The Ohio State University College of Social Work is pleased to announce the appointment of Marisa Sheldon (MSW, LISW-S) as director of its Age-Friendly Innovation Center (AFIC).
Prior to her new role, Sheldon served as the AFIC’s assistant director of interdisciplinary engagement and as assistant director of Age-Friendly Communities of Columbus & Franklin County, respectively. Over the last decade, she has also served as community lecturer and field placement coordinator for the college as well as helpline and support coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Ohio Chapter. She received her Master of Social Work degree from Ohio State in 2011, preceded by her Bachelor of Science in Social Work in 2010.
Sheldon has been involved with the Age-Friendly initiative since it joined the College of Social Work in 2018 and helped build the foundational work of the center. She brings a strong focus on leading community change to ensure the voices and ideas of older adults are central to the decision-making process. With this same passion, she is committed to inspiring the next generation of those serving in aging, having worked with hundreds of students during her time at the university.
AFIC is the first university-based center in the nation to embrace the full spectrum of needs, opportunities and complex issues related to age-friendly communities—bringing to bear the resources, partnerships, and brainpower of a top-tier research university with the expertise of older residents to transform our communities and make them more livable for all. Its mission is to innovate with older adults through research, education, and engagement to ensure inclusion and build resiliency to make communities more age friendly–all achieved through collaborating with Ohio State interdisciplinary faculty, students, and community partners.
Building off more than six years of work, the AFIC continues to prioritize the contributions of older residents to improve social, built and health environments that support livability for people of all ages and abilities. The community impacts of this work reverberate beyond older adults, increasing quality of life for individuals of all age groups and abilities within and outside central Ohio, and its results are shared with partners across the United States and around the globe.
“Marisa’s commitment to her work with the AFIC and Age-Friendly Columbus has been significant, and we are pleased to have her advance as director,” says College of Social Work Dean Tom Gregoire. “Our college has a strong commitment to research and teaching in aging and recognizes the considerable asset that older adults represent in our society. The AFIC is among the nation’s most innovative programs in building a community where older adults and all can thrive. We are excited about what the AFIC offers and are confident in continued impact under Marisa’s leadership and vision.”
AFIC is recognized as a national leader in the age-friendly network, having secured over $2 million from public and private funders, AFIC has published nine manuscripts and numerous reports in partnership with students, interdisciplinary faculty and community members. AFIC has reached over 16,000 individuals through community-based participatory research, presentations, surveys, focus groups or walk audits. Through the Scholars Program, course collaborations and internships, AFIC has engaged 120 students representing 17 disciplines.
Last year, Dr. Holly Dabelko-Schoeny, associate professor and AFIC director of research, received Ohio State’s Community Engagement Scholar award and the initiative was also honored with the university’s Outreach and Engagement award in 2020. The CSWE Commission for Diversity and Social Economic Justice honored Age-Friendly with the Community Partnership Action Award in 2019.
Before receiving center designation in 2021, AFIC operated as Age-Friendly Columbus and Franklin County under the college for three years and joined the World Health Organization and AARP International Network of Age-Friendly Communities in 2016. Age-Friendly Columbus previously operated under the guidance of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC).
The AFIC is located at Rev1 Labs, 1275 Kinnear Road. Sheldon succeeds Katie White who led the initiative and succeeding center since 2016.
For more information about AFIC, click here.
Contact: Frankie Jones-Harris, communications director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-330-2206.