2020 Annual Optimal Aging Conference 

Explore Lou


Meet Our Keynote Speakers




Eric Friedlander
Chief Resilience Officer

Eric Friedlander was the Chief of Resilience and Community Services for the Louisville Metro Government.  Friedlander led the city’s efforts to help prepare for, withstand, and bounce back from chronic stresses and acute shocks. He also led the agency responsible for anti-poverty programs for Metro Louisville like Neighborhood Place, Meals on Wheels and other collaborative programs with partners.   During his tenure with the Cabinet, Friedlander's roles ranged from leading the Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs to Family Resource and Youth Services Centers to the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, the Office of the Inspector General and several others.




Shannon Gadd
Commissioner of the Department of Aging and Independent Living


Shannon’s strong bond with her grandparents combined with her interest in criminal justice drew Shannon to pursue work in the emerging field of preventing elder abuse. She has consulted with the Department of Justice and the Administration on Aging on how to create and sustain a collaborative community response to supporting older victims of crime.  Ms. Gadd recently joined state government as the Commissioner of the Department of Aging and Independent Living in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. In this position, Ms. Gadd exercises oversight of all statewide Older Americans Act services, Kentucky’s public guardianship program, and the administration of Medicaid waiver services for individuals with physical disabilities. Shannon Gadd is the former Senior Director of Programs at ElderServe in Louisville, KY.   




LaDonna Koebel 
Executive Director of the Office of Senior Protection and Mediation


LaDonna Koebel serves as Executive Director of the Office of Senior Protection and Mediation for the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office. She assists local officials as well as law enforcement agencies in bringing awareness of scams and consumer protection issues.  She conducts workshops and seminars to senior groups, state organizations, business groups, and civic organizations on consumer protection issues.  She also works with mediating consumer complaints, identifying complaint trends in the marketplace and educating consumers on their consumer rights and responsibilities. Ms. Koebel holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky, a master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky, and a bachelor’s degree from Kentucky Wesleyan College.




 Sandy Markwood
CEO of National Association of Area Agencies


Sandy Markwood is a national advocate for aging issues and a champion for ensuring that people have the best supports to age well at home and in their communities. As the CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) since 2002, she has been committed to ensuring that as a society we value and support people across the lifespan. Sandy and her organization have launched campaigns focused on combating social isolation of older adults, preventing elder abuse, promoting nutrition and healthy aging and engagement no matter your age, exploring new transportation and housing options as we age, among others.  Her goal and the goal of n4a is to ensure that we all have the ability to age with good health, independence, and the quality of life we all deserve.  



Opening General Session

Title of Eric Ding Presentation
Keynote Speaker: Eric Ding

ERIC DING BIOitioner, trainer, and consultant with more than 15 years of experience in the arena of inclusion, diversity, and social and racial justice work.  Carol specializes in helping organizations explore the ways in which they can strengthen their commitment to inclusion and create an organization that demonstrates an action centered commitment to inclusion, diversity and equity.  Carol also speaks to the way interpersonal violence intersects with marginalized and minoritized communities, specifically the Black/African-American community and the LGBTQ+ community.  She has  worked with the Kentucky child welfare system, institutions of higher education across the state and the nation, and with a host of community, governmental and advocacy organizations.  Carol received her BS in Justice Administration from the University of Louisville and her MSW from the from the University of Kentucky. Carol is led by a James Baldwin quote, “If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”

 Second General Session

Ending the Alzheimer's Pandemic
Keynote Speaker: Dale E. Bredesen, M.D.

Dr. Bredesen received his undergraduate degree from Caltech and his medical degree from Duke.  He served as Resident and Chief Resident in Neurology at UCSF, then was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Prof. Stanley Prusiner.  He was a faculty member at UCLA from 1989-1994, then was recruited by the Burnham Institute to direct the Program on Aging.  In 1998 he became the Founding President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, and Adjunct Professor at UCSF; then in 2013 he returned to UCLA as the Director of the Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research. The Bredesen Laboratory studies basic mechanisms underlying the neurodegenerative process, and the translation of this knowledge into effective therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, leading to the publication of over 220 research papers. He established the ADDN (Alzheimer’s Drug Development Network) with Dr. Varghese John in 2008, leading to the identification of new classes of therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease.  He and his group developed a new approach to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, and this approach led to the discovery of subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease, followed by the first description of reversal of symptoms in patients with MCI and Alzheimer’s disease, with the ReCODE (reversal of cognitive decline) protocol, published in 2014, 2016, and 2018.  His book, The End of Alzheimer’s, is a New York Times Bestseller.  

Third General Session

Words of Wisdom for #Agetech Entrepreneurs
Keynote Speaker: Nigel Smith

Nigel Smith is the Director of AARP Innovation Labs.   AARP's inaugural innovation lab is the Hatchery - a 10,000+ square foot structure in the heart of Washington DC, where transformational innovation is fostered, incubated, and accelerated.  In this role, he manages Hatchery Ventures, a first-of-its-kind platform for AARP where he works with select early-stage start-ups to shape their disruptive solutions for an ageless consumer, then helps them scale for impact and value creation.  Nigel fosters relationships with academic institutions, incubators, accelerators, and start-up communities in targeted geographies throughout the USA to develop a robust pipeline of transformational start-ups for consideration in Hatchery Ventures. Leading-up to this role, Nigel developed innovation platforms, processes, and models that supported systemic innovation throughout AARP, provided strategy development counsel to business leaders, and consulted with a variety of internal clients on the execution of innovation. Nigel is also the President of Zurena LLC, a beverage company that produces, markets and distributes different drinks and drink mixers. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Trinidad and Tobago Insurance Company Limited and Tatil Life Assurance Limited. Prior professional experiences include roles with Visa USA, McKinsey & Company, Goldman Sachs Group and KPMG. Nigel is a member of CALIBR Global Leadership Network, a graduate of Leadership Maryland and holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from Stanford University, a Certification in Leading Innovation Change from UC Berkeley, and a Bachelors in Business Administration degree from Howard University.

Closing General Session

Alzheimer's Update
Keynote Speaker: Gregory A. Jicha, M.D., Ph.D.

 Dr. Jicha is a Professor in the Department of Neurology and Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky (UK). Dr. Jicha serves on the Executive Committee and is the Director of the Clinical Core of the UK, NIA-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Center. He also directs the Telemedicine Cognitive Clinic at UK, designed to reach out to rural populations across KY for both clinical and research-related activities in the area of AD and related disorders. Dr. Jicha holds the Robert T & Nyles Y McCowan Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Research at UK. His current research interests lie in the areas of mild cognitive impairment, clinic-pathological correlations in early preclinical disease states, and clinical trials of disease-modifying therapies for AD. He is the principle investigator at UK for the National Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study Group and also serves on the Clinical Task Force and Steering Committee for the National Institute of Aging Alzheimer’s Disease Center Program.


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