Leadership

  • Joon Bang

    Joon Bang

    Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

    A recognized expert in the field of aging services, Joon began his nonprofit career with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Prior to joining Iona, he served as President and CEO of the Seattle-based National Asian Pacific Center on Aging and Executive Director of the Korean American Coalition (KAC) in Los Angeles. That city’s leaders honored Bang as a 2018 Impact-Maker to Watch, recognizing his skill in “building consensus and coalitions to ensure the rights we all fight for regardless of ethnicity, faith, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.” Under his leadership, KAC was selected as a 2017 California Nonprofit of the Year. Joon serves on the Board of the American Society on Aging and supports the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Communications Equity and Diversity Council (CEDC) as an appointed member to ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion are applied to the programs and policies of the FCC to better serve older adults.

  • Nina Austin

    Nina Austin

    Director of Administration

    Nina joined Iona’s team in 2009, working on our Resource Guide publication and then as an Executive and Communications Assistant. She has been Director of Administration since 2011. In this role, Nina is responsible for human resources, technology, building operations, and security. She also supervises administrative staff, including our friendly front desk receptionists. Nina has more than 15 years of business management, retail, and administration experience, including eight years managing her own interior decorating and custom design business. Nina is also an avid volunteer, and has more than 30 years of service and advocacy in the community with PTA and children’s reading programs. Nina holds a BA in psychology from Denison University. Outside of Iona, Nina enjoys reading, sewing, gardening, and vacationing at the beach with her family.

  • Ashlea Dowden

    Ashlea Dowden

    Director, Community Programs and Initiatives

    Ashlea is an experienced non-profit professional with a heart for the community. She came to Iona in 2014 as the Farm-to-Table Coordinator and has had several roles since. Ashlea serves as Iona’s Project Director for grants from the DC Department of Aging and Community Living. Ashlea is the staff Liaison to our Citizen’s Advisory Group, a Steering-Committee member for the DC Senior Advisory Coalition, and co-chair of Age-Friendly DC’s Nutrition Subgroup. Ashlea grew up in the small, assisted living facility that her parents owned in South Florida. She is currently enrolled in the Key Executive MPA program at American University. Her daughter, Rainy, is her inspiration, her motivation, and her joy!

  • Sarah Grogan

    Sarah Grogan

    Director, Wellness & Arts Center

    Sarah has been with Iona since 2012. She began her career as an intern and worked her way up from Program Coordinator, Program Manager, and Senior Manager to Director of the Wellness & Arts Center. With 10 years of experience in the health care field, Sarah expertly leads Wellness & Art’s compassionate team. Sarah holds a BA in Psychology from Coker University. When not at Iona, she enjoys quilling, board games, and spoiling her niblings.

  • Deborah Rubenstein, PhD, LICSW

    Deborah Rubenstein, PhD, LICSW

    Senior Director of Programs

    Deb has been on staff at Iona for more than 25 years. She has worked as a care manager, psychotherapist, and support group facilitator, and became the Director of Iona’s Consultation, Care Management, and Counseling Services in 2005. In 2021, she became Senior Director of Programs. In this role, Deb oversees a staff of social workers and nurses who provide direct support to older adults and their families, works with Iona’s Nutrition team, and leads Iona’s data and performance management initiatives. Deb also co-created and developed our online Aging Solo workshop series. A former attorney, Deb holds both an MSW and PhD from the National Catholic School of Social Service at The Catholic University of America.

  • Suzy Russell

    Suzy Russell

    Director, Iona's Washington Home Center

    Suzy Russell holds a Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Science in Management from the University of Maryland. She has 25 years of experience serving a variety of populations, including homeless youth, children, older adults, and developmentally disabled adults. For several years, Suzy served as Executive Director for a day program for seniors and developmentally disabled adults. Prior to joining Iona, she worked for eight years as Program Director at an intermediate care facility serving geriatric and medically fragile adults. Suzy is also the proud mother of 15 year-old twin boys. She looks forward to supporting Iona’s Washington Home Center staff, participants, and their families, as well as Iona’s larger community, and to providing high-quality services offered in a fun and life-enhancing manner.

  • Jennie Smith-Peers, MA

    Jennie Smith-Peers, MA

    Director of Development & Communications

    Jennie combines her management experience and leadership as a fundraising professional with a passion for the arts and aging. Prior to joining Iona’s staff in 2018, Jennie was the Executive Director of the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), leading the nation in supporting capacity building and arts advocacy for older adults. Prior to her tenure at NCCA, Jennie served as Executive Director of Elders Share the Arts in New York. Her love of working with older adults began during her time as an AmeriCorps member, which focused on supporting the health and well-being of older adults in Tennessee. Subsequently, this led Jennie to lead parallel careers as a professional actress and an administrator in aging. Jennie holds a BFA from Emerson College; is a graduate of Antonio Fava’s Stage Internazionale di Commedia dell’Arte in Reggio-Emilia, Italy; and earned a Masters in Drama Therapy from NYU, with a focus on geriatric mental health. Outside of Iona, Jennie enjoys perfecting growing tomatoes, back-country backpacking, participating in book clubs, going to Woolly Mammoth theater, and playing a mean bass-line on her tuba.