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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: April 2014

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Student Chemists Pay It Forward

When Alec Follmer heard that University of the Pacific’s chemistry department had been awarded a $500,000 challenge grant from the John Stauffer Charitable Trust, he rallied his fraternity brothers and sisters to seize the moment.

“This was the great opportunity we had been waiting for,” said Follmer, a senior from Newbury Park, CA, who is majoring in biochemistry.

He and fellow members of Alpha Chi Sigma, a national chemistry fraternity, jumped at the chance to turn $10,000 from their chapter’s fundraising coffers into a $20,000 gift to the University.

The Stauffer challenge grant, announced in January, has a goal of matching gifts like Alpha Chi Sigma’s, dollar for dollar, up to a potential total of $1 million. The funds will support the John Stauffer Undergraduate Summer Research Endowment in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

When fully funded, the endowment will provide approximately 10 grants every year to undergraduate students at Pacific allowing them to pursue their research, outside of the rigorous school year. Summer research opportunities provide invaluable experience for undergraduate students, often propelling them into additional scholarly research and prestigious graduate programs. Follmer has seen the impact of undergraduate research first-hand; since his sophomore year, he has worked with chemistry Professor Jianhua Ren on her research using sophisticated computational studies of the gas-phase acidity and basicity of organic molecules.

Such projects are invaluable to students’ futures, according to Ren.

“The Stauffer Challenge Grant will undoubtedly be a great support for students interested in chemistry and conducting meaningful research in chemistry,” Ren said. “As a faculty member and a research advisor, working with talented young researchers has been an incredibly rewarding experience.”

Follmer credits his hands-on undergraduate research experiences with helping him win acceptance to UC Irvine’s highly competitive doctoral program in biochemistry. After completing a biochemistry degree in only three years at Pacific, he will receive his diploma in May and head straight into the Ph.D. program.

The Alpha Chi Sigma gift came as a complete surprise to the University.

“The donation came out of the blue to us,” said Andreas Franz, professor and co-chair of the Department of Chemistry. “We are extremely grateful to the students of Alpha Chi Sigma for their generosity. They are not only supporting the short-term objective of helping the university match the Stauffer Challenge grant, but they do so much more: They are effectively investing in a commitment that the chemistry faculty and the University are making into the future education of students in chemistry and biochemistry.”

The students of Alpha Chi Sigma had long been raising funds to support the chapter’s mission of helping its members achieve their goals and ambitions as chemists through such activities as hosting benefit nights at local restaurants, peddling donuts outside of the University Center, or selling lab books to fellow students.

“One of the great things about Pacific is that people are so willing to give, and the students especially are so willing to give,” Follmer said. “Students here give their time, they donate to your cause, they are willing to support you in any way that they can.”

Before he leaves for UC Irvine, Follmer wanted to work with his fellow students to ensure that Pacific’s strong tradition of undergraduate research would continue for future chemists.

“I want another kid who, like me, really loves chemistry, to come here and be provided with the same environment and the same tools and opportunities for success that I had, and for that student to be even more successful than I had ever hoped to be,” Follmer said.

About The John Stauffer Charitable Trust

The John Stauffer Charitable Trust, a private foundation based in Pasadena, was established in 1974 under the Will of the late John Stauffer, a principal officer, director, and shareholder of the former Stauffer Chemical Co., founded in San Francisco in the 1880s. Following the wishes of Mr. Stauffer, the Trust primarily supports California hospitals, universities, and colleges. In recent years, the Trustees have emphasized grants to fund undergraduate student research in chemistry and biochemistry at such colleges and universities as University of the Pacific, California Lutheran, Caltech, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Occidental, Pepperdine, Pomona, Redlands, Scripps, UC Berkeley and Westmont.

