahler. They are also the proud grandparents of Alice and Andrew Pepper and Luca and Milo Segreti. He is a licensed pilot and his primary hobby is aviation. He also enjoys family outings, reading, travel and music.
Linda worked as an RN in Assisted Living communities for 20 years. Since her retirement she has taught classes for assisted living managers across Texas. Because of her background in nursing, she is particularly interested in seeing nurses and other healthcare professionals graduate with an awareness and understanding of dementia so that they are better provide dementia-capable care.
Her greatest joy in working with Dementia Friendly Fort Worth has been the development of a weekly dementia friendly Chapel service. Through this virtual chapel service, it is possible for people living with dementia and their care partners to continue to enjoy worship with familiar hymns and Scripture in a comfortable environment. She has completed a Dementia Friendly Chapel Toolkit, available on the DFFW website, making it easier for others to offer such a service to meet the spiritual needs of their residents, families and friends living with dementia.
Linda and her husband Jim have been married for 52 years. She served alongside her husband, Jim, a retired United Methodist Minister. She and Jim have 2 handsome sons, 2 beautiful daughters-in-love, and 4 precious granddaughters.
Carolyn Grieser — Board Member
Carolyn Grieser studied Home Economics at the University of Illinois and moved to Texas in 1970. She and her husband Gerry have two children and five grandchildren. Carolyn and Gerry volunteer with the Hurst Police Department Citizens on Patrol and the Hurst Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association.
Through the years she worked as a substitute teacher, microwave oven demonstrator, cooking school instructor, assistant buyer of linens at Stripling and Co. and rental property owner/manager. Her favorite job was being a book seller for seven years at Walden’s Bookstore. Her love of books translated well to the volunteer work in at the FUMCFW church library where she serves as the Library Director.
She traveled the Alzheimer’s journey with her mother and mother-in-law and tells people that she wants them to know what she didn’t know when they began the journey. Carolyn has been actively involved in the work of Dementia Friendly Fort Worth since its inception and volunteers in various capacities as the need arises.
Pam Brandon is President and Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, a Tarrant County based company that develops and delivers aging and dementia training for professional and family caregivers. Pam spearheaded the development of Dementia Live®, Flashback® and Compassionate Touch®- innovative dementia training programs being implemented by care providers, hospitals, universities and others across the US, Canada and Australia.
Pam’s passion for aging and dementia education was grounded in her 15 -year caregiving journey for her own parents who lived with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Since 2007, she has educated and trained thousands of family and professional caregivers and worked with hundreds of organizations in helping to create positive change for older adults and those who serve them. Pam and her husband John have lived in Colleyville for 28 years and have 4 grown children and 4 grandchildren.
Shelly Young is the Program Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association – North Central Texas Chapter where she has served for ten years. Ms. Young has a Master of Science in Gerontology from Abilene Christian University and has worked with seniors for over 20 years. Much of her employment has been in the senior care industry including assisted living, nursing facilities and home care. During this time, she has had the privilege of working with many senior adults and their families as they tried to find appropriate services and make the difficult choices that families often face.
Ms. Young’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for over 10 years. Her mother passed away after living a nursing facility for three years. Ms. Young’s father suffered from Parkinson’s disease and dementia and lived in a care facility for over six years.
Cheryl Mart, MSN, RN currently serves as the Faith Community Nurse Program Coordinator for Texas Health Resources. She is Board Certified in Faith Community Nursing and draws on her 14 years’ of experience in acute care and community nursing to develop health promotion programs that assist faith communities to maintain mental, physical and spiritual health.
She also co-facilitates a support group at her church for children of aging parents. Dementia Friendly Fort Worth fits with her personal mission to provide compassionate and culturally competent health information to the community by promoting wellness through health education and advocacy.
Beth Noah earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of North Texas and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas in Arlington. She is licensed with the state of Texas. Beth worked with family and children for 15 years through Big Brothers and Sisters and Communities in Schools. For the past 9 years she has served as the Coordinator for The Aging and Disability Resource Center in Tarrant County (ADRC). She has also been involved in various committees and networking groups in order to help connect seniors and people with disabilities with the resources they need.
