8:45–9:15 a.m.

Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:15–10:00 a.m.

Opening Remarks

Keynote: Living Life Like It’s Golden: Keys to Wellness and Well-being

Keynote Speaker: Sandra M. Charles, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Health Services Division, Library of Congress

Dr. Sandra M. Charles is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, auntie, physician, educator, leader, mentor, and champion. She was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, and after earning various awards for her academic achievements in high school, her ambition led her to immigrate to the U.S. to pursue higher education. There, she earned her undergraduate degree, cum laude from the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, then went on to graduate from the Howard University College of Medicine with honors. She completed her medical residency training in Internal Medicine at Howard University. She was also awarded a graduate certificate in the business of medicine from the Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University and a graduate certificate in executive faculty development from Morehouse School of Medicine. With decades of experience practicing medicine and serving the community, Dr. Charles is recognized for her medical expertise, her compassion and empathy in building relationships with patients, facilitating successful multidisciplinary collaboration, and her exemplary leadership skills.

At the Library of Congress, Dr. Charles is the chief medical officer and chief of the Health Services Division. She has worked in the occupational health, medicine, and safety field, providing outstanding medical care and public health education as well as managing the ever-evolving integration of technology into the practice of medicine for three decades. For the Health Services Division, she initiated the integration and implementation of information technology capabilities. Her passions are mental health, gerontology, outreach to marginalized communities, life-long learning, and prevention.

10:15–11:00 a.m.

Session Descriptions

Even in the Darkness, Finding Light

It’s only natural to want to run from the darkness and look for the light in our lives. But darkness — like grief, fear, and despair — isn’t wrong or bad. At this gathering we’ll talk about ways to be with darkness and find light along the way. 


  • Jackie Naginey Hook
    Jackie Naginey Hook is a spiritual director, celebrant, and end-of-life doula whose work helps people find hope, healing, and wholeness. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program with Koch Funeral Home, which includes creating memorable funeral ceremonies and remembrance services, community outreach, and end-of-life support. Jackie also offers individual and group spiritual direction, programs, and retreats in loss, spirituality, and forgiveness; facilitates Learning to Live: What’s Your Story? and HEART – Helping Empty Arms Recover Together; and writes articles for the Centre Daily Times, Centre County Gazette, and Centered magazine. She has a B.S. in business from Penn State and an M.A. in wellness from the University of Central Florida. 

Lifestyle and the Aging/Mature Adult

This workshop explores important habits needed for aging adults to lead healthy lives. As we age, our physiology changes, so adjustments are needed to accommodate these changes. Through relevant up to date information, research findings, best practices, and actionable items, participants can gain important insights on healthy aging, wellness habits, and important geriatric concepts


  • Sandra M. Charles, MD (see keynote biography above)

Is 60 the New 40? Understanding Our Expected Lifespans

We are living longer. There is no doubt about that. Over the coming decades, we will see numerous changes to the aging landscape. One such change is how long we can expect to live. This session will address the changes that have led to our extended lifespans, as well as how we can begin to prepare for it.


  • Kristopher Struckmeyer, PhD
    Dr. Kristopher Struckmeyer is an assistant teaching professor at Penn State. Prior to joining Penn State, he spent two years as the adult development and aging specialist for Oklahoma Cooperative Extension, educating the county educators and the public at-large about pressing aging issues.

11:15 a.m.–Noon

Session Descriptions

Nature Journaling

Nature journaling is the practice of drawing and writing in and about the natural world. When we pay attention to our surroundings, we become deeper observers, cultivate curiosity, and strengthen our connection to the natural world. Alexa will give an introduction to nature journaling and then allow time for you to create your own entry on a seasonal phenomenon. At the end of the session, participants will have the opportunity to share their entries and reflect together.


  • Alexa Sarussi
    Alexa Sarussi is Shaver’s Creek’s school program director and nature journaling coordinator. She loves that nature journaling brings together a diverse community of naturalists and artists, of all levels and ages, to connect with nature and each other through art.  