About University of the Pacific

Established in 1851 as the first university in California, University of the Pacific prepares students for professional and personal success through rigorous academics, small classes, and a supportive and engaging culture. Widely recognized as one of the most beautiful private university campuses in the West, the Stockton campus offers more than 80 undergraduate majors in arts and sciences, music, business, education, engineering and computer science, and pharmacy and health sciences. The university’s distinctive Northern California footprint also includes the acclaimed Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco and the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. For more information, visit

Women Presidents’ Organization Unveils the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies Worldwide

Dramatic 203% Surge in Revenue Revealed in 2014 Data

New Orleans, LA (April 25, 2014) – The Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) has released its 7th Annual list of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/led companies around the globe. The 50 Fastest generated $4.9 billion in combined 2013 revenues and collectively employed 22,000 people. Compared with last year’s list, the total combined revenue of the 2014 winning companies grew by a dramatic 53%.

Thirty-One Gifts, a direct seller of exclusive, stylish and functional purses, totes, fashion accessories and organizing solutions, is the fastest-growing woman-led/owned company. Cindy Monroe, founder and chief executive officer who started the company in her basement in 2003, saw her company’s revenues grow exponentially in four years — from $38 million in 2009 to $760 million in 2013.

“The companies that made it onto our list this year reflect the continued resourcefulness of women-led businesses,” said Marsha Firestone, Ph.D., president and founder of WPO. “We saw production soaring, with an average revenue growth of 203% from 2009 to 2013. Not only is the financial growth of these companies impressive, it shows that women entrepreneurs are making inroads in non-traditional businesses, such as information technology and transportation. The growth of these women-led companies is particularly impressive as the world economic recovery struggles to gain traction. Privately held U.S. companies on average ended 2013 with annual sales growth of 5.4%, the slowest rate of sales growth since 2009,” Dr. Firestone added.

Strategic Communications, a Louisville-based provider of technology services run by Kathy Mills ranked second this year, nearly doubling the company’s revenues, from $45.4 million in 2011 to $97.3 million in 2013. WDS, Inc., an international warehousing, distribution and inventory management company, rounds out the top three. Jennifer Maier, chief executive officer and president, grew the company’s revenue from $13.2 million to $155.8 million in the past four years.

For the first time since its inception, the 2014 50 Fastest was opened to applicants on a global level, resulting in two international businesses in the top ten. Participating companies were ranked according to a sales growth formula that combines percentage and absolute growth. To be qualified for the ranking, businesses are required to be privately held, woman-owned/led companies with annual revenue of at least $500,000 by year end 2008.

More about the 2014 WPO 50 Fastest:

  • Average revenue grew from $32.6 million in 2009 to $98.8 million in 2013
  • Founded the business: 90%
  • Average age: 48
  • Average number of projected 2014 employees: 657

All 50 companies will be honored at a special event during the 2014 WPO Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA on Thursday, April 24, 2014. The awards reception will take place from 5:30 – 8:00 PM at the Sheraton Hotel New Orleans.

The WPO’s 2014 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies are:

About the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO)

The WPO is the ultimate affiliation for successful women entrepreneurs worldwide. In monthly meetings across the world, women from diverse industries invest time and energy in themselves and their businesses to drive their corporations to the next level. Local WPO chapters are coordinated by a professional facilitator and meet monthly to share business expertise and experience in a confidential setting. For more information, call 212-688-4114 or visit

Philanthropic Algorithmic Currency Hedge Fund

Philanthropic Algorithmic Currency Hedge Fund listed on Cayman Island Stock Exchange seeks crowdfunding, pledges ten percent of contributions to charity.

PORTSMOUTH, U.K.— Hedge fund management company Zulnet has devised a way to help investors save for the future while also donating to charity with an algorithmic trading system that helps interpret market behavior and price movements. The company is utilizing a crowdfunding campaign to raise £500,000 by June 20 to initiate the program.

Money raised by the campaign will cover the costs of setting up and listing the new hedge fund on the Cayman Island Stock Exchange as well as contribute accelerated trading capital for the program and pay for other operational costs. Consistent with the company’s philanthropic goals, 10 percent of the £500,000 goal will be donated to Oxfam, a charity that works in high poverty areas to find lasting solutions to worldwide hunger and suffering.

