More than 100 well-wishers honored Dr. Monika White, retiring CEO of WISE & Healthy Aging at a recent retirement party held at the Ken Edwards Center in Santa Monica.
Former Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom was among the dignitaries at the party who presented a commendation of appreciation from the City of Santa Monica. Signed by current Mayor Ken Genser, it was one of many from a variety of institutions and government agencies that included the California State Senate and Assembly, the City of Los Angeles Department of Aging, a proclamation of recognition from the County Board of Supervisors, and a letter of congratulations from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Grace Cheng Braun, current President and CEO of WISE & Healthy Aging said, “I was moved by the outpouring of appreciation of people. Monika’s warm smile and exceptional leadership has inspired us all. What’s more,” she added, “Monika’s expertise and knowledge have contributed to Wise & Healthy Aging for many years and she will be sorely missed.”
“I was deeply touched by the diversity of comments from the community and colleagues,” Dr. White said. When asked about her work at WISE & Healthy Aging, Dr. White talked about the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program that has been protecting the rights and dignity of residents in skilled nursing and residential care facilities throughout Los Angeles County since 1980. With a flash of her brilliant smile, she noted, “Our program is the largest in the United States, larger than any state program and larger than all the ombudsman combined programs in Los Angeles County.”
Long time colleague and former Board of Directors WISE & Healthy Aging member Don Cohen said, She is one of the nicest people I know. She is always there on behalf of someone in need. I called her when someone needed help for an older person and didn’t know what to do. “If she didn’t know the answer, she would drop everything, research it and give you alternatives.”
Dr. White is known around the country as an inspirational leader who believes that in giving knowledge you increase knowledge for everyone. The USC Davis School of Gerontology, where Dr. White is an Adjunct Associate Professor, describes her as “a leader in the development of the care management field, who has created innovative programs, has led and participated in research projects, and has authored numerous articles. She has been a role model for many professionals. She has nurtured colleagues and students in a selfless and supportive manner”