October 19, 2023

Dear Friends,

Behind recent organizational evolutions, community support, and the administering of hundreds of creative aging workshops already this year lies an exceptional team at Arts for the Aging. Some are new or in newly formed positions. Others expanded their roles with us. Still others keep on with renewed dedication.

Arts for the Aging continues to grow, find beauty, and enduringly reinvent. It is a blueprint that hearkens back to one of our founder’s sculptures, 3 Steps to Success, and is reflected in the three petals, or flames, of Arts for the Aging’s logo. Our new tagline – Connect, Imagine, Create—conveys another three-step guide. It is the essence of how our teaching artists collaborate in making a poem, drawing, dance, or song in workshops with older adults and caregivers. It is how our board and staff provide the scaffolding we need to reach new heights. We are on pace to bring 80% more of our therapeutic arts programs to Greater D.C. through next year.

In this issue, I hope you find sparks of familiarity as you read more about some of the team members who make our visual, musical, performing, and literary arts workshops shine. We are immensely grateful for your enthusiasm and support because it makes our evolutions possible.

Wishing you an autumn of abundance,

Janine Full Signature.png

Janine Tursini

Director & CEO

Photo, top: New teaching artist Laura Quiroga in a Joy of Movement workshop with members of the adult day program at Easter Seals in Silver Spring, MD

P.S. - Read on for more about our amazing team

Spotlight on Our Team

Michelle Baker, Board Chairperson

“Arts for the Aging is meaningful to me because the arts were a lifeline to my mom as her dementia worsened and physical health faded. She struggled with heart disease and vascular dementia at a young age. During her final years, she spent countless hours coloring, singing, and painting with my young children, even as she couldn’t recall their names. The sweetest moments I have of that difficult time were connected to the arts and I want to share that with others.”

In her professional life Michelle (pictured, above, second from left with her family) has more than 25 years of communications and public affairs experience. She is a partner at Forbes Tate Partners and was elected to lead the Arts for the Aging Board in May.

Don Wright, Immediate Past Chairperson

Vice Chair of Executive Board Development, Trustee Emeritus

“I have always viewed the arts as the ultimate expression of oneself and an agent to stimulate those same reflections in others. As an amateur artist, I get great pleasure from creating something that others appreciate and enjoy. My initial attraction to the organization was in learning how the arts can be used in health care and it became a way for me to direct my love for the arts toward helping others. I have met an incredible universe of like-minded people who are making a difference in this special community.”

What an honor and great fun it was to work with Don Wright over the last six years. We are deeply grateful for his wisdom, friendship, and investment in our mid-size and mighty nonprofit. Don and his partner Lezley McIlveen, pictured above, have made an indelible mark.

New Board Officers

Deborah Riley, Vice Chair of Organizational Equity,

Teaching Artist

“I love Arts for the Aging because I see the meaningful impact our programs have on older adults every time I teach. Witnessing their life stories as we move and sing together, assures me of our deep need for connection and appreciation.”

Lisa Consoldane, Treasurer

Lisa is a passionate supporter of the arts and keeps close to her heart hobbies in ceramics, drawing, and painting, as well as a photographer father who lived with health conditions in later years. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her family and loves to travel.

Judith Bauer, Trustee,

Quicksilver Dance Company Member

Judith is an active participant in the Greater D.C. area dance community and a longtime member of Arts for the Aging’s older adult improv dance company, Quicksilver. She was an economist, marketing professional, and cultural tour guide, to name just a few threads from her career and volunteer life. “I am an African American cis-gender woman born in 1935 in New Haven, CT and now living in Washington, DC surrounded by art, plants, and loving friends. I find purpose in being a dancer and a dance facilitator, a part of my life that did not manifest until I was way into retirement from other facets of my life.” 

Photos above, l-r: Deborah Riley with a workshop participant, Lisa and Tony Consoldane, Judith Bauer, Hannah Whitley

New Trustees

Catherine H.K. Bell, Trustee


Wherever she goes, you can find Catherine singing or humming along the way, as music has always been core to her life and brings color to her world. Catherine is often noted for her warm and calming voice, but also her bright and friendly smile. She believes in the importance of positivity in our lives and loves bringing light and positive energy to those around her. Catherine also brings strong guidance and tangible support to Arts for the Aging, with her experience in corporate transformation as well as her lens as a performer of the arts. She currently resides in Northern Virginia, and loves good food, long walks with her doberman, and strength training (for fitness and "me time").


Joe Jones, Trustee


“Art-making runs through my family’s blood and I have seen the impact it has had as they have grown older. I love Arts for the Aging because it helps to bring joy, passion, health, energy, spirit, and connection to older adults’ lives. I am a calm presence, a seeker of knowledge, and a catalyst for positive change. I love nature, human creativity, and gaining perspective through a deep understanding of history.”

A link to board member biographies is available on our website here.

Photos above, l-r: Catherine H.K. Bell, Joe Jones

New Teaching Artists

We recently trained and hired five new teaching artists who will bring new art forms and backgrounds to our artistic faculty. We welcome Dr. Sloka Iyengar (dance), Erika Johnson (percussion), Dr. Casey Catherine Moore (poetry), Yaya Patterson (music), and Laura Quiroga (dance) to Arts for the Aging.

A link to faculty biographies can be found here.

New & Outgoing Staff

We asked new and outgoing staff to tell us why Arts for the Aging is meaningful to them.

“I believe art is an essential aspect of the human experience from which everyone deserves to benefit,” Mercedes Blankenship, grants coordinator.

Project assistant, Kayla Conklin, says it’s because the organization “demonstrates the transformative power of the arts to assemble communities of care.”

Director of development, Jackie Vinick, shared that our “ability to create joy through immersive art experiences while meeting a tremendous community need” is what resonates.

Communications intern this past summer, Kiley Clements, “witnessed first-hand the immense joy that the arts can bring to older adults, and the bridges it can build between people of all generations, backgrounds, languages, and abilities."

Lenique Huggins, our communications fellow who is moving on to focus on medical school says, “I have had rich intergenerational experiences at the intersection of art and health, all while feeling supported in such a caring work environment. I wore many hats and challenged myself as I made the transition to medical school. Over these two-plus years, I developed professionally, personally, and creatively and made lasting connections and memories.”

Ariel Green, having finished her year-long internship in programming and communications said, “I was always met with encouragement and grace as I balanced new motherhood, graduate school, and work assignments. All the staff have a passion for the organization’s mission, and care deeply for every person that makes it happen. I gained a better understanding of the arts and health field from some of the most phenomenal art managers."

A link to our full team biographies can be found here.


Thank you to Don and Nancy Bliss for hosting a lovely summer soireé for our board, staff, teaching artists, and volunteers:

L-r: Don Bliss, Marilyn Millstone, Joan Hampton Fraser, Wall Matthews

Thank you to Sarah House and family for opening their home for a fall party:

L-r: Mercedes Blankenship, Deborah Riley, Peggi McGovern, Elizabeth Lindsey, Erika Johnson, Annetta Dexter Sawyer, Paula Cleggett, Janine Tursini, Nancy Havlik

Thank you to our team for a lovely late summer field trip to Glenstone:

L-r: Sarah House, Jackie Vinick, Kiley Clements, Peggi McGovern, Ariel Green, Mercedes Blankenship, Kayla Conklin, Janine Tursini, and board members Catherine H.K. Bell and Judith Bauer

Our Mission

Engaging older adults and caregivers with diverse abilities and backgrounds in health improvement and life enhancement through regular participation in the multidisciplinary arts

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