Rather than choosing between investing and donating money, Zulnet’s unique program allows investors to do both simultaneously. “Our company is the first listed Philanthropic Algorithmic Currency Hedge Fund that allows investors to designate part of their management fees and performance fees for charitable contributions,” said company spokesperson Nurulzulkarnain Ahmad. “Our company charges standard fees, but then donates one-third of those fees to a charity of the investor’s choice.”

Zulnet is able to donate a portion of their fees because the company is keeping operating costs low by choosing the Cayman Island Stock Exchange, which has no stamp duties or capital gains taxes. Also, the exchange requires no minimum subscription level for hedge funds. “Our goal is to create a constant flow of capital to charities,” said Ahmad. “We want our investors to find success, because the more they make and the higher their return, the more investor donates to charity.”

Those supporting Zulnet’s crowdfunding campaign can choose from three levels of support: £75 at the bronze level, £179 at the silver level, or £500 at the gold level. Bronze contributors will receive two currency trading books and their name listed on the contributor page. Silver contributors will receive the same perks, plus algorithmic currency trading system software. Gold contributors will receive all of these perks, plus a GoTab Dual Core 4GB tablet. Ten percent of all contributions will be donated to Oxfam.

About Zulnet

Zulnet is an algorithmic currency trading and hedge fund management company that donates one-third of its management fees and one-third of its performance fees to charities around the world. For more information or to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, visit

Project Contact Info

Press Contact: Nurulzulkarnain Ahmad


About L&C:

Crowdfund Marketing & Consulting Agent. We are dedicated in finding the coolest crowdfund projects of the web.

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Projects Abroad Expands Volunteer Projects to Uganda

International Volunteer Organization Opens up Service Projects for Care and Teaching Placements in Jinja

A Care Placement in Jinja

NEW YORK – April 24, 2014 – As voluntourism and volunteering abroad continue to become increasingly popular among students and professionals looking for meaningful travel opportunities and international work experience, international volunteer organization Projects Abroad is once again expanding its borders by offering new service projects in Uganda.

The organization has opened a year-round office in Jinja, with full-time support staff to coordinate projects and offer 24-hour backup to volunteers. Volunteers can help care for children in day care centers, kindergartens, and orphanages or teach English in public schools. Volunteers working in Care placements have the critical role of providing children with the extra attention that busy local staff are often unable to give. Volunteers at public schools help improve students’ conversational skills and can also teach a variety of subjects including Art, Drama, and Music. In either role, by assisting with the education of local children and providing general support, volunteers can make a valuable contribution to their host community.

The minimum commitment to volunteer in Uganda is two weeks and volunteers can start anytime and choose their own duration.

“Each year we see an increasing number of students, professionals, and even retired professionals wanting to volunteer abroad. It is an experience that appeals to a wide range of people and it does not have to involve lengthy time commitments and restrictive application processes,” says Thomas Pastorius, Jr., Vice President of Projects Abroad. “At Projects Abroad, our volunteer projects are practical and accessible for all ages and skill levels.”

Projects Abroad has over 600 expert staff worldwide to ensure that volunteers are safe and that projects are productive and sustainable, enabling volunteers to focus on the important work they came to do.

For more information on volunteering in Uganda with Projects Abroad, visit

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.

Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 29 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States.

For details on volunteering overseas, visit Projects Abroad’s web site at

RIOULT Dance NY Searches For A New Home – Hope Greenfield Donates $500,000

RIOULT Dance NY, a leading American modern dance company with a classic sensibility, has been searching for a long-term home in an effort to better serve the community, grow their patronage and set up a companion school for the company. Recently, Hope Greenfield, chairwoman of Rioult’s Board of Directors donated $500,000 through her family foundation, the Gordon and Harriet Greenfield Foundation, to support the company’s search.

