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About Us

Karen Stobbe

Karen Stobbe-Carter

Chief Purpose Officer

Karen was working as an actress, director, writer and instructor of theatre when her Dad, Manfred was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Her life has taken on a new focus and new meaning in combining the knowledge of her two worlds into one life work.

Karen was the co-writer (with Sonya Barsness) of all the scripts and content for the Hand in Hand Training Toolkit produced by CMS and distributed to every nursing home on the country. She has worked on curriculum for the national Alzheimer’s Association, as well as for The Eden Alternative.

Karen was the Director of Education for Pioneer Network and the Chair for the Annual Conference for six years.

Karen has presented over 700 workshops, keynotes and performances. She has written a book, has a training DVD, been on NPR’s This American Life and presented at the International TEDMED Conference.

Mondy Carter

Mondy Carter

Chief of Creative Chaos

Mondy is a very lucky guy. Improv performer, actor and writer. He gets to make a living doing those things. That would not be possible without his wife, Karen. Not only impossible but much less gratifying. One of his regular gigs is performing in the two person show he and Karen have called : Sometimes Ya Gotta Laugh. It’s a show about Alzheimer’s, caregiving, and the necessity of keeping your sense of humor. He and Karen have performed all over the U.S. and Canada. Recently they have been presenting many other talks that are educational as well as entertaining.  

Mondy was actually the main caregiver for Virginia (Karen’s Mom) for the 11 years she lived with them. From this experience he has grown into a very patient person. That’s one of benefits of getting to be with a person with dementia. If you are open to it they can allow you to grown in unexpected ways.    

Sonya Barsness

Sonya Barsness

Revisionary Gerontologist

Sonya has been working in aging for almost 20 years. Well, technically, even longer since she started working in aging when she was 11 as a volunteer for a community visitor program. She visited elders then at least once a week for companionship, light chores, etc.
She always knew she would be working with elders. Her undergraduate degree is in Psychology with minors in Gerontology and Biology and her Masters Degree is in Gerontology.

Growing up with her grandparents living in the same house made aging and connecting elders part of what she always felt as normal. Her passion is changing the culture of aging. Aging is living. Yet, often it is seen as negative and somewhat useless. Our society is frightened of it, and so we ignore it. The reality is we all age and we have to find a better way of coping! 

Sonya is a proponent of “positive gerontology”. Just like the field of psychology has evolved to recognize the importance of focusing on individuals’ strengths rather than weaknesses, the field of gerontology also must go in this direction. Certainly, as we age there are challenges we experience that impact how we are living. For some these challenges are quite significant, like for individuals living with dementiaBut there are also opportunities and gifts in aging. When we focus more on the things that are important to us, including our strengths, and obtain supports to fortify our weaknesses, we can live meaningfully for all our years. 
Check out Sonya’s blog: