Who We Are
Dementia Support Northwest has served northwestern Washington since 1983. What started around a kitchen table has grown into an organization of volunteers, family and friends of persons affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses. Previously known as Alzheimer Society of Washington, our mission is to educate people about dementia-related diseases and support caregiving partnerships.
Each year we provide hundreds of hours of support to caregivers in Whatcom and Skagit County through our free programs:
Adult Day Programs for scheduled caregiver respite
Support Groups for adults caring for those affected by dementia
Staying Connected Memory Support Groups for adults newly diagnosed or experiencing minimal memory loss
Adult Children Support Groups for those adults caring for a parent affected by dementia
Art Access Classes with Allied Arts of Whatcom County
Project Lifesaver (a partnering with the Whatcom County Sheriff) providing electronic technology to locate those who wander
All seek to provide a support to those living with dementia as well as to those providing their care.
Dementia Support Northwest provides professional education and training to those likely to engage with those living with dementia through our partnership with our local Area Agency on Aging, the Northwest Regional Council in Bellingham. Trainings for community groups and professionals alike promote our vision for a more understanding, accepting, and supportive community for those affected by cognitive decline.
Board of Directors
Barry Meyers, Board Chair
Glenda McLachlan, Vice Chair
Erika Crichton, Treasurer
Mary Ellen O'Keefe, Secretary
Executive Director: Daniel Gray, MPA
Education Coordinator: Leslie Jackson, RN
Program Assistant: Betsy Freeman
Project Lifesaver Coordinator: Tom Oliver
Day Program Coordinator: Heather McCracken
Day Program Assistant: Shawn Monninger
OFC Marketing and Outreach: Katie Zeitler
Why We Do It
Our mission is to support people with dementia and their caregivers, families and friends, through education and working with community partners to expand resources.
A community where Alzheimer’s and other dementias are understood and accepted. We desire to bring awareness to our society with an understanding of the overwhelming devastation caused by the dementias; and to bring about improvements in the social and health systems serving those affected by dementia-related diseases.
We are a compassionate, responsive, and accepting organization committed to honesty, integrity, and professionalism in all we do.
Learn More About Our Staff Executive Director: Daniel Gray, MPA Dan joined Dementia Support Northwest (DSNW) taking on the role of executive director in the spring of 2021. With graduate education and professional background specializing in nonprofit management, and a strong preference for work that results in improvements in the lives of others, DSNW would already be a good fit. However, prior to obtaining his Master of Public Administration degree, Dan worked for just over ten years in a family-run assisted living community specializing in Alzheimer and dementia care. DSNW offered a rare opportunity to blend two very distinct skillsets, both in providing direct care and support to those living with dementia as well as in the executive management of DSNW as a regional service provider. While free time is a bit harder to come by these days, when it manages to sneak onto his calendar you can find Dan exploring the outdoors with his partner Baleigh, mushroom hunting, tending to a few too many potted plants on his back porch, and finding an excuse to go drink a cup of coffee by the nearest body of water. Education Coordinator: Leslie Jackson, RN Leslie “Lolly” Jackson is an RSN, BSN and retired Nationally Certified Gerontological Nurse who has worked as an Education Coordinator with Alzheimer’s Society of Washington/Dementia Support Northwest since 2009. She has, and continues to be, a resource for family members with Alzheimer disease, Alcohol Related Dementia, Lewy body Dementia, and Vascular Dementia. At DSNW, Leslie facilitates educational support groups, community outreach and dementia training, memory screening, hosts classes for persons living with dementia (“Staying Connected”), provides consults with persons and families, provides monthly educational classes for staff and volunteers, and supports the Annual Dementia Conference as a committee member. Her fundamental beliefs are to promote wholeness while serving the individual, to work collaboratively with fellow team members in promoting the community, to provide a healthy life environment for the person living with Dementia and their care partners while maximizing self-determination, and to be an advocate for people with Dementia and their families. Her life’s work led to the gift of being a care partner for her dad for ten years. He