“The extremely generous gift from the Gordon & Harriet Greenfield Foundation is a ‘gift of life’ for my dance company. It has given life to our dream of building a dance center in New York City – a long-term goal that is suddenly very real. With this gift, Hope Greenfield has inspired and challenged us to raise matching funds, plan carefully, operate responsibly, and above all, succeed. This is a very exciting time for RIOULT Dance NY.” -Pascal Rioult

Hope Greenfield joined RIOULT Dance NY’s Board in 2005 and is now the Chair of the Board. The Gordon & Harriet Greenfield Foundation has been a long-standing annual contributor of the Company enabling Pascal Rioult to create new works and to integrate live music in performances. It has also been a stable provider of funds for general operations. In 2008, the Foundation commissioned the creation of “Views of the Fleeting World,” a piece choreographed by Pascal Rioult and set to J.S. Bach’s “The Art of Fugue.” For a long time it was Hope’s dream to have the foundation support the development of a dance center for RIOULT Dance NY. In 2013 this dream became a reality when the Gordon & Harriet Foundation dissolved and the Foundation decided to give a large gift to RIOULT Dance NY.

RIOULT Dance NY, celebrating its 20th Anniversary in the 2013-2014 Season, fast became an established name in modern dance with a reputation for bringing the sensual, articulate, and musical dance works of Pascal Rioult to audiences worldwide. The twelve-dancer company, based in New York City, is led by husband-and-wife team Artistic Director/Choreographer Pascal Rioult and Associate Artistic Director Joyce Herring – both former Martha Graham Dance Company principal dancers. With an established repertoire of over 40 dances that expands each year, RIOULT Dance NY presents an annual New York Season and tours nationally and abroad. In addition, in-school arts education and community outreach have been integral to the company since its inception, introducing students and families to the art of modern dance.

Major supporters of RIOULT Dance NY: Fund for New Works, a Kenneth French Legacy; Gordon & Harriet Greenfield Foundation; The Geoffrey C. Hughes Foundation; Harkness Foundation for Dance; The Lepercq Charitable Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The O’Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation; and The Shubert Foundation.


New Report Explores Responsible Exit in Microfinance Equity Sales

Washington, D.C., 23 April 2014: A report released today by CGAP and the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) analyzes how equity investors can exit responsibly from microfinance institutions in which they have invested. The Art of the Responsible Exit in Microfinance Equity Sales provides a framework for development-oriented investors to use in evaluating their exit options and balancing their exit tradeoffs.

Based on interviews with 50 industry experts and an analysis of six case studies of equity sales, the report explores the concept of a responsible exit along four strategic decisions: when to sell, who to sell to, with what conditions and at what price.

Many microfinance investors have committed to responsible finance principles. With equity holdings increasingly maturing, they will be facing questions of how to ensure continued responsible behavior by microfinance institutions and the healthy development of the broader market. As the practice of selling equity in microfinance institutions is still evolving, the report draws on emerging investor experiences to highlight key exit-related decision points that investors will face, rather than setting out specific guidelines.

“Exiting responsibly is an art of tradeoffs,” comments Daniel Rozas, lead author of the report. “There is no single approach to ensure a responsible exit. The final decision will be a balancing act between competing factors such as market context, size of share sold, ownership structure, governance arrangements or the stage of the institution’s life cycle.”

Deborah Drake, Vice President, Investing in Inclusive Finance, at CFI points out: “The topic of responsible exit is very timely as many equity investors in microfinance want to play an active governance role with their partners. They have an opportunity to raise the question of a responsible exit at the board level earlier and optimize the outcome.”

The report also examines the special role of development finance institutions (DFIs) and how their exits can encourage responsible market development. “The way DFIs exit can send important signals to other market players.” says Katharine McKee, Senior Advisor at CGAP. “By integrating dimensions of responsible market development in their exits decisions, DFIs can influence the market by way of example and crowding-in other investors.”

