Sally S. White, MS
With more than 30 years of experience, Sally White is a leader in the field of aging and champion of the rights of older adults and their caregivers. A graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland, where she earned a M.S. in Family and Community Development with a Certificate in Gerontology, Sally joined Iona as an intake specialist in 1986. Since that time, she has worn many hats including deputy director of programs and services, director of Iona’s adult day health center, director of quality management and — since 2009 — executive director. Under her leadership, Iona has added new programs to meet the growing needs of older adults (such as the Take Charge/Age Well Academy for retirees) and continues to expand its care management services and its adult day health center. With a strong commitment to advocacy and improving the quality of life for all older residents of the District and beyond, Sally is instrumental in the leadership of the city-wide DC Senior Advisory Coalition, which she co-chairs, and the DC Coalition on Long Term Care. She also serves on the Program Committee of Generations United and is a member of the 2014 class of Leadership Greater Washington.
Susan A. Messina, MSS, MLSP, MS
Susan started at Iona in 2013 as Director of Development and Communications and in 2018 she became the organization’s Deputy Director. Susan has more than 25 years of management and fundraising for a wide variety of health and human service organizations. Prior to joining Iona, she was with the National Hospice Foundation, which is the fundraising arm of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Susan holds two master’s degrees from the Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work & Social Research (in social work, and law and social policy) and an additional master’s in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When not at Iona, Susan enjoys curating discussions on Facebook, reading, volunteering at her UU congregation, and spending time with her wife and their daughter.
Deborah Rubenstein, PhD, LICSW
Director of Client Services
Deb has been on staff at Iona for more than 20 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 2018, she became the Director of Client Services. 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 develops and presents curriculum for Iona’s Take Charge/Age Well Academy, including the 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.
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.
Director of The Washington Home Center
Thomye Cave served as Executive Director of the Downtown Cluster’s Geriatric Day Care Center, Inc. for over 30 years. She joined Iona’s team in 2020. She is a cum laude graduate of Florida Memorial University with a B.S. in Urban Services where she was selected as a Hall of Fame Alumna. She pursued further studies at the former Biscayne College now St. Thomas University both in Miami, Florida. Thomye is a founding member of Lifting Young Lions Foundation of Excellence, Inc. where she serves as Vice President and Scholarship Administrator. The Foundation has supported students of varied academic levels since its inception in 2002. She is also a certified dementia care specialist, support group leader, level one Reiki practitioner, and an aging sensitivity emergency response trainer. Her passion for helping and love of our aging community is well demonstrated from ensuring housing stability for the elderly while Director of Dade County Emergency Housing Program to Supportive Services Coordinator at the Urban League Aging Services Program and as Executive Director of Downtown Cluster’s Geriatric Day Care Center in Washington, DC. She firmly believes that one’s quality of life should not be compromised because of their age or ability.
Director of the Wellness & Arts Center
With more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare field and a primary focus on senior care, Sharon expertly leads Iona’s compassionate Wellness & Arts Center team. Prior to joining Iona’s staff in 2010, Sharon served as an associate executive director in the assisted living arena. Under her leadership, the Wellness & Arts Center has earned a Dementia Program of Distinction Award from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. A passionate volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association, Sharon annually leads a team in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser. She also facilitates support groups for older adults and their family members. Sharon holds a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. When not at Iona, Sharon may be found in her garden, at the beach, or in Annapolis spoiling her grandchildren.
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.
Jafar Hussaini, EMBA
Director of Finance and Accounting
Jafar joined Iona in July 2020, bringing 10 years of experience in accounting and finance to the organization. Prior to working at Iona, he lived in New York City and served as Controller for Commonpoint Queens (formerly known as the Samuel Field Y and Central Queens Y), one of the largest nonprofit organizations in that borough. Jafar holds a degree in Political Science from the City University of New York and an Executive MBA from The George Washington University School of Business. He is also a Microsoft Certified Database Developer and Database Administrator. Besides being a numbers person, Jafar enjoys reading Eastern and Greek philosophy. His hobbies include playing soccer on the weekends (go FC Barcelona!), volleyball, and hiking and camping with friends.