Our Faculty

The faculty of The Hearthstone Institute is exceptional. Our training team consists of memory care experts who have extensive experience in research, evidence-based program development, care staff training and implementation skills for provider communities and residences.

Dr. John Zeisel, President

Dr. John Zeisel, President & Co-Founder of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care, Ltd.

Dr. John Zeisel is the co-founder and CEO of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care and an internationally known expert on dementia care and treatment innovations. With Hearthstone’s senior leadership team, Dr. Zeisel has used his experience and insights over the years to create the I’m Still Here® approach, the principles of which underpin our care philosophy as well as the Institute training programs for caregivers and staff.

John is the author of I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy of Alzheimer Care and of numerous academic and popular articles about treatment alternatives that do not rely on conventional pharmaceutical therapy to be effective.

John presents a community TV show entitled Hopeful Aging where he interviews researchers, politicians, medical professionals, journalists and artists committed to improving the lives of people with cognitive issues.

John earned a PhD at Columbia University and a Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He serves on committees for the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Association, the New York City Office for the Aging’s Alzheimer’s unit, the International Healthcare Institute, and the Center for Health Design.

John has published research related to the needs of seniors and those with cognitive issues, including post-occupancy evaluations and policy research studies. His active leadership and industry involvement for over two decades has resulted in award-winning design and planning guidebooks, successful housing developments, award-winning prototype facilities, and books and articles used internationally by developers, designers and service providers.

Sharon Johnson, Executive Vice President, Marketing

Sharon Johnson, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Director of the Hearthstone Institute

Sharon is Director of the Hearthstone Institute and is also a member of the faculty. She has been involved in the development of Hearthstone’s I’m Still Here® program since 2001. Sharon is a frequent presenter on the subject of evidence-based memory care, including multiple conference keynotes and numerous workshops.

Sharon has served in leadership positions for several Alzheimer-related non-profit organizations and is a member of many professional associations within the Alzheimer’s community.

Sharon co-developed all of the training modules presented by the Hearthstone Institute and the materials utilized in the training sessions. She consults worldwide on the efficacy of the I’m Still Here® Approach to dementia care to bring Hearthstone’s message of hope to those living with the challenges of memory impairment.

Sharon has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience and leads the Hearthstone team and affiliated organizations in all areas of marketing, including sales training, strategic marketing planning, and global branding. This is particularly useful to our Institute Partners in enabling them to translate their advanced program of care into enhanced marketplace reputation and advantage.

Sue Blackler, Executive Vice President, Quality of Care

Sue Blackler, Lead Instructor & Project Manager

Sue Blackler is an integral part of the development and implementation of the I’m Still Here® training system. She is also a key member of the development team for Hearthstone’s I’m Still Here® Pathways to Perfection operating guidelines.

Sue served as Hearthstone’s Vice President of Operations for 15 years, overseeing operations in all Hearthstone residences. In this role, Sue was responsible for the extensive dementia care training program provided to each new Hearthstone staff member.

Sue is now Vice President of Quality of Care for all of Hearthstone, and Lead Instructor of the Hearthstone Institute. Responsible for all issues related to the quality of care at the Hearthstone residences, Sue supervises staff training and mentoring, family relationships and managing clinical risk.

As a member of the senior faculty of the Hearthstone Institute, Sue puts her years of experience to good use by teaching exceptional quality dementia care to organizations worldwide. Her passion for enhancing the quality of life for persons living with dementia underlies all aspects of her work.

Michael Skrajner, Director of Research and Innovation

Michael Skrajner, Director of Research and Innovation & Lead Instructor

Michael Skrajner is the Director of Research and Innovation at Hearthstone. Mike oversees clinical trials of non-pharmacological interventions for dementia—primarily funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). He also designs and executes internal research projects for Hearthstone to develop the evidence base for the company’s programs and operations. As senior faculty of the Hearthstone Institute, Mike trains professionals and care providers nationally and globally on Hearthstone’s care approaches, including the I’m Still Here® Approach and Procedural Interval Learning, about which he has co-authored more than ten peer-reviewed articles.

Research topics aboutwhich Mike has managed funded research include: testing and developing reading materials adjusted to the particular cognitive levels of persons with dementia; creating a drama-based intervention for persons with dementia called Scripted-IMPROV; developing resident-led activities for persons with dementia in long-term care and adult day centers; and increasing medication adherence monitoring delivered via videophone to HIV-positive persons.

Michael Skrajner, Director of Research and Innovation

Edwina Condry, Program Director & Lead Instructor

Edwina Condry is the Program Director at Hearthstone at New Horizons in Marlborough, Massachusetts. She is also a Lead Instructor for the Institute. Edwina has extensive experience facilitating the I’m Still Here® approach with her residents, as well as with training staff on the approach. As a part of New Horizons’ Management Team, she is also skilled at supervising, motivating, and mentoring staff. She has also been involved in the groundbreaking clinical trials of Scripted-IMPROV™ and Hearthside Book Club™.

Our Faculty

Embedding Specialists

In addition, Institute training teams include senior Hearthstone staff members who are experienced caregivers in Hearthstone and other memory care residences. Our trainers receive additional training in how to train prior to joining our training teams. They add a realistic and empathetic level of practical knowledge to every training program we undertake.

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