was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia and later Alzheimer Disease. When her dad passed, she left Virginia, where she worked most of her life, to move to Bellingham to be near her son and family. Her former employer, Oak Springs, a skilled and long-term care facility, decided to name a Hall in honor of her work. Leslie grew up in a a small hamlet in the St. Lawrence Islands and spent time by the St. Lawrence River. It is her pleasure to visit her siblings and cousins there in the summers. They enjoy swimming, boating, and have large family reunions. This year, Leslie is organizing a 50th class reunion for the nursing school she attended. Leslie loves being with her grandchildren! When she’s not working, they are usually with her and their cat, Chester. She and the kids enjoy visiting Leslie’s husband at the Assisted Living community where he currently resides. Walking in nature and having small tea parties are other activities Leslie enjoys. Project Lifesaver Coordinator: Tom Oliver Tom Oliver is the Project Lifesaver coordinator for Dementia Support Northwest and has served in this capacity since 2012. He was part of the original group to be certified as Electronic Search Specialists when the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office adopted Project Lifesaver in 2007. Currently Tom volunteers with the WCSO as the Project Lifesaver Search Team leader. He trains civilians and the Sheriff’s Deputies in the use of the PLS equipment and search techniques. OFC Marketing and Outreach: Katie Zeitler Katie has worked for Old Friends Club since the summer of 2020. She has a background in direct patient care, sales and healthcare management, art and design work, and public health. Over the years, she has volunteered and worked with different non-profits in a variety of capacities, from dog care at an animal shelter, to supporting those in early recovery from substance addiction, to advocacy work for people living with Alzheimer’s disease. Through these experiences, she found that non-profit work is her calling. Katie had the best grandparents a granddaughter could ever ask for. Her grandpa took her on adventures all over the United States. Together, they went camping, explored Ghost Towns, and visited theme parks. He proudly served his country in WWII and then supported his community as a leader through his church. Her grandmother was an incredibly gifted musician. She played the violin and piano and helped shape the lives of many musicians through her classes with them. Both grandparents lived with Alzheimer’s disease for many years and are missed dearly. It is because of them, as well as the patients Katie has had over the years that lived with some form of dementia, that Katie is here today with Old Friends Club. In her free time, Katie likes to rock climb, hike, look for mushrooms and rocks, paint, read, and hang out with her “zoo” of animals. She is a big fan of anything that will make her laugh and believes that you should do one thing you love every day. Katie became a Dementia Friends Champion in May 2023. OFC Affiliate Support: Katie Spears, MPH Katie S. is originally from Maryville, TN, which is a small town in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. She moved to Seattle in 2016 and attended the University of Washington Seattle, where she received her MPH (Master of Public Health) during the COVID-19 pandemic. For her master’s thesis, she wrote "Best Kept Secret": Perspectives From Adult Day Care Staff, which allowed her to interview three local adult day respite facilities (including OFC) to better understand how staff members were utilized by caregivers, how COVID-19 impacted these facilities, and what the staff members’ knowledge of WA State requirements for adult day respite was at the time. She became passionate about changing the accessibility of resources for individuals post-dementia diagnosis and policies surrounding neurological disorders after both her grandmother and mother were diagnosed with dementia. Her paternal grandmother battled Alzheimer’s Disease for 16 years, and her mother battled Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) for 5 years after being diagnosed at the age of 50. The time helping her family find resources motivated her to make dementia care, including respite, more accessible to all. Katie recently relocated to Atlanta, GA to complete a fellowship with the CDC through ORISE in the Healthy Aging Branch within the Division of Population Health. She is working with the Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Team to help promote and disseminate evidence-based research into public health practice. In her free time, Katie enjoys exploring Atlanta and surrounding areas, going to the gym, kayaking, plant shopping, and hanging with her fur babies, Nagini and Trixie. Katie became a Dementia Friend in May 2023.