Jennifer Pettis honored by Alzheimer’s Association

March 08, 2021

NICHE’s Jennifer Pettis is the recipient of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Frank Carlino Award in recognition of her outstanding advocacy on behalf of individuals and families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Pettis will be presented the award virtually at this year’s New York State Alzheimer’s Virtual Advocacy Day on March 10.

Pettis is the acting director of programs for Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) at NYU Meyers, the leading nurse-driven program designed to help hospitals and healthcare organizations improve the care of older adults. Pettis has more than 25 years of healthcare experience as a nurse, nurse researcher, educator, and consultant working to improve healthcare for older adults. 

Pettis is also the Alzheimer’s Ambassador for Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and a Chapter Board member and community educator for the Alzheimer’s Association Northeastern New York Chapter. Alzheimer’s Ambassadors are grassroots volunteers for the Alzheimer's Impact Movement—the advocacy arm of the Alzheimer's Association—working to develop and advance policies to overcome Alzheimer's disease through increased investment in research, enhanced care, and improved support. As the main point of contact for Senator Schumer on issues related to dementia and Alzheimer’s, Jennifer has visited several of his regional offices throughout the State (pre-COVID-19) and has worked to mentor other Ambassadors and advocates across New York State. She has taken a unique approach through her own network to engage Senator Schumer and has developed a trusted relationship with his congressional offices to ensure her voice is heard by policymakers.

“There are 6.2 million older adults age 65+ living with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to double to 12.7 million by 2050. In short, Alzheimer’s disease is a public health crisis, and the time to act is now,” said Pettis. “I humbly accept this award, but my work is far from over. I will continue to advocate for those living with this disease and their caregivers, as well as push to ensure that health systems are prepared to provide person-centered, quality care to individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

The award is named for Frank Carlino of Cornwall, Orange County, who became the face of Alzheimer's at a time when people with the disease did not speak out about it. The Frank Carlino  Award celebrates his visionary spirit and is given yearly to recognize an advocate who exemplifies the qualities of dedicated perseverance and creativity that help people with Alzheimer's and their families.

"It gives me great pleasure to present this year’s award to a Northeastern New York advocate,” said Alzheimer’s Association, Northeastern New York Executive Director Beth Smith-Boivin. “I have been fortunate enough to work alongside Jen for a number of years and she holds us all to a high standard. Her compassion and steadfast determination make her a remarkable advocate.”

In New York State alone, there are more than 410,000 people who live with Alzheimer’s disease and 586,000 caregivers who provide 7.74 million hours of unpaid care to their loved ones with dementia valued at nearly 15 million dollars.