Dear Friends of the Scripps Gerontology Center,
It is my great honor to be named the 6th Executive Director in the 100-year history of the Center. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and give you a glimpse into the future I see for Scripps.
As an undergraduate student at Indiana University, I worked part-time for the YMCA as well as the Older Americans Center. Jumping from serving congregate meals to filling in during euchre tournaments to teaching Arthritis Aquatics classes opened my eyes to the broader field of gerontology. In addition, I was fortunate to work on a research project that explored ways older adults could improve their balance and successfully recruited the members I met from the Older Americans Center to participate in the study. My interest in research continued to build, leading me to the MGS program at Miami University in 1995 where I was a graduate assistant for Drs. Bob Atchley and Suzanne Kunkel. I completed my summer practicum working with Dr. Powell Lawton at the Philadelphia Geriatric Center’s Polisher Research Institute.
I still had questions that I needed answers to so I continued my education with a doctorate in sociology at Case Western Reserve University with specializations in aging, medical sociology, and research methods. After graduation, I went to work for the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing as a research faculty member. For seven years I worked closely with Dr. Mary Naylor before returning to the Polisher Research Institute to work with Dr. Kimberly Van Haitsma on preference-based, person-centered care.
In 2014 I returned to Miami as an assistant professor. After securing over $2.9 million in external funding and publishing 50+ peer-reviewed articles, I was promoted to professor of gerontology in 2022. My work focuses on the intersections of preference-based, person-centered care for older adults living with dementia using implementation science theories, frameworks, and methods. I currently have funding from the National Institute on Aging IMPACT Collaboratory, which you can learn more about in the pages of this report. One of the nursing home communities participating in the IMPACT grant collaborated with me before I started the MGS program. I taught chair exercises for their residents and when I walked back into the community 30 years later it felt like my career had come full circle.
The future of the Scripps Gerontology Center is dynamic and exciting. At our core is the dedication to serve the mission of the Center to do work that makes a positive difference in the lives of aging individuals, their families and communities, and to meet the needs of aging societies. We will continue to collaborate with our aging network, state, and federal partners. I am committed to using Agile methodologies as a way for our teams to continuously improve their processes. Enjoy summaries of our centennial celebration along with other major accomplishments in this annual report. I welcome your thoughts, drop me an email at abbottkm@MiamiOH.edu.
Katherine Abbott, Ph.D., MGS, FGSA Executive Director, Scripps Gerontology Center Professor of Gerontology, Department of Sociology and Gerontology, Miami University