Our Mission /

Arts for the Aging engages older adults and caregivers in health improvement and life enhancement through regular participation in the multi-disciplinary arts.

Our Vision /

Pioneering arts programming for older adults, Arts for the Aging is a model for excellence in life-long learning and creative aging.

Our Mission /

Arts for the Aging engages older adults and care partners in health improvement and life enhancement through regular participation in the multi-disciplinary arts.

Our Vision /

Pioneering arts programming for older adults, Arts for the Aging is a model for excellence in life-long learning and creative aging.

About Arts for the Aging

Arts for the Aging’s vision, in the Greater Washington D.C. region and beyond, is to model and promote how very important dignity and compassion are in the care of older adults, and that arts intervention strategies provide accessible and uplifting ways to cope with changing abilities as we age.

Arts for the Aging is a nationally-recognized social service organization that delivers innovative, multi-disciplinary arts experiences in community and residential care settings and with museums and cultural institutions in Greater Washington D.C. We engage older adults and caregivers in health improvement and life enhancement through regular participation in arts programs and trainings that are specially designed to minimize the effects of a range of physical and cognitive challenges. An experienced and dedicated faculty of professional teaching artists is trained in our nationally recognized best-practices.

Discover Our Teaching ArtistsOur Visual Identity

Immersion in visual, musical, performing, literary, and intergenerational arts programs ignites self expression, sparks memory and imagination, lifts spirits and creates social bonds–all so vital to older adults, especially those who are becoming more isolated and lonely because they are developing health impairments.

You can read and see more about us in What We Saw Today, a viewbook of artwork, images and writing from AFTA programs.

2018 By the Numbers

Our Values

Improvisation with its core tenet of, “Yes, and … ” is central to our interactions with one another. It validates our shared humanity and embraces creativity by allowing us to build upon ideas that may be different from our own. 

Partnership is at the heart of our program delivery model. It is paramount to decision-making because it makes our mission more accessible to communities in need.

Respect uplifts the dignity of all human beings when we “(PAUSE) Pay attention, acknowledge our response, understand our perspective, seek different perspectives, and examine options to make decisions” (Dreamyard.com)

The wonder of each person’s unique story continues to amaze me and reaffirm my own artistic journey.” – Nancy Havlik

Our Beliefs

Arts for the Aging believes that regular participation in the arts by older adults and caregivers helps to minimize the effects of aging-related physical and cognitive impairments, and contributes to physical, intellectual, and emotional health; that individuals have an inherent need to engage in self-expression and that older adults and caregivers should have access to quality arts programs; that professional artists trained in best practices can enhance caregiving and healthy aging, and that these programs foster communication and connection, and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Our Strategy 2020 - 2022

Over the next three years, Arts for the Aging will continue to focus on what it now does best: Delivering participatory arts programs, which are artist-led, multidisciplinary, and designed to enhance the health and quality of life of older adults, and professional and family caregivers. Arts for the Aging will provide these high-quality programs in group settings to people impacted by the effects of mild to moderate physical and cognitive impairment and whose access to these kinds of life enrichment interventions is limited for reasons of affordability, availability, or the ability to use such programs. As a regional service provider and a recognized national model, Arts for the Aging will strengthen and expand partnerships in thought leadership, business, program, and resource development to grow its offerings and expand its reach in the creative aging field. Arts for the Aging programs will engage community partners and professional and family caregivers while the organization builds board, staff, and volunteer capacity to close its founder-succession period and achieve financial sustainability by the end of 2022. Read more in our Strategic Plan overview, available here.

Where We Work

Our History

In 1986, researchers at the National Institutes of Health approached Lolo Sarnoff, a sculptor and a founding Trustee of a small D.C. gallery called the Art Barn, to provide art workshops for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Lolo agreed and soon observed that art in every form was beneficial to the moods of most. Reports by nurses showed less agitation and aggressive behavior, as well as lingering positive effects in patients even after they left the Art Barn.

In 1988, Lolo — then 72 — founded Arts for the Aging to continue that promising work. Now AFTA is recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a pioneering arts program for older adults, and a model for excellence in life-long learning and creative aging.

True to the founder’s innovative vision, AFTA gives older adults — especially those who are frail and vulnerable — a sense of healing, self-worth and independence.

On November 9, 2014, at age 98, Lolo Sarnoff passed away. She had a lilting and practical way of talking about becoming an “angel” some day. Now she has her wings! All of us here at Arts for the Aging — our board, staff, teaching artists, volunteers and many others — we miss her so. Each year AFTA bestows the Lolo Sarnoff Founder’s Award on an individual to commemorate the founder’s pioneering vision and that of others who carry her spirit.

Read more about Lolo Sarnoff’s remarkable life.

Our Team

Janine Tursini
Director & CEO

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Sarah House
Program Director

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Kristen Engebretsen
Development Consultant, Capacity Partners

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Peggi McGovern
Administrative Manager

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Shreya Bhatia
Research Intern

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Mira Dwyer
Communications Intern

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Benefactors

Pioneer, $1 million +

Lolo Sarnoff (Founder) *

Visionary, $400,000 – $999,999

Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County
The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
Maryland State Arts Council

Catalyst, $200,000 — $299,999

Martha Healy *

Innovator, $100,000 – $199,999

Don and Nancy Bliss
Clark-Winchcole Foundation
Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.
Philip L. Graham Fund
Law Offices of Bruce E. Matter, P.C.
Nancy Peery Marriott Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
The Edward N. and Della L. Thome Memorial Foundation
United Way of the National Capital Area

