Keren Brown Wilson PhD ’83 and her husband Michael DeShane MA ’72, PhD ’77 have devoted their lives to a fact of life that impacts us all: aging.
Their basic goal is to help people with limited means age with dignity, and they’ve built their careers around that concept. Keren founded the Jesse F. Richardson Foundation, which advocates for quality housing and long-term care in the United States and Central America. Michael leads Concepts in Community Living, a consulting and management firm focused on assisted living.
Together the couple donated $1 million to fund the Aging Matters initiative in PSU’s Institute on Aging. [http://www.pdx.edu/ioa/] The initiative will change the ways communities plan for and address quality-of-life issues for older adults. The U.S. component of the program emphasizes affordable housing and services while building supportive neighborhood environments. In other countries, such as Nicaragua, the initiative explores culturally relevant models of care for the elderly. Aging Matters is currently aligning with the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly Cities program as it works globally to shape inclusive and accessible urban environments that promote active aging.
Keren and Michael’s donation was spurred by seeing other efforts to help the elderly fail due to a lack of understanding of this population’s needs. “We hope Aging Matters can result in a better understanding of the issues and difficulties in providing effective services to low-income, urban elderly in the United States and developing countries,” Michael says.