Beth’s great aunt suffered with Alzheimer’s and at that time not much was known about how to recognize it in the early stage or treat it. In her spare time, she enjoys scrapbooking, card making, going to Ranger games, and traveling.
Paige Wolk, LBSW, CDP has over twenty years of experience in the Senior Care Industry. She began her career as a Social Worker in a skilled nursing facility working with elderly and found her passion. Mrs. Wolk has been active in the Social Work community, earning such distinctions as Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers and Social Worker of the Year by the Society for Social Work Leadership in Healthcare, Texas Chapter. Her experiences with the elderly include Social Work, Business Development, Public Relations, Advocacy, Community Education and Marketing for long term care facilities, rehabilitation facilities and subacute units. Prior to joining the Overture Home care team in June of 2016, Paige was employed with Rehab Synergies, a Rehabilitation Services Provider serving as the Director of Marketing and Recruitment for 6 years. Mrs. Wolk has a passion for the elderly with particular interest in Alzheimer’s and Dementia. She is a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP) and volunteers regularly for Dementia and Alzheimer’s related causes. Paige is married with three children and resides in the mid-cities. She enjoys cheering on her twin boys at the hockey rink and is an OU Fan (Boomer! Sooner!) given her daughter attends the University of Oklahoma.
Misti Powell, Founder and Chief People Officer for Civitas Senior Living, is a passionate executive with more than 15 years of experience in senior living operations. With a focus in market development and customer service, Ms. Powell oversees the evolution of the organization’s policies and procedures, management of resident health services, staff education and culture implementation. Leading through her passion, Ms. Powell has developed employee engagement programs including a candidate-centric recruiting and onboarding experience, robust resident activities programming, company-wide wellness standards and a meaningful culture that is the heart of the Company. Prior to joining Civitas Senior Living from 2005, Misti held roles of increasing responsibility at the community level including marketing, Wellness Director and Executive Director for a local community in the Fort Worth area. It was during this time, while her husband was simultaneously serving as a consultant for other senior living groups, The Powell’s realized that they would make a greater impact in the senior living industry through ownership. Together in 2013 they formed Civitas Senior Living. The Company currently owns and operates more than 40 communities nationwide with 15 additional communities in development.
Michelle Kimzey, R.N., PhD. — Board Member
Michelle Kimzey is an Assistant Professor of Nursing in the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She earned her Ph.D at the University of Texas at Tyler and holds a B.S. in Nursing from Baylor University and M.S in Nursing Education from Texas Woman’s University. Since coming to TCU, she has continued to follow her passion for the older adults and those living with dementia. Dr. Kimzey’s research focuses on improving the care of those living with dementia. She is engaged in a range of research, enterprise and teaching activities in the field of dementia care. She is currently collaborating on several research projects related to dementia workforce and practice development. Dr. Kimzey recently completed studies include evaluation of a training program in dementia for healthcare students and an evaluation of the impact of a dementia simulation on nursing students. Dr. Kimzey looks forward to collaborating with the Fort Worth community to raise awareness of dementia in hopes of engaging those affected by dementia to get involved in education and research.
Charlene Ernst — Board Member
Charlene was born in Nebraska but has lived in Fort Worth most of her life,. She and her husband are members of FUMC-FW. She has done volunteer work for the church and community. She was a caregiver for her mother and her husband’s parents and aunt. This led to her interest in wanting to learn more about Dementia in order to have a better understanding of this debilitating decease and its effect on families, and the importance of educating the community about Dementia.
