Looking for a dose of inspiration? Enjoy this “family portrait” of the seven 2020 Dayton-based Del Mar Encore Fellows and the big issues they’re tackling.

The Del Mar Healthcare Fund has provided more than $2.8M for programs and services engaging and serving older adults in the Dayton area, which includes funding for the Fellows program. Fund advisor Donald Ambrose commented, “Within this generation are some very creative and resourceful people. It’s…critical to….involve them in the community and tap into their resources.”

In addition to their onsite work, Fellows meet regularly to learn and problem-solve. 

Frieda R. Bennett, Ph.D, St. Mary Development Corporation, worked at Sinclair Community College for 30 years, as dean of business and assistant to then-President Ned Sifferlen. After retiring, she taught organizational leadership at Wright State University. Since retiring from Wright State, she served as communications coordinator for the WSU Retirees Association and remains active in regional leadership in her sorority. She is a Fellow at St. Mary Development Corporation, leading a project to determine the technology literacy of older residents, research technology as it relates to telehealth, and develop a plan to improve access to health services through the implementation of technology.


Debra Brathwaite, Ph.D, YWCA Dayton, is a former deputy superintendent of schools in several systems, including Dayton Public Schools, where she was instrumental in the creation of the Charity Adams Earley Academy for Girls. She serves on the boards of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center and the Dayton Society of Natural History and is a Preschool Promise Implementation Team member. She also teaches at the University of Dayton. At the YWCA, she will build on the YWCA’s “One Imperative: the elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary,” by evaluating YWCA programs’ internal practices, policies, procedures around racial justice, and convening a Dayton Region Coalition Against Hate.


Sherrè Collier, a Fellow at The Brunner Literacy Center, has more than 30 years of human resource management experience at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where she retired as the division chief, force development. She has an MS in Human Resources Administration and is a graduate of Leadership Dayton. She works with The Brunner Literacy Center to elevate literacy as a community priority and strengthen existing programs.


Kaye Manson Jeter, Ph.D., a Fellow at the Dayton Metro Library, retired from Central State University as dean of the Dayton campus. She also served as the dean of the College of Education and the director of the Institute of Urban Education. Dr. Jeter holds doctorate degrees in both law and education and served as general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Education. She has been an attorney in private practice and worked as a teacher, counselor and administrator in Michigan public schools. She leads a project with Dayton Metro Library to create a sustainable, volunteer-led Homework Help programs in area branches.


Eric Johnson, a Fellow at the Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging, is an experienced video producer, who has worked with leading publishing companies in the field of teacher education. His clients have included the American Montessori Society, the University of Dayton and the Ohio Department of Education. He has also worked in the private sector. At the Parker Center, he will develop an educational curriculum and video aimed at reframing participants’ and viewers’ perceptions of aging, and challenging the prevalence of ageism in our culture.


Kathy Stevens, Ph.D., a Fellow at the Area Agency on Aging, PSA 2, is a retired engineer, most recently a senior executive for the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, and General Electric Aviation. Using her research, program management and strategic thinking skills, she is working with the Area Agency on Aging and its provider network to understand and address the shortage of workers who provide direct services to older adults in our region. She will research, define and measure the scope of the current challenge to finding and keeping workers, and develop proposed solutions for employers and policymakers.


Noreen Willhelm, a Dayton Foundation Fellow, spent nearly 30 years working with area nonprofits in positions ranging from public affairs director to executive director. Previously, she was a reporter and assistant metro editor with the Dayton Daily News and the former Journal Herald. As the Del Mar Encore Senior Fellow,  she coordinates the work of the Del Mar Encore Fellows, serves as liaison with the Fellows’ host organizations, and provides outreach to the older adult-serving community.

Want to connect? Contact Senior Fellow Noreen Willhelm here

Published: February 24, 2020