Healthy Aging Conference Presenter Bios

We are pleased to have assembled such a eclectic mix of talented, experienced professionals.

Pamela Beidler, MS, is the Director of Programs and Outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association. She has a Masters in Healthcare Administration and has been working in the field of healthcare and human services for over ten years. She is a Certified Dementia Practitioner with a passion for working with our community’s most vulnerable populations and finding ways to empower individuals through health education.

Diane Bousquet is an occupational therapy assistant with twenty years’ experience in geriatric and orthopedic rehabilitation.  Diane joined Grace Cottage in 2009.  She is a graduate of the New Hampshire Technical College. Diane grew up in Townshend and has lived in Westminster for nearly 25 years where she and her husband raised two children.

Mark Boutwell is the Director of Social Services for Senior Solutions Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont. In this role, he supervises the Senior Helpline and provides program oversight of Choices for Care (CFC) and Older Americans Act (OAA) case management services. Mark administers several state, federal and private grants such as the Dementia Respite grant and the National Family Caregiver Support grant. Mark is a trained Person-Centered Options Counselor and an Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support group facilitator. He received his Masters of Arts in Education with a specialization in Psychiatric Rehabilitation from Johnson State College.

Dr. Jesper Brickley is a graduate of Evergreen State College in Washington State and of the Western University of Health Science in California. He completed his residency at Rose Family Medicine in Colorado. He joined the staff of Grace Cottage Family Health in 2015 and has recently established a direct primary care practice at Hearthstone Health.

Caroline Chase, MS, is a licensed psychotherapist with over 38 years of experience counseling couples, families and individuals with varying diagnoses, ranging from anxiety, depression, addictions, PTSD to chronic illnesses.  She has worked extensively with Hospice, cancer and AIDS patients and has facilitated numerous groups, including bereavement groups, cancer support groups and groups dealing with addictions.  She has a special passion for working with the bereaved.

Ruth Fleming is a physical therapist who graduated from the University of Vermont and has practiced in a variety of settings around the country.  She returned to VT in 2004 and has worked at Grace Cottage since 2006. Ruth anchors the weekend PT program at Grace Cottage Hospital and focuses on inpatient rehab.

Dr. Michael Gigante has been a psychotherapist in private practice for the past 35 years, mostly based in Brattleboro, Vt.  He is the Keynote Speaker for the second day of the conference, and will be discussing the mind’s role in physical well-being and healthy aging. This is a subject in which he had developed expertise through his own health crises, and about which he has taught in the US, Canada, Europe, and Russia.

Elizabeth Harrison, CCN, is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist and member of the international and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists. She is a Health Coach for Grace Cottage Family Clinic and has been in practice for over 40 years.

Jim Kowalski, ordained in the Episcopal Church since 1978, has served parishes in Newton, Hartford and Darien CT.  After 16 years, he has just become Dean Emeritus of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City.  Jim lives in Townshend, VT with his wife, the Reverend Anne A. Brewer, M.D.  He has been a hospital chaplain as well as a parish pastor.  Jim has consulted Chambers of Commerce, community leadership development organizations, traveled around the world for interfaith NGOs and has served on various social service and not-for-profit boards creating and overseeing affordable and supportive housing and other community projects.

Mike Mandracchia has been working in corporate and personal finance for over 35 years, the past 21 in Vermont. Currently with The Richards Group where they focus on advisory work to companies offering financial wellness programs and retirement plans as well as individual wealth management. Mike lives in Whitingham, VT with his wife of 39 years, Carol.

Crystal Mansfield, OTR/L, is the Director of Rehabilitation Services, Wellness Programs at Grace Cottage. She also heads the Community Health Team. Crystal earned her B.S. in occupational therapy from Eastern Kentucky University. Her interests include hand therapy and wellness. Crystal is also a certified yoga instructor and offers yoga classes twice per week at Grace Cottage.

Bill Monahan, RN, is one of Grace Cottage’s Community Health Team Outreach Coordinators. Bill received his AA in Liberal Studies from Berkshire Community College, his AS in Nursing from Greenfield Community College, and his BA in Health Advocacy from UMass Amherst.

Lydia Thomson is the Artistic Director of the River Gallery School in Brattleboro, VT, and a working artist. She teaches art to adults of all ages and at all levels, with an emphasis on accessing innate creativity and opening to the joy of making art.

Joanna Rueter, MSW, is the Coordinator of Taking Steps, the Advance Care Planning Project of Brattleboro Area Hospice. The project’s goal is to have every adult in Windham County (age 19-109) complete and register their own advance directive.  Experience with deaths in her own family and others has made her passionate about the need for end-of-life conversations, far in advance.

Kenn Van Cott, DPharm, has been a licensed pharmacist for nearly 45 years. He recently retired as the Director of Pharmacy at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, a position he held for 23 years.

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