Staff & Board

 Thelma Bland Watson, PhD

Thelma Bland Watson, PhD

Executive Director
Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging
Thelma Bland Watson, PhD Executive Director

Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging

Thelma Bland Watson has served as Executive Director of Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging since 2002. Senior Connections, one of 25 Area Agencies on Aging, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is based in Richmond. She previously served as Assistant Executive Director of the Crater District Area Agency on Aging in Petersburg and in several capacities with the Crater Planning District Commission. Senior Connections is a private (501c3), nonprofit organization that provides opportunities to improve the overall quality of life and health for older adults, families and caregivers. The organization provides a range of home and community services for older adults, persons with disabilities and caregivers to facilitate social connections and support individual needs. Senior Connections partnered with the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg to develop the Region’s first Age Wave Readiness Plan with a focus on promoting diversity and creating livable communities for all ages. Senior Connections is partnering with the Department of Gerontology at Virginia Commonwealth University to manage key components of the Age Wave Coalition, which is now the Longevity Project for Greater Richmond. Among awards and recognitions, the Age Wave Coalition received the Valentine History Makers Award and Dr. Watson received the Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities as well as recognition as a Richmond Person of the Year Honoree. Dr. Watson has been instrumental in implementing the No Wrong Door Service Coordination Program in Virginia with community partners under the leadership of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS).

Dr. Watson is a former Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Aging for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department for the Aging (now a part of DARS). She also served as Executive Director of Field Services for the National Committee on Social Security and Medicare in Washington, D.C. from 1997 to 2002. She currently serves on leadership Boards for the Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging (V4A)-Immediate Past President, Honoring Choices Virginia-Treasurer, Capital Area Workforce Investment, Central Virginia Coalition of Health Care Providers (an Accountable Care Organization), Project Homes, Covenant Woods Retirement Community, the Virginia Legal Services Corporation and the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority. Dr. Watson serves on the Steering Committee for the 2021 Virginia Governor’s Conference on Aging.

Dr. Watson received her undergraduate degree from Virginia State University (VSU) in Sociology with a concentration in Social Work. Dr. Watson received a graduate degree in Gerontology and a Doctorate in Public Policy and Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She also received certifications from the Virginia Executive and the National Long-Term Care Institutes. Dr. Watson has extensive experience in nonprofit leadership, health care management and service delivery for older adults and caregivers.

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