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Penny Dickerson awarded GSA Fellowship 2017

For Immediate Release
November 11, 2016
Contact: Todd Kluss
(202) 587-2839
America’s Top Reporters on Aging Chosen for Fellowship ProgramThe Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and New America Media (NAM) have selected 16 distinguished reporters for the next cohort of the Journalists in Aging Fellows Program, now in its seventh year. They represent a wide range of general audience, ethnic, and senior media outlets, including several public radio affiliates, daily newspapers, and national publications.

The fellows will convene during GSA’s Annual Scientific Meeting — scheduled for November 16 to 20 in New Orleans, Louisiana — and utilize the more than 450 presentation sessions and 4,000 expert attendees to develop a major aging-focused story or series. These proposed projects, to be published in 2017, will span such concerns as elder isolation, homeless seniors, the digital future, and aging in ethnic populations.

“The GSA meeting presents a comprehensive look at aging, and our new fellows will serve a vital role by cultivating public awareness of what it means to age in America,” said Karen Tracy, GSA’s Senior Director of Strategic Alliances and Communications. “We provide a unique venue to help them understand everything from the latest discoveries in the health sciences to the impact of the 2016 elections on older adults.”

The fellows program is supported by funding from The Silver Century Foundation, AARP, The Commonwealth Fund, The Retirement Research Foundation, and The John A. Hartford Foundation.

“Our fellowship collaboration with GSA has been essential for educating reporters and the increasingly diverse communities they inform about the challenges of growing older.” said NAM Executive Director Sandy Close. “The wide range of topics this year and the depth of the proposals shows that journalists are grasping the impact of these issues in every community.”

In New Orleans, the fellows also will report on new developments in aging and participate in a day-long workshop, where experts will discuss the latest research and provide insight on key issues facing Americans as they age. Continuing fellowship grants also are being provided to allow nine previous fellows to participate in the meeting. A continuously updated list of stories generated by the program’s more than 100 alumni is available at www.geron.org/journalistfellows.

The program is co-directed by Todd Kluss, MA, GSA’s senior manager of communications, and Paul Kleyman, senior editor of NAM’s ethnic elders newsbeat. Kleyman also is the founder and national coordinator of the Journalists Network on Generations, which includes more than 1,000 writers on aging.

The new fellows:

Francisco Castro (La Opinión)
Project: Varied series on the daily struggles of food and rent for older Latinos, elder abuse among Latinos in home care facilities, and “old love.”

Lois M. Collins (Deseret News, Salt Lake City)
Project: Redefining “community” in old age.

Alice Daniel (KQED Public Radio’s “California Report,” San Francisco)
Project: Mental illness in older Hmong and Lao refugees.

Merdis “Penny” Dickerson (Florida Courier/Daytona Times)
Project: Hunger among older African Americans.

Neil Gonzales (Philippine News)
Project: Barriers to and opportunities for healthy aging, particularly within the Filipino and Asian American community.

Leoneda Inge (North Carolina Public Radio – WUNC)
Project: The “reverse migration” of black retirees to North Carolina.

Erica Manfred (SeniorPlanet.org)
Project: Accessible hearing-loss technology.

Deborah Martinez (KSFR-FM, Santa Fe, New Mexico)
Project: Varied series on navigating Social Security and Medicare, the challenges and opportunities facing New Mexico’s retirees, and recent lawsuits brought against two Santa Fe elder care facilities.

Sister Charlene Muhammad (Los Angeles Sentinel/L.A. Watts Times Weekender)
Project: Intersection of homelessness, dementia, and substance abuse.

Elizabeth Payne (Ottawa Citizen)
Project: A series of articles related to falls, including prevention, causes, costs, and consequences.

Katy Read (Star Tribune, Minneapolis)
Project: Individual and community initiatives to address the dangers of isolation and loneliness.

Randy Rieland (Smithsonian)
Project: Use of artificial intelligence to combat social isolation.

Michael O. Schroeder (U.S. News & World Report)
Project: Financial exploitation of older adults.

Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs (Alldigitocracy.org)
Project: Ageism in the media and its coverage of older adults from minority communities.

Chandra Thomas Whitfield (NBCBLK/NBCNews.com)
Project: Challenges faced by LGBT older adults of color.

Ke “April” Xu (Sing Tao Daily)
Project: Scams haunting Chinese older adults in the U.S.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, theAssociation for Gerontology in Higher Education.

New America Media (NAM) is the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate for over 3,000 ethnic news organizations. Nearly 60 million ethnic adults connect to each other, to home countries, and to America through ethnic media, the fastest growing sector of American journalism. Founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996, NAM is headquartered in California with editors in New York and Washington, DC.

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