AgeWise Advocacy & Consulting is a Kansas City area firm owned by social workers.
- We will help you and your family navigate complex choices that come with aging or a difficult medical diagnosis.
- Our approach is holistic, comprehensive and compassionate.
- Our experience in various clinical settings over the years is invaluable as we coordinate an array of diverse professionals, organizations and communities in providing the best care for you or your loved one.
Andrea Leavitt, LMSW, C-ASWCM
Andrea dedicated her career to supporting the aging population in 2003. Her passions
developed from personal life experiences which led to her belief that the elder years of
one’s life are sacred – rich with meaningful moments as well as unimaginable challenges. Navigating multiple and often complicated systems on behalf of a client has been Andrea’s primary interest. Every person and family situation is unique, requiring a personal and creative approach to meeting their needs and interests. Andrea recognizes the privilege of joining them on their journey.
Other aspects of Andrea’s earlier career include human resource management, adult mental health and special needs populations.
She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Kansas State University and earned a Master of Social Work degree from The University of Kansas. Andrea also holds the specialty designation of Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager.
Andrea is a member of Aging Life Care Association. She is a member of the Johnson County Counsel on Aging and board member of Kansas Advocates for Better Care. She also enjoys being an active member of P.E.O., a women’s philanthropic organization.
Together with her family, Andrea takes pleasure in many outdoor activities. Farming, bee keeping, hiking and baseball are among their favorites.
Dana Lambert, LSCSW, LCSW
With more than twenty years’ experience helping families and individuals in conflict or struggling with physical decline, dementia or mental illness, Dana Lambert is an expert in advocating for the rights, needs and wishes of seniors. She is an expert in navigating systems, from complex medical and care provider organizations to intricate family systems. The belief that the wishes of each individual should be respected as they age drives her to assist seniors with creating a plan for the important decisions of where to live, how to balance safety with independence, when and who to ask for help and how to thrive even in difficult circumstances. She believes that having an aging member can and should be a time for families to find ways to work together and is practiced in conflict resolution to help create consensus and peace. Helping seniors and their families find creative ways to solve problems that improve quality of life energizes her.
Dana has a Master of Social Work from the University of Kansas, is a licensed clinical social worker in Kansas and Missouri and is a Kansas Supreme Court approved Mediator. She has worked in mental health settings, including private psychotherapy, for many years. She provides supervision to licensed social workers seeking clinical licensure in Kansas.
Caroline Dawson, LSCSW
Caroline Dawson supports individuals and families in the work of living and aging wisely. As a member of AgeWise Advocacy & Consulting, she demystifies questions regarding aging, healthcare, death and dying. Caroline provides education and tools to individuals, families and facilities to enhance positive, effective communication and client quality of life.
With a focus on social work values, her collaborative approach upholds the worth and dignity of every person, and by valuing the importance of human relationships, she seeks to cultivate the success of shared goals.
Caroline has a passion for teaching. She has provided community education on many topics regarding aging as well as providing professional continuing education programming. Previously, Caroline served on faculty as an instructor and course director at the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Medicine where she facilitated instruction of patient-centered interviewing techniques to medical students.
Caroline’s social work career has focused on mental health and patient/client advocacy. She has worked in inpatient psychiatric settings for geriatric, adult, adolescents, and children as well as advocated for victims of domestic violence abuse. This combination of experience has led Caroline to participate with Johnson County’s Community Violence Action Council (COMVAC) – Elder Abuse Committee.
Nicole Black, LMSW
Nicole is a licensed social worker with over fifteen years of experience working with individuals with dementia or special needs and their caregivers. She believes in advocating for her clients collaboratively while navigating their unique challenges. Honoring her clients’ dignity and strengths are of utmost importance to her. Nicole has worked with a varying number of individuals, from Alzheimer’s patients participating in clinical trials, to adults and children with special needs in a community setting.
Nicole is a trained social worker, having completed her clinical practicum at the Alzheimer’s Association. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Kansas and lives in Columbia, Missouri where she enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. When she has free time, she enjoys hiking, bicycling, attempting to garden, and reading. She also owns Peaceful Posture, offering in-home gentle yoga for those with dementia, those recovering from cancer treatment, and their caregivers.
Additionally, Nicole believes in giving back to her community. Currently, she serves as a NICU volunteer baby rocker at the University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Erica Connor & Nicole Black proudly serve the Columbia, MO area.
Barbara Chamblin, Care Manager
Diversified is how Barbara describes her career. Her experience spans all age groups from babies to the aging. Her work and life experiences have culminated in her desire to remain productive and satisfied in life through her support of seniors.
Barbara graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. She also earned an Associate’s Degree in Nursing from Penn Valley Community College and pursued a rewarding career in nursing, working in labor and delivery, pharmaceutical trials and home health.
Barbara has served as a caregiver to family members with Alzheimer’s as well as supported friends who are caregivers for their family members. Barbara provides a “hands on” approach that, along with her diversified professional and personal experience, aligns well with the mission and goals of AgeWise.
Barbara is also active in the community by serving at a local food kitchen, sponsoring the Tea ‘N Talk group at a senior community center, volunteering with hospice and providing respite care through her church. Barbara is a member of Kansas Advocates for Better Care.
Tanya Ortman, LMSW
Tanya believes the human experience is utterly unique yet commonalities bond us together. Holding each person’s and each family’s story in the forefront as aging and transitions take place helps us to appreciate that uniqueness and still find the commonalities that create meaning. Tanya enjoys relationship building and also the challenge of navigating systems and creating positive change.
Tanya holds a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Washington and has undergraduate degrees in both social work and health management/human ecology. She has work experience in care management for high risk children and families as well as hospital discharge planning. Tanya spent three years as a volunteer with a medical NGO in the Philippines and considers that time to have been very formative in the development of her worldview and work with people.
