December 09, 2022

Women’s Committee focuses on Alzheimer’s Disease

Author: Molly Belmont
Source:  NYSUT Communications
women's committee
Caption: NYSUT's Women's Committee members standing strong in purple for Alzheimer’s awareness.

Since its founding, the NYSUT Women’s Committee has prioritized women’s health as a key issue, and this November’s annual meeting turned the spotlight on Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Representation matters. We know this because we have seen it,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango, who chairs the committee. “We know that women must be their own best advocate when it comes to access to health care and the actual care they receive. That’s just one example of why it is so important for women to hold positions of leadership and power in all sectors, so that the challenges that are unique to them are understood by those they go to for guidance and support.”

In New York state, more than 410,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s, and two-thirds of those New Yorkers are women. Women also bear the brunt of care, when it comes to Alzheimer’s patients, and that can take a toll mentally, physically, and financially. During the 2022 meeting, the Northeastern New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association presented the latest research on this devastating disease to the committee. The organization, represented by Elizabeth Smith-Boivin, executive director and Erica Salamida, director of community outreach, also discussed the array of resources that are available to women dealing with Alzheimer’s.

“People were really captivated by the content, because it does really have a significant impact on women,” said Smith-Boivin. She said her organization continues to raise awareness but emphasized that they can’t do it alone. “That’s why it was so good to see this committee successfully mobilizing a community around the cause,” she added.

Barbara Hafner, vice president of NYSUT Retiree Council 18 and chairperson of the Long Island Retiree Delegate Council said the presentation was so informative that she plans to bring it back to her local members in January. “Honestly, I always found the topic of Alzheimer’s to be scary, because it always seemed like a hopeless case, but after listening to these two women, it was scary, but we learned there’s also hope,” Hafner said. She was impressed by the resources the Alzheimer’s Association offers families and is looking forward to supporting this organization going forward.

The NYSUT Women’s Committee is co-chaired by Aisha Cook, New Rochelle FUSE, and Leslie Rose, Hewlett Woodmere FA.

To learn more about the committee, visit