How YOU Can Use Age-Friendly Care

This presentation will teach you about the 4Ms framework and how it applies to you on your health care journey. Using the 4Ms framework brings focus to What Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility, and when put into practice, this framework improves the care you receive. Together, we will work through the 4Ms Worksheet to see how the 4Ms can help you manage your own health in ways that are unique and special to only you!


  • Erica Husser, PhD
    Erica Husser is the project director for Age-Friendly Care, PA. Dr. Husser’s content expertise is in adult development and aging. Her academic work has included the study of older women’s perceptions of the role of the natural environment in their daily lives, health adaptations to chronic disease management, and intergenerational relationships and programming. Dr. Husser draws on her experiences with research, health and science policy analysis, teaching, leadership, and communications to help direct and guide this collaborative. Spreading knowledge about how to care for older adults in ways that maximize their health, where they live, will add quality to everyone’s lives who are involved in each older adult’s life and not just their own. None of us is alone. It takes a village.  
  • Jenny Knecht-Fredo, CRNP
    Jenny Knecht-Fredo earned a dual master’s degree in family nurse practitioner studies and nursing education from Penn State. Jenny has extensive experience in geriatrics, endocrinology, hospice, wellness health evaluations, and clinical instruction. Jenny is passionate about patient empowerment and clinical policy development to improve geriatric health outcomes. She serves as the clinical liaison between the Penn State College of Nursing and the Primary Health Network (PHN). Jenny has been instrumental in developing the collaborative relationship between Penn State and PHN. 

Why Being Mindful Matters

Mindfulness is not merely a good idea or a clever technique or a passing fad. The practice of mindfulness has been shown to exert a powerful influence on one’s health, well-being, and happiness as attested to by scientific and medical evidence. This session will cover what mindfulness is and what it isn’t and why mindfulness matters. Attendees will engage in practices that can be used daily to slowly help mindfulness become interwoven in their lives. A short note on how the stress hormone, cortisol, is affected by mindfulness will conclude the session.


  • Kathy Maxwell, PhD
    Dr. Kathy Maxwell is a Certified Health Education Specialist and is also certified as a mindfulness instructor through The Center for KORU Mindfulness. Prior to retirement, Kathy worked and taught wellness courses at Penn State for more than twenty-five years. 

Social Media: The Ups and Downs of Participation and Privacy

Participating in social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, can offer both camaraderie and frustration. Join staff from Schlow Centre Region Library for a walk-through of account creation and the upsides of connecting online with friends and family. Additionally, we’ll show you how to manage built-in privacy controls, what they do (and don’t do) for you, and how to avoid the most common kinds of spam, scams, and disinformation.


  • Maria Burchill
    Maria K. Burchill, MLIS, is head of adult services for Schlow Centre Region Library in State College, PA, where she manages collections, programming, and services for teens and adults. Maria has trained users on both computer and mobile device use for more than eight years.
  • Nathaniel Rasmussen
    Nathaniel Rasmussen facilitates human and tech solutions at Schlow Centre Region Library, where he has helmed IT Services for 21 years. His interest in technology has always been through the lens of how to best provide public access to information. Nathaniel enjoys the many technological flavors involved in pursuit of such a dynamic goal: from networks and routers to Makerspace communities; killer web UX to statistical deep dives. When not working, he serves on numerous community nonprofit boards, enjoys helping regional nonprofits find sustainable technology, and cooks delicious meals for his family with whatever he can find fresh and local. Nathaniel was recently recognized by Library Journal as a “2018 Mover and Shaker” for his work building community partnerships in an effort to bring TV White Space to his community.

Noon–12:45 p.m.


12:45–1:30 p.m.

Session Descriptions

Visit the Klingsberg Aviary

Explore Litzinger Discovery Room and Stop by the Weidemann Bookstore and Gift Shop!

Take a Hike!

Boardwalk trail (0.25 miles)
Point trail (0.35 miles)

1:30–2:15 p.m.

Session Descriptions

Fostering Deeper Relationships with Nature

Participants will reflect on their relationship with more-than-human beings and their place in that relationship. Throughout the program, participants will have a chance to engage in critical small group discussions, personal reflection, and hands-on outdoor activities. Group discussion will close out the program as participants reflect on the experience and discuss how they might bring what they learned and practiced into their daily lives. 


