2021 Conference Schedule & Speakers


10:00 am to 10:15 am – Opening Remarks

10:15 am to 11:45 am

Gary Chapman

Dr. Gary Chapman & Dr. Edward Shaw
Keeping Love Alive
as Memories Fade

Gary Chapman is the author of
Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade:
The 5 Love Languages and the Alzheimer’s Journey.

Dr. Gary Chapman is an experienced and well-respected family counselor, and a well-known author having written more than forty books. He hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, A Love Language Minute, and a Saturday morning program, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, that air on more than 400 stations.

The 5 Love Languages, one of Chapman’s most popular titles, topped various bestseller charts for years. It has been published in more than 50 languages, sold more than 14 million copies and is currently on the New York Times best-seller list. Dr. Chapman has been directly involved in real-life family counseling for more than 40 years.

Dr. Chapman holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively. He received his Ph.D. degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has taken postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

Dr. Chapman and his wife, Karolyn, have been married for more than 45 years and reside in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Chapmans have two grown children, Shelley and Derek.

Edward G. Shaw, MD, MA, is dually trained as a physician and mental health counselor. He was the primary care partner for his late wife, Rebecca, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2007 at age 53 and died in 2016 after a 9 year journey. Ed was a practicing academic radiation oncologist for 23 years, specializing in the treatment of adults and children with brain cancer. In 2010, inspired by Rebecca’s journey, his medical interest shifted to dementia diagnosis and treatment, and with his additional training in mental health counseling, he founded the Memory Counseling Program in 2011, part of the Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine and the Sticht Center on Healthy Aging and Alzheimer’s Prevention at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Program serves individuals, couples, and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. He is the author of four books. Along with coauthors Deborah Barr and Dr. Gary Chapman, he wrote “Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade: The 5 Love Languages and the Alzheimer’s Journey,” which describes his moving personal story of caring for Rebecca coupled with an innovative use of the five love languages in dementia counseling. He also wrote “The Dementia Care Partner’s Workbook,” a support group manual and self-study guide for dementia care partners, providing understanding, education, and hope for the long journey of dementia caregiving from diagnosis through end-of-life. He has also co-authored two resources for support group leaders, “A Leader’s Manual for Dementia Care Partner Support Groups” and “A Support Group for People Living with Dementia: The Leader’s Manual.” Ed is now retired in order to devote more time to public speaking, educating and encouraging seniors, people living with dementia and their care partners, and medical, mental health, and other healthcare professionals working in the fields of aging and dementia through his company, Empath Education. He resides in Winston-Salem with his wife Claire, who was an Alzheimer’s caregiver for her late husband, Jim. They have four adult children and four grandchildren.

11:45 am to 12:15 pm

Alexis Perkins

Alexis Perkins
Get Moving
with Chair Fitness

Presented by Alexis Perkins,
founder and creative director of Chair One Fitness.

Alexis Perkins is the Founder and Creative Director of Chair One Fitness. She has always had a passion for fitness, television production, dancing, and public speaking.

As a Magna Cum Laude graduate from Norfolk State University she went on to work at CBS affiliate WTKR News Channel 3 and became co-producer and lead instructor for the 30min television program Fuzion Fitness and Body By Alexis.

Alexis made a huge impact in the fitness world teaching Zumba Fitness internationally and coordinating the LOVE Fest; which became the largest dance fitness event in Hampton Roads Virginia attracting people from all over the United States.

All these paths in conjunction with her close relationship with her grandmother and teaching seniors for years led her to the creation of the nationally accredited program Chair One Fitness. Chair One Fitness not only offers fitness instructors longevity in this field but is also a blessing to all who take the class, overcome physical limitations, and stay active.

It is clear that Alexis is a woman who wears many hats. Her love of fitness and desire to help enrich others shines through in every endeavor.

12:15 pm to 12:30 pm – Closing Remarks


10:00 am to 10:15 am – Opening Remarks

10:15 am to 11:45 am

Linda Ercoli

Linda Ercoli
Managing Challenging Behaviors
in People with Dementia

Presented by Linda Ercoli, PhD, health sciences clinical professor, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the Semel Institute, director of geriatric psychology-neuropsychology training program and interim director of the UCLA Longevity Center.

Linda Ercoli is a Health Sciences Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the Semel Institute. She is the Director of Geriatric Psychology-Neuropsychology training program and the Interim Director of the UCLA Longevity Center. She is a clinical psychologist with a specialty in aging, dementia, and neuropsychology. Her interests include caregiver stress, behavior modification, and cognitive enhancement interventions. Dr. Ercoli’s research background is in the neuroimaging and neuropsychology of aging and Alzheimer’s disease; and in the development of educational programs for caregiver stress, and cognitive enhancement programs for people with age-related memory problems and people with cancer related cognitive impairment. She provides consultation on neuropsychological assessment for clinical trials.

11:45 am to 12:15 pm

Tom Sweitzer

Tom Sweitzer
A Mind for Music

Presented by Tom Sweitzer, MTT, MT-BC,
co-founder, creative director and head of music therapy
at A Place to Be.