Jennifer Jurado Severance, PhD. — Board Member
Jennifer Jurado Severance, PhD is Assistant Professor and Director of Education and Research at the Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Jennifer received her B.A. from Austin College and M.S. in Long Term Care Administration at the University of North Texas-Denton, where she later received her Ph.D. in Applied Gerontology. Jennifer applies over 15 years of experience working in community-based services and long-term care to promote interdisciplinary and cross-sector approaches and improve health outcomes for older adults. As the Program Administrative Director for the federally-funded Workforce Enhancements for Healthy Aging and Independent Living (WE HAIL) Program, she collaborates in the planning and delivery of innovative Alzheimer’s and dementia care programs and in health services research in primary care, long term care, public health, and community settings. Jennifer is married with three sons and resides in Fort Worth. They have been members of the First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth since 2003.
2017 – present National Association of Geriatric Education, Board of Directors since 2017 and active volunteer for its Diversity and Racial Equity workgroup; 2016 – present Texas Public Health Association; 2015 – present American Geriatrics Society; 2015 – present Gerontological Society of America; 2013 – present American Society of Aging
Wes Alderete, M.D.— Board Member
After practicing for 35 years as a Family Physician in northeast Tarrant County, Wesley has recently retired. A lifelong Methodist, he grew up as a “PK” (Preacher’s Kid) and has been a member of FUMC Fort Worth for 25 years. In addition to being an active member of the Good Neighbors Sunday School Class, he has also served on the Outreach committee, Missions committee, and Church Council at FUMC. He is a “veteran” of several mission trips with youth to Mexico and to Costa Rica and medical missions to Costa Rica and Mexico. Graduating with his undergraduate degree at SMU, Wesley completed medical School at UT Southwestern and a Family Practice residency at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He is a past president of Tarrant County Academy of Family Physicians and has served as chairman of the board of Medical City North Hills Hospital.
Wesley has been married to church member, Barbara Alderete, for 43 years and they are proud of their 2 children and 4 grandchildren. In addition to being a grandparent, his current hobbies include golf and attending Cowboys and Rangers games. He hopes to lend his experience and lifelong learning to DFFW.
Don and Myra Gasser —Board Member (1 vote)
Don is a person living with early onset dementia in 2011 at the age of 54 and is a part of our “Activities for People Living with Dementia” program. Don and Myra both graduated from Kansas State University with Don’s degree in electrical engineering Myra’s in elementary education. Don concluded his career as a Sr. Engineering Manager at Abbott Labs in Irving. They married in June, 1977.
After his diagnosis, Don ad Myra determined that his disease would not define either one of them. Wanting to make a difference and to help others on this journey, they determined to learn as much as possible could Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Their mission is to let people know that this disease doesn’t just happen to older persons.
They have been active participants in an Early-Stage Support group in Bedford since 2012 and the Fort Worth Friday Group. Myra has led the Care-partners group in Bedford and volunteers for the ALZ National Chapter in Chicago as a Peer Volunteer on the message board. In that role, she helps to guide persons who ask questions concerning dementia / ALZ on the message board and to provide support. She has also served as captain of the Friday Friends team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Because of the pandemic, they searched for other types of support and engagement where they would be at home and safe. Their search led them to the DFFW virtual program “Activities for Persons Living at Home with Dementia” and they have been active participants. Don participates daily and has formed great relationships with the others. This has been the best thing to happen to us – becoming involved with DFFW.
Since his diagnosis, Don has taken up art, painting with both watercolor & acrylics. He has put together several complex wooden models. They have had a small-scale antique clock repair business. During the spring/summer they have a vegetable garden. Staying active together, they play cards, do word associations, play Nintendo games and frequently enjoy a Risk game that goes on for multiple days. Each year they produce a pictorial calendar of Don’s activities, including photos of many of his art projects.
Debra N. Crumpton, Rev.— Board Member
Debra has served as Senior Pastor of St. Andrew’s UMC in southeast Arlington since June 2013. She has a strong background in building relationships across racial and social economics lines as a path to sharing the life-changing love of Jesus Christ. Ministry is Debra’s second or perhaps third career after life as a Bank Examiner with the FDIC and a Management Analyst with the City of Fort Worth. Debra has served as Senior pastor of various churches in Central Texas Conference, as well as, on various boards and committees. She is a native of Alabama and received her undergraduate degrees from the University of Alabama.