About CGAP

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor works toward a world in which everyone has access to the financial services they need to improve their lives. CGAP develops innovative solutions for financial inclusion through practical research and active engagement with financial service providers, policy makers, and funders. Established in 1995 and housed at the World Bank, CGAP combines a pragmatic approach to market development with an evidence-based advocacy platform to advance poor people’s access to finance. Our global network of members includes over 30 development agencies, private foundations, and national governments that share a common vision of improving the lives of poor people with better access to finance. More at:

About the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion

The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) helps bring about the conditions to achieve full financial inclusion around the world. Constructing a financial inclusion sector that reaches everyone with quality services will require the combined efforts of many actors. CFI contributes to full inclusion by collaborating with sector participants to tackle challenges beyond the scope of any one actor, moving from thought leadership to action. More at:

PENCIL Names David Weiner as New President

Former NYC DOE Deputy Chancellor to Lead Innovative Work to Improve New York’s Public Schools

PENCIL, one of New York’s leading education nonprofits, today announced the appointment of David Weiner, formerly Deputy Chancellor at New York City’s Department of Education (DOE), as its new President. His charge will be to deepen and expand PENCIL’s growing role in improving the city’s public schools by drawing on the vast talent and expertise of NYC’s business community and its leadership.

Mr. Weiner, a former public school principal, was formerly Deputy Chancellor for Talent, Labor and Innovation at DOE, where he spearheaded the system’s groundbreaking iZone program. iZone implemented 21st century learning practices in City schools and brought technology leaders and educators together to better prepare students for college and careers.

He will apply that experience to PENCIL, which has helped to fuel the national movement of private-public partnerships at public schools since its founding in 1995. Originally known primarily for its annual “Principal for a Day” activities, PENCIL has refined its model in recent years and today operates year-round programs targeting the intersection of school needs and business expertise in such critical areas as school leadership, college and career readiness, and family engagement. The organization has been at the forefront of the workforce development issue through PENCIL Fellows, which provides over 100 NYC high school students with professional training and hands-on experience through paid summer internships at local businesses each year.

PENCIL’s programs have a demonstrated impact across the city, operating in more than 300 schools that serve over 200,000 students annually: More than 90% of principals engaged in strategic, long-term school-business partnerships said their PENCIL Partnership helped improve their school climate and/or student performance last year. And 98% of 2013 PENCIL Fellows say their experience influenced their future academic or career plans.

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to lead this dynamic organization as President of PENCIL,” said Mr. Weiner. “As a teacher, principal, and education policy maker, I have seen first-hand that PENCIL’s models of school partnerships are in the forefront of education reform. I am looking forward to working with my new PENCIL colleagues and with our Board and partners to expand and increase PENCIL’s work to impact as many students, families, teachers, and principals as possible.”

“David has unparalleled education experience, having worked at nearly every level in public education,” said PENCIL Board of Directors Chair Howard Chatzinoff, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. “As an educator, he understands the critical need for PENCIL’s proven models of school-business partnerships, and recognizes that they represent an incredibly effective way to transform public education. David’s unique blend of on-the-ground experience and track record of finding and championing innovative new programs make him the perfect fit for PENCIL. On behalf of our Board of Directors, I am delighted to welcome him.”

“I have had the privilege of working with both David and with PENCIL for many years,” said New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Our schools benefit enormously from the work of its school-business partners. I am thrilled to see such a capable leader taking the helm of an organization that is finding new and innovative ways to support our teachers, principals, families, and students.”

“David is one of New York’s education policy trailblazers,” said Dr. John King, Commissioner of the New York State Education Department. “He will bring a dynamic approach to improving our schools through his leadership of this important organization.”

Mr. Weiner’s appointment follows the departure of Michael Haberman, PENCIL’s president for the last seven years, who left the organization in January to join JPMorgan Chase’s Global Philanthropy team as Managing Director for the Northeast Region. David succeeds Interim Executive Director Richard Burns, who has served in that capacity since January.

Prior to his work at DOE, Mr. Weiner served as Chief Academic Officer and Associate Superintendent of Academics for the School District of Philadelphia from 2008 to 2011. He was a principal in Brooklyn and in San Francisco from 2001 to 2008, and prior to that worked as an elementary school teacher. He resides in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.