Tom is Co-Founder, Creative Director and Head of Music Therapy at A Place to Be, a non-profit organization serving over 400 families weekly, offering Music Therapy. Tom holds a B.F.A. in Music Theater, a Graduate Certificate in Music Therapy from Shenandoah University and a master’s in music therapy from Berklee College of Music. Tom has created several therapeutic musical productions that focus on acceptance, diversity and empathy that tours the schools. His Rock Opera, A Will to Survive, performed at the Terrace Theater at The Kennedy Center. He is currently collaborating with Wolf Trap, writing and directing their first inclusive and disability focused production for the children’s theater and education department. He is an adjunct professor at Shenandoah University and consults as a Music Therapist within the Loudoun County area and across the country. He is a member of the American Music Therapy Association.

Tom received the title Loudoun County Humanitarian of the Year in 2014 and in that same year was invited as a guest to the White House for his work with disabilities. A Place to Be and Tom was awarded “Best Music Therapy Provider of the Year” by the American Music Therapy Association in June 2017. That same year he was honored to be a guest at the “Sound Health” conference hosted by The National Institute of Health along with renowned Opera star, Renee Fleming and NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins. His choir, “Different Strokes for Different Folks,” a group comprised of stroke survivors through Inova Hospital sang alongside Renee Fleming. He spoke with Mrs. Fleming on Music and the Mind at Tanglewood. He also directed the Documentary, “Just Like Will,” which has won several awards both nationally and internationally. Tom is a subject of a new documentary, “Music Got Me Here,” along with one of his heroes, Forrest Allen, a young man with Traumatic Brain Injury who found his voice and courage again through Music Therapy. The movie will be on main streaming services this Fall 2020. He has signed a contract with MGM studios for the making of a movie based on the Documentary. Tom works closely with producer, HillTopper productions and most recently toured his one-man show, “Meatballs and Music,” a 90-minute play based on his child-hood. He presents Corporate and Business Workshops with Companies such as Cisco Systems, Capital One, along with many school districts. As a COVID survivor, Tom felt he needed to create something for young children to process the pandemic. He created “The Land of Music,” an animated series educating and bringing hope to young children during this time of uncertainty. The show can be found of the YouTube channel- A PLACE TO BE FAMILY. Tom is dedicated in growing A Place to Be and its mission to help people face, navigate and overcome life’s challenges through Music Therapy.

12:15 pm to 12:30 pm – Closing Remarks


10:00 am to 10:15 am – Opening Remarks

10:15 am to 11:45 am

Dr. Chiadi Onyike

Chiadi U. Onyike, M.B.B.S., M.D.
Understanding Young-Onset Dementias

Presented by Dr. Chiadi Onyike, director of Frontotemporal Dementias Program, director of Young-Onset Dementias Program, co-director of Lewy Body Disease Research Center of Excellence, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Dr. Onyike is specialized in neuropsychiatry and focuses on the care of individuals who have neurodegenerative dementias. His practice focuses on conditions that develop in midlife or earlier, including frontotemporal dementias, young-onset Alzheimer diseases, prion diseases, leukodystrophy and other atypical conditions that cause cognitive and behavioral impairments and dementia. He is principal investigator or co-investigator of studies focused on the epidemiology and treatment of the frontotemporal dementias, Alzheimer disease, Lewy body disease, spinocerebellar ataxias, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Dr. Onyike is a member of the Medical Advisory Council of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, the FTD Disorders Registry Scientific Advisory Board and the FDA Advisory Committee for Central and Peripheral Nervous System Drugs. He serves on the Alzheimer’s Association Best Clinical Practices Guidelines Work Group, and has participated in NIA/NINDS Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias workshop committees. He is a founding member of the International Society for Frontotemporal Dementias.

11:45 am to 12:15 pm

Loretta Veney

Loretta Veney
The Joy of Using LEGO:
Serious Play in Caregiving

Presented by Loretta Veney,
author of Being My Mom’s Mom
and Refreshment for the Caregiver’s Spirit.

Loretta Woodward Veney is a thirty-five year security management professional who spent the first fifteen years of her career managing security personnel before starting her own training company offering topics including security management and operations, leadership, conflict resolution and communication skills.

In 2006 when Loretta’s Mom Doris was diagnosed with dementia, Loretta began learning everything she could about the disease and hoped to share that information so others could be more prepared for this devastating diagnosis than she had been. In 2013, that hope turned into Loretta’s first book, Being My Mom’s Mom, which highlights the first six years of the family’s dementia journey. Loretta had the unwavering support of her husband Tim who did everything possible to be of help to Doris along this journey, and together they were Team Veney!

By the middle of 2013 Loretta began receiving requests for presentations on her caregiver experience, and since that time she has given more than 275 presentations and keynote addresses.

In the summer of 2016, after almost 31 years of marriage, Tim died after a very brief illness while he and Loretta were traveling in NY. To help with her grief, Loretta took photos that she and Tim had taken over their many years of travel, added her motivational words to them and compiled them into her second book called Refreshment for the Caregiver’s Spirit. Loretta dedicated the book to Tim and hopes that it will inspire caregivers through tough days and long nights.

12:15 pm to 12:30 pm – Closing Remarks

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