Tanya resides with her spouse and four children. She enjoys gardening, seasonal cooking and food preparation, running for physical and emotional well-being, and watching soccer.
Erica Conner, LMSW
Erica is a licensed social worker with over ten years of experience working with older adults and families in a home and community-based setting. Erica values establishing a therapeutic relationship, while using a solutions-focused approach to collaborate with and empower clients. She promotes clients’ right to dignity and self-determination, with the goal of maintaining their quality of life and reducing family stress. Her passion is fueled by years of experience as a family caregiver, which provided her with insight related to caregiver stress and the need for support when navigating the maze of resources and services.
Erica earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Missouri. She completed her clinical practicum with the Alzheimer’s Association, where she received extensive training to support individuals and families at all stages of the disease. She also holds a Bachelor of Social Work and a minor in Sociology, having completed her foundation practicum at a continuing care retirement community.
Erica has a special interest in rural communities and a true passion for working with families who have been impacted by dementia. She has experience facilitating a Caregiver Support Group and is trained as a Cognitive Stimulation Therapy and Circle of Friends facilitator.
Erica and her husband live on a beautiful farm in Fulton, MO with their dog, cats, goats, chickens, and ducks. She enjoys gardening, hiking, road trips to Colorado and anything chocolate.
Erica Connor & Nicole Black proudly serve the Columbia, MO area.
Mitchell Skidmore, LMSW
Mitchell is passionate about working with older adults because the older we get the more unique and complex we become! Finding the best match between available services, and the unique needs of each person is always Mitchell’s goal. If you have questions about the complexity of aging services for yourself, a family member, or friend, Mitchell would love to help bring you clarity and direction. Sometimes you know what needs to be done, but you need an extra set of hands to do the work. Mitchell is also a compassionate companion in the work of aging well.
Mitchell grew up in Kansas City, then spent a decade learning about the perspectives and experience of many different people. During this time, Mitchell obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from Brigham Young University, and a Master’s of Social Work with an emphasis in multigenerational clinical practice with elders from the University of Washington in Seattle. After returning to Kansas in 2019, Mitchell worked for several years in the aging field including complex/chronic medical case management, grief counseling, and hospice care. Emotional well-being is an important aspect of all care. Mitchell provides counseling and psychotherapy services to adults having difficulty with depression, anxiety, caregiver strain and role changes. Mitchell is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Aging Life Care Association.
When not engaged in professional pursuits, Mitchell is often at home reading, spending time with family, volunteering in his community, or enjoying the outdoors. After so many years away, it’s great to see fireflies (or lighting bugs if you prefer) again! To curb the occasional hankering for the mountains, he makes frequent visits to the rock climbing gym where he enjoys conquering complex route problems!
Mitchell proudly serves the Lawrence, KS and Topeka, KS areas.
Emily Jeffrey, LSCSW, LMSW
Emily is a licensed clinical social worker with a background in community mental health and healthcare. She believes compassion, understanding, and holding a judgement free stance in her work is important in her approach in working with others. She is skilled at relationship building, and does what she can to help empower and advocate for each person she works with. Communication is one of her strengths, and she does not shy away from helping to facilitate difficult discussions or therapeutic work around grief, end of life discussions, or challenges that are unique to aging.
Emily attended Kansas State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. While working in direct service with individuals with severe mental health diagnoses, she felt drawn to Social Work with its emphasis on social justice, service, integrity, and the importance of human relationships. She then attended graduate school at the University of Kansas for a Masters in Social Work. Her graduate experience includes work with Veterans, HIV Case Management, inpatient and outpatient hospital settings, and dialysis. With her clinical license she is so able to offer psychotherapy through Agewsie to both clients and family members. She enjoys having a blend of care management and clinical work.
Outside of work with Agewise KC she is a wife and mom of two young boys. She also has a unique interest in complementary health practices, and does some individual and group work using Vibrational Sound Therapy and Reiki. She enjoys Pilates, reading, gardening, the outdoors, quality time with her family, and travel.
Gail Benton, Daily Money Manager
Gail grew up on a Kansas dairy and graduated from Emporia State University. He has been doing accounting work all his adult life and attributes his success in the field as having the good fortune of being hired by a small public accounting firm when he was a Junior in college, which provided the necessary experience for him to be hired by a local CPA firm in Emporia, KS. He served as Manager of the Bookkeeping department for two years, then was promoted to a Controller position over the firm’s four CPA offices, gaining valuable experience in computerized Time and Expense systems and partner billings until moving on to private accounting.
Since 1986, Gail has served as either a property accountant, controller, or CFO in four different corporate offices of senior communities. His favorite employment was 7 years as CFO for a large Kansas Continuing Care Retirement Community, spanning over 80 acres serving approximately 450 residents in independent living duplexes and apartments, assisted living units, and a 100-bed long term care home.
In those 7 years, Gail got to know the residents well. The greatest feeling, he states, is that employees and residents became family. His most treasured memory of those years was when one resident was going to pass away soon from cancer and asked Gail to play his guitar and sing to him and his wife prior to his death, and also to sing for his funeral.
Gail lives with his wife in Lees Summit, Missouri and are members of the First Baptist Church of Lee’s Summit. Besides music, Gail’s hobbies include golf, shooting range, and horse trail riding with his older brother.
Philosophy of Business
- In preserving dignity, quality of life and family relationships
- Seniors need an engaged advocate when things get tough
- In finding creative, cost-effective solutions to challenges of aging
- Excellence in professionalism, knowledge, expertise and objectivity
WE ARE DRIVEN BY
- Passion for sharing the journey of aging with our clients and families, with all its bumps and turns, making a difference along the way.