The Partnerships in Aging Program team is a diverse coalition of UNC faculty, students, community organizations, and advisors who are all committed to a collaborative approach in understanding and addressing the needs of current and future elder communities. We invite you to contact us to join the conversation.
Ryan Lavalley, Assistant Professor, Director
Dr. Ryan Lavalley is a community occupational therapist and assistant professor in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. He is the primary lead for the Department of Health Sciences Community Practice Lab. Since 2017, Ryan has partnered with PiAP to support initiatives and projects around aging in collaboration with community organizations. His main work with PiAP prior to becoming Director has been collaborating with the Marian Cheek Jackson Center to support intergenerational engagement and aging-in-community initiatives in the Northside, Pine Knolls, and Tin Top communities. His expertise is focused on community engagement and program development through lenses of positive aging frameworks, social justice, and community coalition building.
Ryan will be directing PiAP as it embarks on a year of transformation in response to changes in UNC’s funding and organizational structures. During this transitional year, Ryan will guide PiAP as its work evolves and potentially becomes situated differently at the university. He intends to ensure partners and long-standing collaborations are sustained and supported through strategic planning and innovative partnerships.
Cherie Rosemond, Past Director (from Jan. 2016-Feb. 2023)
Cherie Rosemond was director of PiAP from January 2016 through February 2023. Cherie brought almost three decades of experience working on social, physical, and political aspects of aging in the United States. Cherie viewed later life as a time for continued growth, contribution, and vitality. As such, she was a champion of interdisciplinary, intergenerational, community engagement as a way to ensure our homes and neighborhoods are great places for people of all ages to live. She also focused attention on the arts and humanities as a way to expand and re-imagine new possibilities for later life. In 2009, Cherie completed her PhD in health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Cherie also holds a master’s degree in physical therapy from Duke and a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Wake Forest. She worked as a geriatric physical therapist in many practice settings, including large health systems, senior centers, nursing homes, and retirement communities. Beginning in 2012, Cherie served as a consultant to the Orange County Department on Aging. In this capacity, she worked with teams of aging services providers, UNC students, and community members to develop and implement Orange County’s Master Aging Plan. Her focus areas included senior housing, caregiving, and program evaluation. In her free time, Cherie loves to dance, bike, and make beauty out of second-hand “stuff.”
PiAP interns work closely with our community partners to move the needle in senior-inclusive affordable housing, intergenerational programming, community planning and more.
Leiha Edmonds, Intern, Orange County Department on Aging
Leiha is a Ph.D. student in the Geography Department at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on geographies of urban aging with attention to care economies, age-friendly policies, and elders’ experiences in urban redevelopment processes. In addition to her work with the Orange County Department on Aging, she is part of the UNC research team, Caregiving Kids: Understanding the Identities and Everyday Spaces of Youth who are Family Caregivers in the US, funded by the National Science Foundation. Before coming to UNC, Leiha was a research associate at Urban Institute, where she led multi-method and community-engaged research focused on social and economic inequality in US cities. Leiha has also worked as a community development planner for the City of Evanston, Illinois, and as a low-wage worker organizer in Chicago and East St. Louis, Illinois. She holds a master’s degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Stephanie Kaczynski, Intern, Communication
Stephanie (she/her) is a PhD student in the Department of Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she focuses on systems of power, organizing, and community-engaged partnerships. She supports communication for the Partnerships in Aging Program to help tell compelling stories about senior-inclusive affordable housing, intergenerational programming, community planning, and more. Stephanie is from the Midwest and holds a MA in Communication and Media from DePaul University. She has previously worked in professional communications in a variety of sectors, ranging from health care and social service nonprofits to higher education to the private sector. Stephanie enjoys reading, cooking, spending time outdoors, and playing with her dog, Brioche.
Dania Khan, Intern, HOPE NC
Dania is a second-year MPA student at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her focus is on local and state government, and she is particularly interested in how government collaborates with nonprofits and organizations to drive change. Dania is working as an intern for HOPE NC through the PiAP partnership to organize community events, develop resources, and find potential partners for the organization. With an undergraduate degree from Purdue University in Robotics Engineering Technology, Dania hopes to bridge the worlds of STEM and public administration by conducting data analysis for state and local governments in the future.
Kendra Oliver-Derry, Aging Fellow, Marian Cheek Jackson Center
Kendra is a 3rd year PhD student in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in the Department of Health Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research centers acts of grief in the context of demonstrations and protests following instances of police brutality. Kendra joins the PiAP team to support multigenerational engagement programs in the Northside community in partnership with the Marian Cheek Jackson Center. She holds a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Towson University and a bachelor of exercise science degree from Norfolk State University. Prior to moving to NC, she worked with the Howard County Department of Aging and other community-serving nonprofit organizations.
Kristina Smith, Intern, Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition
Kristina (she/her) is a dual degree MSW/JD student at UNC-Chapel Hill. Kristina previously spent three years working at the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), often supporting individuals experiencing housing instability. Through PiAP, Kristina is interning with the Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition (OCAHC), where she has the chance to remain connected to affordable housing advocacy as well as expand her understanding of affordable housing development. Professionally, Kristina hopes to continue working alongside people experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness, as she believes affordable, equitable housing is crucial to every person’s ability to survive and thrive.