Franklin Farmer, President
Franklin has been with the UNC Health Care System since 2001 and is the Assistant Director for the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Center for Aging and Health. He received a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Masters in Business Administration from Elon University. He began his career in the UNC hospital labs and held positions in the Quality Department before managing five of the health care system's hospital based clinics, one of which was the Geriatric Specialty Clinic.
As Assistant Director, Franklin has a diverse range of responsibilities that ensure both the Division and Center meet and expand their clinical, education and research goals. In addition to his Assistant Directorship, Franklin teaches a required course in the Health Policy and Management program at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Brigitte Specht, Vice-President
Brigitte Specht is an Area Account Manager for Sunrise Senior Living, responsible for business development and general public education in the Triangle market. She joined Sunrise Senior Living in 2007. Her background in senior living started in a Continuing Care Retirement Community where she held positions as Sales and Marketing Director, Assisted Living Coordinator, Memory Care Coordinator, and Housekeeping Director before joining Sunrise. Brigitte's passion lies in educating others. She has been a Virtual Dementia facilitator since 2009 and also teaches brain fitness classes. Brigitte is an alumni of East Carolina University and a Licensed North Carolina Assisted Living Administrator. She is very active in supporting Guiding Lights Caregiver Support Center, Alzheimers North Carolina, and COPE Eldercare. Brigitte and her family live in Holly Springs and enjoy spending their free time at Lake Gaston.
Jackie Bedard, Secretary
Jackie Bedard's estate planning and elder law attorney and founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning, a practice focused on guiding clients through the complicated, often confusing, maze of balancing family protection, wealth preservation, and cherished family values in the planning process. Jackie is a member of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and the Medicaid Planning Network. Jackie earned her Bachelor's of Science degree in Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated law school magna cum laude at the University of Richmond School of Law. Jackie resides in Cary with her husband, Dan, and their two dogs, Kylie and Nelly.
Paul Immanuel, Treasurer
Paul Immanuel is a long time resident of North Carolina who retired from IBM in 2009. During his 25 year career at IBM, he held several positions in development of networking products and workflow management systems. Prior to working for IBM, he worked for ITT in Raleigh where he developed fiber optic transmission systems for telephone companies. Paul has experience in hardware and software technologies and has presented papers extensively in North America and Europe dealing with issues related to hardware and software development. Paul is an electrical engineering graduate of North Carolina State University and has completed graduate level computer science and electrical engineering courses under an IBM program. Paul immigrated to the United States (and North Carolina) in 1964. He is married to Phyllis, a Raleigh native and they have two grown twins, Camille and Heather. Both their daughters are in the medical profession. Paul's love for helping seniors comes from his experience with helping Phyllis with taking care of her parents towards the end of their lives. Paul is active in church and community activities in Durham.
Alison Brown works for Rex Healthcare on marketing initiatives for oncology and surgical services. Alison is a Pennsylvania native and a graduate of West Virginia University. She has lived and worked in Raleigh for the past six years in both nonprofit and health related organizations. She has a background in development, marketing and public relations along with nonprofit experience. She has worked in different aspects of healthcare. She has also worked closely with Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Centers, Home Services, inpatient rehabilitation and other services within the hospital in the same capacity. She is very passionate about the mission of Guiding Lights NC. Her experience watching her mother take care of her mother for four years and then take care of her mother-in-law again less than two years later after she, too, was diagnosed with cancer. She wishes that she could have had the physical and emotional support from and organization like Guiding Lights.
Cyndi grew up in the Cleveland area and attended Kent State University. As a fulltime mom, Cyndi was actively involved in volunteer programs through her church, school, Meals on Wheels, Scouts, Motheread, and Project Enlightenment. She is currently on the Family Association Board at Cardinal Gibbons. Cyndi's passion for connecting people with the resources they need led her to the senior industry where she was Business Development Director for a major senior living company for seven years and became very involved with Alzheimer's North Carolina. Her interaction with families dealing with Alzheimer's increased her interest in other types of brain disorders. She left her position in Business Development in 2014 to pursue her desire to volunteer and learn more about families dealing with depression, mental illness and addictions. Cyndi is a certified support group facilitator. She and her husband have lived in Raleigh since 1982 and have 3 children and 2 grandsons.
Amy Gorely serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach for Carolina Meadows continuing care retirement community in Chapel Hill. Prior to this, she worked at the Carolina Center for Public Service at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Amy has also been part of a local consulting company which served nonprofit and government organizations.
Amy has a Masters of Public Administration specializing in nonprofit management and a Graduate Certificate in Aging all from UNC Chapel Hill. She served on the board of Carolina Meadows for five years. Amy is a 2015 Leading Age Leadership Academy Fellow.
Amy is a native North Carolinian and loves walking around her lovely town of Hillsborough with husband John Bemis and daughter Rose.
Cooper Linton serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Transitions LifeCare, which was originally founded as Hospice of Wake County. In addition to his marketing work, he oversaw the design and construction of Wake County's first freestanding hospice home and end of life care campus. Cooper has worked in the healthcare industry for over 15 years with a focus on home and community based care. His experience includes successful administrator roles for two home health and hospice companies as well as several years of sales planning, sales force management and business strategy design. Additionally, Cooper has worked in quality improvement directly for healthcare providers and on contract with Medicare through the Medical Review of North Carolina. Mr. Linton holds a Masters in Healthcare Administration and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he also completed his Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. When not working, Cooper is happily busy as a father and an avid outdoorsman.
Sarah is a Sales Director with The Cardinal at North Hills, a full service continuing care retirement community located in Raleigh's vibrant Midtown, North Hills' neighborhood. She has been with Kisco Senior Living since 2005 where she has held positions as both Sales Director at various properties including Sales Training/Quality Specialist for their Home Office from 2006 - 2008. She has been working with seniors since 2004 and currently holds her North Carolina Assisted Living Administrators License and is a member of the Senior Resource Alliance of The Triangle and HART, Health Affairs Round Table. Sarah holds a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies from California State University, Chico with an emphasis in Psychology and Child Development. Sarah enjoys running as a hobby and living a healthy active life. She lives in Raleigh with her husband Kevin and son, Grayson.
John Thoma is a graduate of Boston University where he received a B. A. degree in Spanish. He continued studies at Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Non-Profit Institute and Tufts University School of Continuing Education concentrating in Community Economic Development and Non-Profit Management. John joined Hospice of Wake County in 1991 and has served in the capacity of Finance/MIS Manager and Chief Financial Officer. He was appointed Chief Executive Officer in August 2002.
Born in Austin, Texas and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, John has been a resident of Raleigh since 1990. In addition to his role as Chief Executive Officer, John serves on the Board of Trustees for the Hospice of Wake County Foundation and is very active in promoting quality end-of-life care at the state and national levels. John served on the Board of the United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) and the NC Association for Home and Hospice Care (AHHC). Nationally, John serves as Secretary of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) Board of Directors and chairs the NHPCO Governance Committee. He has previously chaired the NHPCO Quality and Standards Committee and served on the Membership Committee.