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 /

We are a pioneer in arts programming for older adults and 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 /

We are a pioneer in arts programming for older adults and a model for excellence in life-long learning and creative aging.

About Arts for the Aging

AFTA’s vision, in the 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. We engage older adults and care partners in health improvement and life enhancement through regular participation in arts programs that are specially designed to minimize the effects of a range of physical and cognitive challenges. A faculty of experienced and dedicated 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.

Our Values

AFTA believes that regular participation in the arts by older adults helps to minimize age-related physical and cognitive impairments, and contributes to their physical, intellectual and emotional health; that individuals have an inherent need to engage in self-expression and that older adults should have access to quality arts programs; that artists trained in best practices can enhance caregiving and healthy aging for older adults.

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

Our Strategy 2016 - 2019

AFTA 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. AFTA will provide these high-quality programs in group settings to people who have mild to moderate physical and cognitive impairments 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, AFTA will dramatically expand a range of new partnerships in funding, programmatic research and volunteer engagement. AFTA programs will also increasingly engage community partners, family members, caregivers, volunteers and intergenerational connections. 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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Brandi Rose
Program Director

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Audrey Adams
Development Director

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Tim McLoraine
Administrative Manager

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Our Benefactors

We express profound gratitude to these most generous benefactors, whose cumulative giving, since our inception in 1988, demonstrates a shared belief that creative expression combats isolation and brings joy, community, and better health to seniors who need it most:

Pioneer, $1 million +

The late Lolo Sarnoff (Founder)

Visionary, $400,000 – $999,999

Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County

Catalyst, $200,000 — $299,999

The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
The Late Martha Healy, III
Maryland State Arts Council

Innovator, $100,000 – $199,999

Donald and Nancy Bliss/The Bliss Trust
Clark-Winchcole Foundation
Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.
Marriott Foundation
Philip L. Graham Fund
United Way of the National Capital Area

Creator, $50,000 – $99,999

The late William T. Coleman, Jr. and Lovida Coleman
Julia and Michael Connors/The Connors Family Foundation
Susanne and Clayton Eisinger
John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation
Wilhelmina and the late Wallace Holladay
Alidz and Zaven Khachaturian
J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
Bruce Matter
The Meredith Foundation
Montgomery County Department of Recreation
National Endowment for the Arts
Jeanne Ruesch and the late Otto Ruesch
The Shaman Charitable Foundation
Julia Somoza
Weissberg Foundation

Partner, $25,000 – $49,999

Mildred Winslow Ashcraft Trust
Harman Family Foundation
Theresa Heinz/Heinz Family Foundation
Tania and James Hosmer
Investcorp International
Kunihiro 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 Richard Schumacher
The Edward N. and Della L. Thome Memorial Foundation
Mary Weinmann
The Ada and Albert Weibel Foundation

Facilitator, $15,000 – $24,999

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

Board of Trustees

T. Ryan Wilson, Esq., Chairman
Donald E. Wright, Chairman Elect
Kevin T. Bryan, Vice-Chair, Strategic Outreach and Partnerships; Secretary
Nancy Havlik, Vice-Chair, Nominations
Gabriela I. Coman, Secretary
Marla Bush, Assistant Secretary
Elinor Ginzler, Treasurer

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

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

Read the Bios Here

Michelle Baker
Donald T. Bliss, Esq.
Svetlana Dimovski, Ph.D.
Joyce S. Hagel-Silverman, Ph.D.
Allison Henderson
Melanie Jarratt Wolfe
Shahin Mafi
Deborah Riley
Joan Ronnenberg
Elizabeth A. Staples, Esq.

National Advisory Council

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

Marie A. Bernard, MD, Gerontologist

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

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

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

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

Carol Bird Ravenal, PhD, Professor Emerita, College Arts & Sciences at American University

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