Creator, $50,000 – $99,999

William T. Coleman, Jr. and Lovida Coleman*
Julia and Michael Connors/The Connors Family Foundation
Susie and Clayton Eisinger
John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation
Heinz Family Foundation
Billie and Wallace* Holladay
Alidz and Zaven Khachaturian
J. Willard & Alice S. Marriott Foundation
The Meredith Foundation
Montgomery County Department of Recreation
Jeanne Ruesch and Otto* Ruesch
The Shaman Charitable Foundation
Julia Sevilla Somoza
Weissberg Foundation

Devotee, $25,000 – $49,999

Mildred Winslow Ashcraft Trust
Adobe Systems
BB&T / Truist
Stephen and Jeanette Bruce
Harman Family Foundation
Tania and Jim Hosmer
Investcorp International
Kuni Matsuda
Dorn McGrath
Mead Family Foundation
Metropolitan Life Foundation
Henry E. Niles Foundation, Inc.
Carol and Earl Ravenal*/The Ravenal Foundation
Renah Blair Rietzke Family and Community Foundation
Deborah Ratner Salzberg and Michael Salzberg
Susan and Dick Schumacher
The Sulica Fund, Inc.
Mary Weinmann
The Ada and Albert Wibel Foundation 

Groundbreaker, $15,000 – $24,999

American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati at Anderson House, BB&T, Pat Bush*, Chris Carr, Castle Gate Media LLC, Dorothy Jordan Chadwick Fund, William E. Cross Foundation, Richard and Ulla Dreyfus-Best, Cherrie Wanner Doggett, Nancy Dunton, The Samuel R. Dweck Foundation Inc., Embassy of Sweden, Forest City Washington, Dorree Lynn and Furthermore, Inc., Geppetto Catering, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, Joyce S. Hagel Silverman, Jay and Ann Kaplan, Kensington Park Senior Living, Melissa Keshishian and Harold* Keshishian, The Marriott Daughters Foundation, Shahin Mafi, The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Napoleon Monroe, Rockville Rotary Club Foundation, Inc., Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Inc., Rotary Club of Washington, DC, Dorothy Sarnoff Raymond Foundation, Deborah Toll, Adrienne Vas, Joy Marzilli Willing, Don Wright and Lezley McIlveen, The World Bank Community Connections Fund

Facilitator, $10,000 – $14,999

Susan Carmel, Elno Family Foundation, May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust

Collaborator, $5,000 – $9,999

Robert N. Alfandre Foundation, Joan Gervino, Nancy and Dick Havlik, Dean and Cathy* Philpott, Susan Schaefer, Milan Selassie, Ralph and Bonnie Tursini, Janine Tursini


*In Memoriam

Board of Trustees

Donald E. Wright, Chairman
Gabriela I. Coman, Secretary
Michelle Baker, Co-Chair, Development-Communications 
Elinor Ginzler, Treasurer
Nancy Havlik, Vice-Chair, Nominations
Melanie Jarratt Wolfe, Co-Chair, Development-Communications 
Deborah Riley, Co-Chair, Development-Communications 

Lolo Sarnoff, Founder & Chair Emerita (1916-2014) [Emerita]

Read the Bios Here

Donald T. Bliss, Esq., Emeritus
Svetlana Dimovski, Ph.D.
Joyce S. Hagel-Silverman, Ph.D.
Shahin Mafi
Joan Ronnenberg
Scott Span, MSOD, CSM
Elizabeth A. Staples, Esq.
T. Ryan Wilson, Esq.

Bruce Matter, Esq., General Counsel [Ex Officio]
Janine Tursini, Chief Executive Officer [Ex Officio]

National Advisory Council

Jerome Barry, Performance Artist, Master Teacher, Founder of Embassy Series

Nathan Billig, MD, Gerontologist and Psychiatrist

Elaine Kotell Binder, Certified Association Executive, Nonprofit consultant, Trustee of Roundhouse Theatre

Robert B. Blancato , President of Matz, Blancato & Associates,  National Coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition, and Trustee of National Center for  Creative Aging

Thomye M. Cave, Executive Director, Downtown Clusters Geriatric Day Care Center

Raquel Chapin Stephenson, PhD, ATR-BC, LCAT, Assistant Professor, Expressive Therapies Division, Lesley University

Yanira Cruz, PhD, President & CEO, National Hispanic Council on Aging

William R. Dunlap, Artist, Arts Commentator, and Educator

Jehan El-Bayoumi, MD, FACP, Associate Professor of Medicine, Internal Medicine Residency Director, Gerontologist, The George Washington University, Medical Faculty Associates

Steve Gurney, Founder of Pro-Aging Network, and Founder/Publisher of Guide to Retirement Living Sourcebook

Anthony J. Hyatt, Founder, Moving Beauty, Master Teaching Artist

Peter Jablow, President and CEO of the Levine School of Music

Stuart Kandell, PhD, Founder of Stagebridge and Artful Aging Associates

Ermyn King, MA, RDT, Drama therapist, arts educator, teaching artist, arts in health administrator and practitioner

Dorothy Kosinski, PhD, Director, The Phillips Collection

Beverly K. Lunsford, PhD, RN, CNS-BC, Assistant Professor, The George Washington University School of Nursing; Director, Center for Aging, Health and Humanities; Director, Washington Area Geriatric Education Center Consortium

William F. McSweeny, Trustee of the Fine Arts Committee of the State Department

Susan Perlstein, MSW, Founder of Elders Share the Arts and The National Center for Creative Aging

Judy Rollins, PhD, President, Rollins & Associates

Judith Salerno, MD, President & CEO, Susan G. Komen

Robert and Tricia Sarnoff, Sarnoff Family Advisors

Susan J. Schumacher, Executive Vice President, Eagle Bank, AFTA Trustee Emerita

Rhoda Maria Septilici, Diplomatic Liaison