  • Rosemary Aviste
    Rosemary Aviste is a Penn State graduate student working with Dr. Janet Swim in the Pro-Environmental Action Lab. Rosemary’s research interests include redefining human relationships and engagement with the more-than-human world to co-create sustainable futures for humans and more-than-humans. Rosemary also enjoys using transdisciplinary approaches to translate these ideas into transformative and critical outdoor education programs for adults.

Dance! Dance! Dance! An Evolution of Dance through the Ages

Come dance your way through 100+ years of dance evolution. We’ll walk through grand marches into court dances and country dances, waltz our way through the European influences on American dance, then Charleston, Swing, Swim, and Hustle our way into the line dances of today!  *This course requires active movement. Steps can be adapted from a sitting position or holding a chair. Please wear appropriate footwear.


  • Cynthia Mazzant
    Cynthia Mazzant is the artistic director of the Central PA Theatre and Dance Fest, co-artistic director of Tempest Productions, a registered consultant artist for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, an assistant teaching professor at Penn State, and a recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants for her work in drama and theatre in education. 

Flourishing at Home: Tools to Keep You Safe

Join a physical therapist and an occupational therapist in a discussion that can help keep you safe at home. In this session, we will review parts of the body that help keep you upright, go over exercise’s role in reducing fall risk, and learn about ways you can modify your home to allow you to thrive for the many years to come!


  • Mitchell Straub, DPT, GCS
    Dr. Mitchell Straub has been a practicing Physical Therapist for over 7 years here in the Centre County region. He completed both his undergraduate and graduate studies at Saint Francis University and since graduation, has spent the large majority of his career working with older adults. After three years of practice, he sat and passed the board examination for Geriatric Clinical Specialist through the ABPTS. He launched his own company in April of 2021 that specializes in helping older adults age successfully in the home by regaining and maintaining their independence.
  • Jennifer Rank, OTR/L, CDP
    Jennifer Rank is the education program specialist at the Tressa Nese and Helen Diskevich Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at the Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. She works as part of an interdisciplinary team to enhance expertise, execute programs, and expand knowledge of gerontological topics to future generations of nurses and the greater community. Jenny graduated from Elizabethtown College with a master’s degree in occupational therapy. She has worked in geriatrics for 8 years providing interventions to older adults aimed at maximizing independence and improving quality of life. She is registered through the National Board Certification of Occupational Therapists and is a Certified Dementia Practitioner.

Cognitive Aging — Strategies for Navigating Cognitive Challenges

We’re all getting older. But what are the effects of aging on the mind, and what can we do to age better? Cognitive aging is the study of how the mind and cognitive abilities change across the lifespan. Cognitive aging is a complex process. Some abilities like vocabulary, language comprehension, and general knowledge are stable and develop throughout adulthood, while others like memory and processing speed may show changes from middle-age onwards. We’ll discuss the cognitive changes that happen in adulthood and consider strategies for how we can effectively cope with those changes.


  • Michele Diaz, PhD
    Michele Diaz is the director of human imaging at the Social, Life, and Engineering Sciences Imaging Center and a professor of psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience at Penn State. Dr. Diaz’s research examines the relationship between cognition, aging, and the brain.

2:15–2:30 p.m.

Break — Afternoon Treat

2:30–3:15 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Closing Speaker: Dr. Marty Sliwinski, Gregory H. Wolf Professor of Aging Studies, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Director, Center for Healthy Aging

3:15 p.m.

Thanks for a Great Day!
Please feel free to stay and explore Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. The Weidemann Bookstore and Gift Shop is open!

OLLI at University Park twenty-fifth anniversary, 1997 to 2022Help Grow the “O”

In honor our 25 years of service, we are seeking to raise $25,000. Your gift will contribute to and sustain OLLI’s current and long-term success. It will ensure our ability to continue to provide a selection of high-quality, up-to-date programs and keep annual dues and course fees low, thus ensuring our programming is accessible to all members of the community.

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