Celebrities Begin 10-Day Countdown To The Wings For Life World Run

Thousands Running For Those Who Can’t

DATE: Wednesday 23rd April 2014



TIME: 13:15 GMT

B-ROLL FOOTAGE: B-Roll Footage Available Free of Charge and Without Copyright Restriction, and Includes:

  • GVs run preparation
  • IVs David Coulthard, Formula One Driver
  • IVs Mark Webber, Formula One Driver
  • IVs Colin Jackson, Athlete
  • IVs Lindsey Vonn, alpine ski racer
  • IVs Orlando Duque, cliff diver
  • IVs Antia Gerharder, CEO Wings for Life

Wednesday 23rd April: In just ten days history will be made when thousands of runners of all ages and abilities will take part in the first-ever Wings for Life World Run. Representatives from 136 nations will all set off at the same time at events in 32 different countries, across six continents.

Wings for Life aims to raise awareness of spinal cord damage and money for spinal cord research. Austria and Taiwan’s events are now at capacity however there are still places available at the remaining 30 Wings for Life events. The best male and best female runners, plus one randomly selected runner, will win a round the World trip of a lifetime.

What makes the Wings for Life World Run different from other running events is that a moving finish line will be chasing the runners from behind instead of the runners dashing towards a defined finish line. The run starts at precisely 10am UTC and will end hours later when the last male and female runners are reached by one of the Catcher Cars.

The winners of the first Wings for Life World Run will win an unforgettable highlight-filled journey featuring stops in Salzburg, Istanbul, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Sydney, Fiji, Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro. At each destination, the winners will be given the red carpet treatment with priceless experiences ranging from aerobatic flights to meeting sporting and business legends.

One runner picked at random will also join the two winners on this trip of a lifetime – so everybody from amateurs to Olympians will know they are racing for an amazing prize and a good cause.

Although the run is open to participants 18 years or older of all shapes, sizes and abilities there are several favourites to win the race; Takahiro Sunada, a Japanese ultramarathon runner who holds the world record for 100 kilometers (6:13:33) and Italy’s three-time ultramarathon world champion Giorgio Calcaterra. Sunada will be running Austria while Calcaterra will run in his homeland but they will not be the only ones battling for a win.

Hundreds of top athletes have already signed up to support and take part including; Red Bull Racing’s three-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel (Germany), former Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan (Ireland), Alpine skiing champion Lindsey Vonn (USA), former Formula One drivers Mark Webber (Australia) and David Coulthard (Great Britain), Alpine skiier Aksel Lund Svidal (Norway), pole vaulter and Olympic gold medalist Steve Hooker (Australia), rugby legend Dan Carter (New Zealand), windsurfing hero Robbie Naish (USA), Red Bull Air Race World Champion Hannes Arch (Austria) and actor-model Wang Li Ya (taking part in Taiwan).

The Wings for Life World Run is above all about competing while raising funds for spinal cord research and awareness for spinal cord damage itself – “running for those who can’t”. Millions of people around the world are living with a spinal cord injury. Every year, at least 250,000 more sustain a traumatic spinal cord injury but advancement in spinal cord research is largely based on private initiatives. As a non-profit foundation, Wings for Life relies on donations. The foundation guarantees that 100 percent of all donations are used exclusively for research purposes.

With just 10 days left and some races already full it’s time to sign up at:

Caregivers: The Unsung (and Quietly Suffering) Heroes

This is a guest post from Melissa Thompson, CEO of TalkSession, a rapidly growing online therapy and digital healthcare company. 

The World’s Toughest Job” online job advertisement led to a viral video compilation of the 24 applicants interviews. The candidates vied for a position described to offer 135-hour workweeks, no vacations, no breaks no pay, and required degrees in medicine, the culinary arts and finance. [Spoiler alert] While “mother” was the role described, the role of caregiver was my first guess.

There are 85 million mothers in the United States. Not far behind (and often overlapping), every year more than 65 million Americans provide care to someone who is ill, disabled, or aged. AARP’s Public Policy Institute’s report, “Valuing the Invaluable,” estimated that this hidden segment of our healthcare system represented $450 billion of unpaid, unaccounted for, services in 2009.

Our population is aging and mental health is a pervasive and growing issue in elderly. The role of caregivers will become more critical then ever. Our healthcare system is not prepared for the dire consequences of psychiatric syndromes and conditions that our will be face as the population ages – both for the aging population, as well as their caregivers.

The geriatric age group is the fastest-growing segment of the population. These users of healthcare services will rapidly overwhelm the resources available to them, and their caregivers, as there an inadequate number of clinicians being trained for eldercare, and the necessity of provision of care to the caregivers is not widely recognized.

According to the National Institute of Health (N.I.H.), “it is estimated that 24.3 million people worldwide have dementia, with 4.6 million new cases of dementia every year” and the number of people affected is expected to double every 20 years to reach 81.1 million by 2040. This impending health crisis will inundate the healthcare system, creating emotional and financial burdens for families, with caretakers struggling to fill gaps in health services.

Caregivers, often overlooked, struggle with feelings of guilt, isolation, resentment and depression. The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy’s research concluded that 50% of family caregivers had clinically significant depression. Caregivers also experience higher levels of anxiety, physical illness, and risk of death. Frequently without proper support of their own, increasingly overworked caregivers hang on in exhaustion, constantly aware of their own fragile mental states. It is important to recognize the mental health and wellness of caregivers as they are a critical piece of care for the elderly.

At TalkSession, we strive to increase patient’s access to quality mental healthcare across the care continuum. Related to our work in geriatrics, I conducted an interview with a caregiver who highlights the desperation of her dilemma. Sadly, Stacy’s story is all too typical.

Stacy was 34 years old when she started caring for her father full-time – a role she took on “in an instant,” as she recalled her initial days as a caregiver. “I just noticed there was a change in his voice, as though he wasn’t quite certain who was on the other line.” Stacy quickly made her way from her Atlanta home to her father in New York City. What she discovered still impacts her years later as she continues to balance the needs of her father with the needs of her family.

Stacy found her father locked in his home, which had become a toxic environment due to hoarding. His body had been ravaged by illness and lack of care. “I often wonder if I had gotten to him earlier if the outcome would have been different,” she shares. “I feel like I should have known. There were signs, just not very obvious signs. He was adamant about no longer using Skype, but it had been our way of keeping him connected to his grandchildren. Why would he suddenly not want to use it at all?”

In trying to keep his changes in appearance and the shame of the condition of his home a secret, Stacy’s father was creating distance from family and friends. Over a two-year period Stacy learned that her once outgoing father had managed to hide his condition from all of his family and friends, “He had forced everyone away and I didn’t realize it.”

This common problem is too often a reality and it presents an even deeper issue as the success of treatment can depend on early intervention. “In a two week period I learned that my father had not only Early Onset Dementia, but also tiny masses in his lungs and prostate, believed to be cancer.” Stacy’s father, just 62 at the time was otherwise healthy, active, and a non-smoker.

“I wasn’t prepared. I went from being the daughter he cared for, to a stranger. He didn’t know me; his rejection of me was difficult. I felt guilt and shame all at once.” Unprepared for what would come next Stacy sought out resources for treatment – resources that were largely unavailable.

With siblings scattered throughout the country, it became evident she would have to take on this responsibility alone. “I have 3 brothers, one is married, the other two are fairly young, but somehow I thought when it came to dad we would share in decision making and care.” This couldn’t have been further from reality. In fact, the reality for Stacy was that she became the only person involved with her father’s medical care. Making decisions was left to her discretion. Her once tight bond with her siblings has become non-existent as the conversations have become more difficult.

Stacy shared that at times she feels isolated and that her siblings avoid her to avoid dealing with their own feelings about their father. “It is a struggle,” she says, “making plans is fragile. I am always aware that all plans could be derailed depending on how dad’s day shapes up.”

Dealing with medication, incontinence, and adult proofing a home are the unimagined but all too real daily chores that have become a part of Stacy’s life. This comes at a heavy price, seriously adversely affecting her career, relationships and family.

“I don’t complain, he took care of me,” she shares, “but it is a burden. I feel guilty that I sometimes want him to just say thank you, but so many days he thinks I am his enemy who has him trapped.”

According to Pew Research, over 1 out of every 8 Americans is a part of the “Sandwich Generation” – providing care for a parent while simultaneously raising a child. Through my work with TalkSession, I spoke with a geriatric nurse, who expressed the difficulties of this dichotomy:

“The hardest thing has been watching my two year-old grandchild grow and develop, while watching my mother decline. They approached each other at one point in terms of abilities: my mother declining and my grandchild developing. And then they separated with my grandchild learning new things and my mother forgetting them. Living this tragedy and being a victim is horrific; the only thing that is somewhat consoling, is the knowledge that my mother is unaware of her disease and that the main burden of “living with Alzheimer’s” rests on my shoulders, not hers. Some days, though, I am unable to see her as a nurse would and the realization hits me that this is my mother.”

Caregiver burden will likely become a recurrent theme in larger mental health crisis. The impact of this is larger than most realize, as the depth of the link between physical illness and mental illness is still unknown.

As for those who will need care, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that in 2013, 15.5 million family and friends provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. To put a dollar figure on that care it amounts to $220.2 billion, with more than 60% of this care being provided by women. The burden of caregiving is responsible for an additional 9.3 billion dollars in health care costs for caregivers, with 1/3 of caregivers reporting symptoms of depression.

As we embrace new healthcare mandates, it is critical that mental health for geriatric patients is a conversation that is at the forefront of our dialogue because we will need to provide specialty care for these individuals as well as the people who devote time to care for them.

The impending surge in cases of dementia creates an urgent need to take aggressive action now to address the needs of our aging population and their families, because these are the tough jobs that need to be filled.


Closing The Gender Gap And Increasing Youth Participation In Agriculture Offers Solutions To Global Food Crisis

During the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) Food Tank and GFAR will showcase women’s and youth’s importance in family farming.

CHICAGO, IL – CHICAGO, ILFood Tank: The Food Think Tank and The Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) are excited to announce they will be collaborating this year around the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). The goal of this partnership is to tackle the complexities surrounding the global food crisis while offering innovative and tangible solutions. Food Tank and GFAR will showcase and raise awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders as well as help identify ways to support family farmers.

The focus will be ways in which organizations, businesses, governments, and other stakeholders around the world are empowering women and youth and strengthening their role in agriculture. Food Tank and GFAR will publish research, weekly articles, opinion editorials, column articles, newsletters, social media campaigns, infographics, and videos.

According to GFAR, 2.5 billion people depend on agriculture. And globally, the average age of farmers is around 55 years—in Europe, one-third of farmers are under 35 and in the United States 50 percent of farmers are 55 years or older.

It’s time to cultivate the next generation of food system leaders—young farmers, agricultural entrepreneurs, agronomists, extension agents and educators, researchers and scientists, and policy-makers who can create a more sustainable food system.

“Increased access to education means that young people can be a force for innovation on family farms, increasing incomes and well-being for not only farmers, but also local communities. Young people can develop the agricultural sector by applying new technologies to current work methods,” says Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary of GFAR.

In addition, women comprise 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, according to the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). But they often face discrimination and lack access to resources, financial services, inputs, and education.

“This gender inequality comes at a huge cost, not just for women, but society as a whole. Discrimination against women can undermine economic development by limiting food security for families and preventing women and girls from achieving greater opportunities in education. In addition, many agricultural research and development programs ignore the needs and hopes of women farmers,” said Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank.

GFAR provides an open forum for stakeholders across the agricultural spectrum—from researchers and organizations to farmers—to participate in collaborative discussion and action around the current and future state of agriculture. Food Tank helps to reframe the current policy conversation about the global food system through public education, convening and events, aggregation and dissemination of current research and innovation, and execution of new, independent research. Jointly, during 2014, these organizations will strengthen and transform the role of women and youth in agriculture around the world.

About Food Tank

Food Tank: The Food Think Tank (, founded by Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson, is a think tank focused on feeding the world better. We research and highlight environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty, and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.

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