2016 Healthy Aging STAR Award Winners

Join us in congratulating the first annual Healthy Aging STAR Award winners!  This inspiring group of remarkable people have made an incredible difference in their communities.  WIHA salutes them - and the many others all over the state - who continually demonstrate their commitment to healthy aging in Wisconsin.


Above & Beyond Award

Edie Felts-Podoll


Above & Beyond Award

You don’t meet people like Edie Felts-Podoll every day. Always a smile, making everyone feel welcome.  No task too big or small.


As a volunteer at the Waushara County Department of Aging and the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Adams, Green Lake, Marquette, and Waushara Counties, Edie is a trained leader for Power Tools for Caregivers, Living Well with Chronic Conditions, Healthy Living with Diabetes, and Stepping On.  But she does far more than lead - Edie goes above and beyond to help recruit participants making sure they connect with the workshop material - and each other. Did I mention that she is also a registered volunteer driver, transporting folks to and from critical medical appointments as well as workshop sessions?  Edie shows genuine concern for participants in her workshops - especially for those who are caregivers and may be in need of additional support or resources. She even spends time outside of the workshop making referrals to the Department of Aging or ADRC to assure they get the help they need. Of course, she always follows up to make sure the person received the help requested.  Additionally, she goes the extra mile to ensure that workshops are filled - she truly is an extension of the department staff.

In Cahoots Award

Ann Bennett

In Cahoots Award

Developing partnerships isn’t always easy, but Ann Bennett knows their value and has become something of an expert.  She is the director of Neighbor-to-Neighbor - a non-profit organization in Door County that supports family caregivers, and those they care for by providing peer companions, respite care, use of medical equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, and in-home safety items, and most recently, a cancer support group called the Lemonade Club.   Ann has built relationships that have helped her double the number of medical equipment locations in Door County with the newest location on Washington Island for residents who otherwise would need to travel by ferry and car over 50 miles one way to get these resources. Ann went one step further and partnered with the Washington Island Community Health Program to provide home visits for island residents as well.

Ann's latest venture has been to raise local awareness of dementia and has worked to make Door County a dementia-friendly community.  She partnered with a Memory Care Coordinator from Ministry Health Care and the Senior & Community Resource Center to launch Memory Cafe's.  She also has created a panel of 10 organizations to provide a Learning in Retirement session through the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

















Bright Idea Award

Alejandra Estrada

Elida Rebolledo


Bright Idea Award

What do you do when you encounter a barrier to program participation?  Ask Elida Rebolledo and Alejandra Estrada. Both Community Health Workers at Core- El Centro in Milwaukee these ladies have strong connections to the local Hispanic community and a genuine concern for the health of the people there.  Elida and Alejandra are program leaders for the Vivir Saludable con Diabetes program – the Spanish language version of Healthy Living with Diabetes.  The pair has led 3 workshops this year already, populated mostly with diverse groups of participants including soon-to-be mothers with gestational diabetes and family members attending together who want to prevent or manage their diabetes. 


Their bright idea came when they recognized that a common issue preventing participants from attending was a lack of childcare.  The co-leaders established an on-going relationship with the Milwaukee HeadStart program to provide workshops onsite for parents and community members while their kids are in school, encouraging them to learn self-management skills and make healthier choices for the whole family.


From recruiting participants, to leading workshops and breaking down barriers to participation, Elida and Alejandra's genuine care and concern for their community led to this bright idea that is making a difference in their community.

Chris Hagen & Darby Simpson

Making It Happen Award

Chris Hagen and Darby Simpson exemplify the phrase “Making It Happen.”  While time constraints, limited resources, distance issues, and community nuances are constant challenges, Chris and Darby see them as simply a few hurdles to overcome. Together, this dynamic duo has established many programs that are now cemented in at the ADRC of Barron, Rusk & Washburn Counties including Memory Cafes, Powerful Tools for Caregiving, Healthy Living with Diabetes, and Stepping On – including pioneering adaptations to that program for people with low vision.  In 2015, they were given six months to launch at least one Memory Cafe in each of the three counties of the ADRC region.  With very limited funds, these overachievers created four!


Despite the challenges, Chris - who is the Outreach Specialist - and Darby - who was recently named the Aging Director & ADRC Supervisor for Washburn County - use teamwork, an ability to leverage community support, and tenacity to accomplish what others may believe to be impossible.  Their can-do attitude is infectious and generates both enthusiasm and enormous good will.  Simply put, Chris and Darby view the glass as "half full." Their professionalism and positivity are inspirational.

Making In Happen Award

Kathryn Lyons

Making It Happen Award

Our second award winner in this category is especially impressive given the fact that she finds ways to Make It Happen as a volunteer.  Kathryn Lyons of McFarland, doesn’t give up easily.  She saw a need for the StrongWomen class in her community and made it her mission to make it a reality despite the fact that there were few resources to purchase equipment and little space for the class. As a former Physical Therapist, Kathy saw many advantages to the class in helping seniors improve their strength and balance. Working together with the local senior services agency director, she was able to secure space for the class at the local Municipal Center and took it upon herself to apply for a grant to help obtain equipment needed to get the class started.


Now firmly embedded in the community, Kathy's classes fill up regularly necessitating an additional instructor and opening the door to other exercise classes such as chair yoga.  Her classes also alert participants to the other services offered at Senior Outreach. Because Kathy keeps “making it happen,” older people in McFarland have many choices to help improve their strength, which allows them to remain active and lead healthy lives.

















Innovations in Research Partnerships Award

Jeff Kirchner

Innovations in Research Partnerships Award

We all know that without research, there are no new interventions in healthy aging.  Jeff Kirchner has been instrumental in the movement through a Community-Academic Aging Research Network intervention for medication review.  A pharmacist and owner of Streu’s Pharmacy in Green Bay, Jeff has long recognized the need for education and good communication between pharmacists and consumers to prevent adverse drug events and falls.  The intervention he is helping to pilot provides one-on-one medication reviews to identify harmful drug interactions.  But Jeff’s commitment to better health extends beyond the research. He has, for more than 10 years, offered his time and talent to help the ADRC of Brown County address medication questions and concerns among older adults including increasing awareness of the benefits and hazards of prescription and over-the-counter medications including drug interactions, medication compliance, how medications impact the body and their side effects.  He is also a regular guest expert at Stepping On presentations.


His boundless energy and commitment to research that improves the lives of people in his community makes hime deserving of the 2016 Innovations in Research Partnerships Healthy Aging Star Award.

Commitment to
Care Partnerships

Margie Hackbarth

Commitment to Health Care Partnerships

Having an ally can make all the difference in whether relationships develop and flourish. Over the years, Margie Hackbarth has become a staunch supporter of evidence-based programs coordinated through the ADRC of Central Wisconsin. As Healthy Aging Services Line Administrator at Aspirus, Margie educates providers and staff on the benefits of programs like Stepping On, Living Well and Healthy Living with Diabetes - both for patients at Aspirus and for the general community.


From planning logistical details, to marketing, to scheduling speakers and purchasing class supplies, Margie has taken on all facets of program management to ensure its success – she’s even a trained leader for Living Well. For the past two years, she has championed the importance of developing an internal referral system to fill evidence-based programs and is moving that process forward internally. 


Through her efforts, she continues to help the ADRC of Central Wisconsin to provide more programming and reach more community members. She cleared the way for ADRC staff to educate Aspirus professionals on all ADRC services in addition to evidence-based health promotion programs and helped the ADRC connect with and educate Wausau Fire Department and EMS staff.  Her efforts have increased the scope and reach of ADRC services to ensure that more older adults and adults with disabilities are connected with resources and program to help them maintain their health and independence.