OUR EXECUTIVE BOARD
Mekaleya Tilahun, Executive Director
Mekaleya is a UC Davis '17 graduate where she studied Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and was one of the founders of the UC Davis Alzheimer's Buddies chapter.
“Spending time with my Buddy was enlightening in many ways: She experienced isolation not only because of her loneliness living in the senior center, but also because she was one of the only black residents there. I am so grateful to have been an extension of the community that she had once been an active part of; for her to see a familiar face every week was incredibly important, and I hope that I can encourage others to continue forming these bridges with other communities of color.”
RENAJD RRAPI, Board Member
Renajd is a Harvard College '16 graduate where he studied Neurobiology, researched memory formation, and conducted public service. He is funded by the Harvard Pforzheimer Public Service Fellowship.
"Caring for my grandmother as a young adult showed me the existential meaning and emotional value of developing a strong bond with a senior citizen. My experience directing the Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies program and my interest in end-of-life care inspired me to facilitate similar meaningful friendships across the country."
RYAN CHRIST, Treasurer, BOARD MEMBER
Ryan is a DPhil Candidate in Statistics at Oxford University, a Harvard College '12 graduate, the student founder of Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies and a founding member of National Alzheimer’s Buddies.
"Students across universities have big hearts: many want to connect with isolated residents with dementia and grow from that experience. NAB is about breaking down the barriers so they can reach out."
MEKDES GETANEH, BOARD MEMBER
Mekdes is the founder of The Gordon College Alzheimer’s Buddies Chapter and a Clinical Research Coordinator at Dana Farber Cancer Institute
"I can have an immeasurable impact on my Buddy by showing a simple act of kindness and genuine care. What keeps me motivated is the nice sweet smile I see on my Buddy’s face as a sign of thankfulness for being there."
ROBIN STEWART, board member
Robin is the Senior Community Life Leader at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, and oversees Life Enhancement at HRC Roslindale and New Bridge on the Charles.
ADVOCACY & PUBLIC RELATIONS COMMITTEE
Hannah is a senior at Rice University majoring in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and minoring in Neuroscience. She participates in her Alzheimer's Buddies chapter as a volunteer, internal outreach chair, and secretary.
Ellen Zhang is studying in the life sciences at Harvard University. At Harvard College Alzheimer's Buddies, she spends time with her buddy (be sure to check out her blog posts!) and is Advocacy Chair.
Ayumi is a senior at Carleton College majoring in Biology and minoring in Neuroscience. She volunteers with the Carleton chapter and works with the Public Relations and Advocacy Committee.
OUR ADVISORY BOARD
REISA SPERLING, MD, MMSC, HONORARY ALZHEIMER'S SPEAKER
Dr. Reisa Sperling is a neurologist, professor at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Director of the Neuroimaging Core and the Outreach Core of the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"I think Alzheimer's Buddies is awesome. It's a chance for young people to realize they can absorb wisdom from older people with Alzheimer's disease and to give them great joy."
RUTH KANDEL, MD, GERIATRICIAN
Dr. Ruth Kandel is a geriatrician at Hebrew Senior Life, Director of the Memory Disorders Clinic, and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School.
"This is an incredible program that I feel privileged to be a part of. Witnessing the meaningful and lasting relationships that I have seen develop between the undergraduate students and individuals with Alzheimer’s continues to amaze and inspire me."
KUO-KAI CHIN, MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT
Kuo-Kai is a MD candidate at Stanford Medical School Student and Co-Director Emeritus of the Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies.
MICHELLE WANG, COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT
Michelle is a MD candidate at the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Medicine and Co-Director Emeritus of the Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies.
JENNIFER TU, Communications CONSULTANT
Jennifer is a MD candidate at Duke University Medical school and Co-Director Emeritus of the Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies.