by Joyce Lee
Karletta Poland, an experienced educator and program manager who has worked closely with the Philadelphia community, has joined Penn Memory Center as Coordinator of Diversity in Research and Education.
Poland will renew the center’s efforts in outreach and education with a focus on the aging African-American population in West Philadelphia. She will promote the recruitment and retention of older adults in research studies at PMC and connect them to the various resources and psychosocial services offered at the center.
Nationally, African-Americans are among those at highest risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Older African-Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias as older, non-Hispanic white Americans, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. African-Americans who develop Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias often have more trouble connecting to the resources they need and affording the expenses of long-term care.
As Coordinator of Diversity in Research and Education at PMC, Poland is committed to improving and maintaining the cognitive health of older adults in African-American communities of Philadelphia through education and outreach initiatives. She will focus on developing and implementing a plan for recruiting and retaining older adults with and without cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease into PMC’s research studies. She will also build PMC’s education and training programs to increase the diversity of the workforce researching and providing care for patients with the disease.
“We make a commitment to humanity and the betterment of our society when we provide equity and access to underserved and underrepresented communities through outreach and education,” Poland said.
Since arriving at PMC, Poland has helped organize community education events like “Alzheimer’s In Our Community” in collaboration with African-American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha, represented PMC to speak with older community members at health fairs and expos, and worked on the next installment of an art exhibit called “Art of the Mind” that draws attention to the experience of memory loss. Poland plans to continue hosting events that engage and educate the wider Philadelphia community on issues of cognitive impairment and dementia.
Poland has also been working on several programs focused on education and outreach at PMC. These include , a collaboration with the Ralston Center that hosts free weekly dance sessions and intergenerational social activities for older adults in the community, and Bridges to Wealth, a program that empowers and equips caregivers with important financial literacy knowledge and investment skills. Poland also runs the , which offers medical and graduate students from underrepresented minority groups the opportunity to conduct research on aging and dementia at PMC.
Poland, a West Philadelphia native, comes to PMC with more than eight years of experience helping low-income, first-generation high school students of color apply to college. Prior to PMC, she worked as the Associate Director of the University of Pennsylvania Upward Bound program, a college preparatory program helping high school students in the West Philadelphia area reach for further education opportunities. Poland has also worked in the past as a nutrition educator with Drexel University in the Philadelphia School District. Poland holds a Master of Education degree from Wilmington University and a Master of Science in Education degree from Drexel University.