Alzheimer’s Association hires Golisano IDD health initiative lead

Kathleen Pelkey

As part of a new initiative funded by a $500,000 grant from the Golisano Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association Rochester Finger Lakes Region Chapter has hired Kathleen Pelkey as program director for the intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) initiative. Pelkey will be based in the association’s Meridian Centre Boulevard offices, but she will oversee operations in Rochester Finger Lakes; Western New York; and Southwest Florida.

“Kathy brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role as a valued provider within the IDD system as well as someone who has witnessed, firsthand, the impact that Alzheimer’s and other dementias have on those who are at the greatest risk,” said Teresa Galbier, Alzheimer’s Association Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter executive director. “I look forward to working closely with Kathy and the team in building health equity for individuals with IDD who are impacted by dementia.”

Pelkey comes to the Alzheimer’s Association with 36 years of experience in the IDD field, most recently as the senior director of programs & services and housing development at the Arc of Monroe County. She joined the Arc of Monroe in 2001, following a 14-year career at the Epilepsy Foundation, where she served as residential services program manager.

“I am so excited to join the Alzheimer’s Association and to support the agency in continuing to build and strengthen services and supports for individuals with IDD and dementia,” Pelkey said. “I have over 30 years of experience successfully building and championing services for people with IDD. I look forward to working with this team to improve the treatment, care and advocacy for individuals with IDD and dementia.”

In February, the Golisano Foundation awarded the Alzheimer’s Association with a $500,000 grant for phase two of the IDD health initiative. For adults with Down syndrome, the lifetime risk of Alzheimer’s disease is 90%, and it is the leading cause of death. By age 60, at least 50% of people with Down syndrome already have clinical evidence of dementia.

The grant will be distributed over two years, with $300,000 in 2022 and $200,000 in 2023, and will enable the Alzheimer’s Association to hire additional staff to oversee the program in each of the three regions — Rochester, Buffalo, and Southwest Florida. The program will use a comprehensive approach that targets a wide range of individuals and organizations influencing the diagnosis, care, and support of individuals with IDD living with dementia.

The program is expected to have the following outcomes: 21 community educators trained, 225 caregivers who receive training from community educators, 300 professional caregivers trained and 675 people with IDD and dementia receive support