Debra has a Masters of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at SMU (2000) and a Masters in Theological Studies from Brite Divinity School at TCU (1992). She enjoys family time, reading, biking, walking, traveling, and the great outdoors.
Currently Serving on: the Arlington Ministerial Association, Clergy Women of Color Committee, South SH 360 Corridor Development Advisory Committee, East District Leadership Team, General Conference 2020 Delegate.M
Gail Snider— Executive Director
Gail Snider currently serves as Executive Director for Dementia Friendly Fort Worth and was instrumental in launching this initiative which is now reaching beyond the borders of Tarrant County. Gail is committed to helping families and the community navigate age-related decisions. Having walked a 12-year journey with her Mother-in-law and dementia, she has helpful insight into issues and services families desperately need and works diligently to help persons living with dementia and their care partners have better quality of life within the
Having a passion to help the community understand dementia and understanding that it is difficult for everyone to be experts as a Certified Dementia Live® Coach and Certified Dementia Care Practitioner she strives to be a resource and educator for families, health care professionals and the general public. Additionally, serving as the co-chair for the Tarrant Area Gerontological Society (TAGS) Faith Based Bridge has given Gail a unique connection with faith-based communities in Tarrant County.
Martha Brown, LCSW — Program Coordinator
Martha Brown, LCSW is Program Coordinator for Dementia Friendly Fort Worth. She facilitates a five-day a week zoom program which serves individuals with cognitive impairment and dementia, as well as their care partners.
Martha has a long history of providing Social Work for the dementia population and those who love and care for them. Since 1993, she has worked in the medical, home care and hospice fields, interacting daily with these special people. Martha’s personal life has been touched by the Alzheimer’s Diagnosis in both her mother and her husband. She sees this social work niche as her calling, and answers that call with enthusiasm and energy! She gladly provides understanding, counseling, and referral to appropriate resources for those in need.
Heather White, MBA — Program Coordinator
Heather White is no newcomer to the world of growth and education – in fact, she found her first love of volunteering more than 30 years ago and has continued to this day with working on various projects with the Board and leading a Memory Café program at her local church, and volunteering with local and national organizations, including Dementia Friendly Fort Worth and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Being born and raised in Fort Worth, she went to Arkansas for her bachelor’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and completed her Master’s in Business Administration in Healthcare in Texas while starting a 15+ year adventure in the senior living industry, growing businesses and people all over the United States. Alongside her husband and two dogs, she lives on the west side of Fort Worth, remodeling her home, enjoying the outdoors, finding joy in running, and building up young adults that desire to grow personally and professionally.
A refreshing deviation from a saturated market of products and services geared to the geriatric population, Heather founded Grace and Truth Education to focus on specialized dementia education, offering nursing CEU’s, and helping senior living professionals cultivate leadership and business growth. She is often accompanied by her German Shephard Therapy Dog, Rosa, that travels with her for work because Rosa loves working with older adults as well. Heather is insistent on growing herself so she can grow others. That looks like her becoming a Proctor, Educator and Pseudo-Board Member with the National Institute of Dementia Education, and a Certified Texas Assisted Living Manager. She takes bringing caring for others back to basics by focusing on growing and loving others well as the foundation of all of her work.
Tia Viera — Special Projects Coordinator
Ms. Viera joins DFFW, bringing a wealth of experience in serving under-represented individuals in need of an advocate! In her previous role with the Alzheimer’s Association – North Central Texas Chapter, Tia worked in the area of diversity outreach, providing program development, education and care & support for senior adults and their families, particularly those from under-served communities who were dealing with a dementia diagnosis. Tia demonstrates a passion for helping these populations feel embraced and included through the programs and services of DFFW. Additionally, Tia and her siblings have been personally impacted by the challenges of caring for their mother with Alzheimer’s disease for over a decade.