Amanda Drobnica Headshot

Amanda Drobnica, MPH Senior Director of Programs, Rochester and Finger Lakes Chapter

Amanda is a dedicated strategic Public Health professional with proven performance in management, leadership and communication with over 15 years of experience developing partnerships, securing millions in funding, accelerating organizational growth and increasing program impact. With an advanced degree from Tulane University, she has served as a Public Health Leader for various nonprofits and service programs and in many capacities as Director, Senior Director, Advocate, Research Leader and Fundraiser. In her current role as the Senior Director at Alzheimer’s Association (a leading global voluntary public health organization), at the Rochester and Finger Lakes Chapter, she is responsible for the direct care and support of families living with dementia, providing visionary leadership and strategic direction for a regional team of 20 team members. Throughout her time with the Association, she has directly influenced programmatic impact and strategic initiatives, increasing the reach of direct support and awareness programs with volunteer engagement by 42%. She has maintained and secured additional funding in the millions to support families living with dementia, including a 2 year Pilot Program to support individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Dementia (IDD/D). Amanda has coordinated the work of more than 500 community partners, including local agency, nonprofit, academic, government and philanthropic sectors and U=under her direction, the chapter has served over 25,000 points of services.

In addition to her strength as a leader, Amanda is skilled in curriculum evaluation and design and has developed training modules and disseminated training to professional and direct care support teams in the field. She also serves a role as an active advocate for health equity. She is a representative for the National Program Volunteer Advisory Council, the Greater Rochester Area Partnership for Elderly, the Women’s Council, the Aging Alliance, the Long Term Care Council and the SAGE II Commission (comprised of regional leaders, residents and subject matters experts from skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, insurers, community based organizations, housing, transportation, workforce and government). One of the many funded programs she oversees is the chapters Assistive Support Dementia Supports Program (ASDSP), a service program supported by the New York State Offices for People with Developmental Disabilities (NYS OPWDD).

The chapter has been an important resource to the IDD/D community. This was strengthened when the Association received a federal Administration on Aging (AoA) grant to develop innovative programs for those with IDD/D and their loved ones. The chapter’s programs have been invaluable for those with IDD/D. In 2005 the Association was approved as a certified OPWDD HCBS provider. In 2006 the chapter established the first NYS OPWDD funded IDD/D Program for those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementia.

The chapter’s ASDSP provides programs and services that promote aging in place to those with AD throughout the ten county region, with great sensitivity for the health, quality of life and safety of persons with IDD/D. The program’s hallmark includes an approach that blends support and management strategies to address the participant’s needs in the home and community. The goal of the program is to encourage and enhance meaningful relationships for people with IDD/D with friends, family members and others in their lives by providing them with information, referral, care consultation, social engagement opportunities, creative programs, and educational programs that will enhance the quality of life of the person with Alzheimer’s. Amanda and her team deliver quality education, in person support, guide discussion groups, conduct environmental assessments, development of action plans, participate in Life Plan meetings and monitor the progression of the disease. The program has historically supported 75-90 individuals each month.

As a result of this program, the chapter secured a partnership with the Golisano Foundation. From 2019-21, the Alzheimer’s Association developed and piloted a model for building a dementia-capable IDD workforce by preparing 15 individuals from four IDD agencies to train and support 230 of their colleagues. From pre to post training, the percentage of staff reporting confidence in their ability to handle situations “Always” or “Most of the Time” increased most around the ability to recognize dementia signs (from 35% to 86%), adapt living spaces (from 45% to 93%), respond to fears and behavioral reactions (from 49% to 93%), and communicate effectively with people living with dementia (from 53% to 94%). Amanda was not only instrumental in the success of that pilot, she secured a Phase II pilot program in partnership with the Golisano Foundation. Phase II uses a comprehensive approach that targets a wide range of individuals and organizations influencing the diagnosis, care, and support of individuals with IDD/D. The goal of the Phase II pilot is to create a cadre of dementia-capable family and professional caregivers to deliver evidence-based education and drive broader systems changes that promote early and accurate dementia diagnoses and improve care and support for individuals with IDD/D. This initiative will augment programming developed during the initial pilot and refine and test this programming for a scaled delivery throughout New York and southwestern Florida, with an ultimate goal of nationwide expansion under the direction of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Diversity Equity Inclusion Pillar. The intent of our program design is to increase the knowledge and confidence of community educators and caregivers directly supporting those with IDD/D. The program will evaluate and determine that this model is effective, sustainable, and scalable nationwide. The long term goal is the adoption of these promising practice models and policy recommendations for implementation within IDD agencies and organizations within the broader IDD system to increase early and accurate diagnosis, as well as care and support, for individuals with IDD/D. Amanda and her team have recently launched this program and are well on their way to achieving the goals set out by this pilot.