Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation endows new program officer for caregiving position

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation announced a partnership with the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund along with a $2 million grant to each organization to endow a new staff position focused on developing and funding programs and initiatives that support caregivers for older adults. The need for resources supporting both family and professional caregivers continues to grow as the regions’ population of older adults increases substantially over the next decade.

“Being a caregiver can be both rewarding and challenging, and a role that many in our communities will find themselves in at some point in their life,” said Amber Slichta, vice president of programs, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “There have been unprecedented technological and societal advances since the time today’s seniors were children and we have an incredible opportunity to collaborate with our partners to develop and uncover innovative programs and new systems that can support our caregivers and improve the quality of life for all in our communities.”

This unique philanthropic partnership between the three grantmakers establishes endowment funds within the Health Foundation and the Health Fund to support a new program officer position within each organization dedicated to implementing strategies that support caregivers, while also advising RCWJRF on the same. It will also provide an opportunity for cross-learning and collaboration between the two regions.

“As a spend-down foundation with an expiration date in 2035, these endowed positions are an opportunity for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to inform our work today and also create a legacy of support for caregivers beyond our life,” said Slichta.

In western New York, Ken Genewick will join the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York in this newly created role of program officer for caregiving. Prior to joining the foundation, Genewick was the director of the Niagara County Office for the Aging for seven years. In this role, he led the organization’s efforts to promote independence and quality of life by providing community-based services to older adults and caregivers.

A resident of Lockport, NY, Genewick is an active member of the Western New York community. He currently serves as president of the board of the Western New York Integrated Care Collaborative and previously served as member of the board of directors of the Association on Aging in New York from 2014-2015. Genewick earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in health systems administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

“Knowing how critically important caregivers are in maintaining older adults’ quality of life, we need to devote resources and attention to developing initiatives that support them. We are pleased to partner with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to identify and provide essential programs that focus on the needs of caregivers in our communities,” said Nora OBrien-Suric, president, Health Foundation for Western & Central New York. “We are excited to have Ken on our team. His diverse public and private-sector experience will add a unique perspective on aging and caregiving, creating impact with both people and systems.”

In Michigan, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund recently hired Tim Niyonsenga as its new program officer for caregiving. He joins the team with nearly 15 years of experience working with older adults in the role of direct care worker, case worker, senior housing advocate, community educator, and administrator.

He spent six years at Michigan’s Region 2 Area Agency on Aging, where his accomplishments included implementing their Home and Community Based Services waiver program (now known as MI Choice Waiver Program), which helps Medicaid-eligible older adults stay in their homes or other residential settings. Niyonsenga earned his Master of Social Work from Michigan State University, specializing in gerontology with a focus on organizational and community leadership.

“The Health Fund’s partnership with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and Health Foundation for Western & Central New York represents a growing understanding that caregivers are instrumental to older adults’ health and wellness,” said Kari Sederburg, senior program officer, Michigan Health Endowment Fund. “We’re thrilled to welcome Tim and incorporate this focus area into our Healthy Aging work, and to support organizations that are leading this charge not only for Michigan but for the entire country.”