Michelle Sierpina, Ph.D. (2007)
Director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Dr. Michelle Sierpina, Founding Director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UTMB Health in Galveston, Texas, began her work in eldercare in the 1960’s. Her Ph.D. with concentration in Humanistic Gerontology investigated the lived experience of lifestory writing and sharing groups. Her M. S. in Human Services Administration focused on management of non-profit organizations, especially adult daycare. At UTMB she developed The Pentimento Project—Lifestory Writing and Sharing Groups, a part of the Creativity Continuum: storytelling modalities across a continuum of capability including those with dementia.
A certified facilitator trainer for TimeSlips©, creative storytelling for those with dementia, she also serves on the national Scientific Advisory Council, Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, Tucson, Arizona. Co-producer of Bringing Stories to Life and Making Lives Visible facilitator training videos, Sierpina is on the editorial Board, Osher Lifelong Learning Review— The Annual Journal of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes.
Under her direction, OLLI at UTMB has received three consecutive $100,000 annual grants from the Bernard Osher Foundation culminating in a $1 million endowment (with $50,000 bridge funding) in 2008. She has taught at UT Houston Center on Aging, University of Nevada, Reno, St. George’s Medical University in Grenada, and at conferences around the nation, as well as in UTMB’s Institute for the Medical Humanities and School of Nursing Graduate Program. Her lifestory protocols are practiced as far away as Tauranga, New Zealand. Sierpina has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on topics in gerontology, spirituality, and creativity in aging. Continuing her research on lifestory writing and sharing groups, she studies and nurtures creativity and lifelong learning among aging individuals across the entire continuum of functional capability.