Barbara Blackman, Director of Community Services
The Board and Staff of Project FIND wish to express their deepest gratitude and appreciation to Barbara Blackman, Director of Community Services, as she retires after thirty years of exemplary service to the organization. Throughout her career, Barbara has positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of older adults through her leadership, creativity, business acumen, and compassion. Barbara and her staff have continually taken senior centers and services to new heights through innovative programming, delicious meal offerings and effective social services.
Barbara said she has “loved every minute” of her time with Project FIND. Her stellar career began when she was appointed Director of the Hargrave Senior Center by then Executive Director, Aston Glaves. Her former college professor had let her know about the position thinking she would be a perfect fit given her previous background in food and nutrition services within the nursing home industry. Barbara quickly adapted and established key relationships with area organizations getting the Hargrave Senior Center known throughout the community and advocating on behalf of seniors. Later, as Director of the Hamilton Senior Center, Barbara instituted a wider variety of cultural meals at the suggestion of her center members. Barbara’s business sense shone through as she balanced increasing costs with providing high quality meals and programming.
Clearly making her mark in two vital managerial positions, Barbara was recruited to the main office by Former Executive Director Cynthia Dial. Ever the people person, Barbara was saddened to leave the staff and clients at the Hamilton site but at the same time looked forward to new challenges that she was called to address. Once she transferred to the main office, she was promoted several more times to Director of all Senior Centers in 2001, Section Head in 2008 and then in 2014 she was elevated to Director of Community Services. One of the highlights of Barbara’s career at Project FIND was in 2014, when the Hamilton Senior Center was named an Innovative Center by the City Department for the Aging (DFTA); an application she developed and designed with Executive Director, David Gillcrist.
Barbara, who wants to be revered as the “most dancing center director,” says the current world situation has required us to rethink how senior centers and services can be offered. “We need to be creative and think outside of the box,” she states. “Virtual services are here to stay and can be offered anytime, anywhere.” At the same time “We are bursting at the seams with interested seniors who want to come back to the center.”
As for next steps, Barbara said she plans to enjoy spending time with those closest to her including her partner, her three children, her many grandchildren as well as her extended family and friends. Project FIND wishes her the greatest happiness on her well-deserved retirement and may she have many years of relaxation and enjoyment!
Project FIND is pleased to announce the appointment of Porsha Hall as its new Director of Community Services. Porsha has spent her career working in the field of aging and states she is “proud to make a living doing what she loves.” Dedication to the human services arena runs in the family as her mother worked at the VA hospital and Porsha has fond memories of accompanying her to work. Porsha’s an alumnus of Project FIND, where until 2015 she was the Program Coordinator of Senior Center Health programs. She has extensive experience in both the management of older adult services and in community-based research. Most recently, Porsha served as SAGE’s (Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders) Director of Program Quality and Innovation where she led the development and implementation of a strategy to measure the impact of the organization’s programs and services.
Porsha states she is excited to be re-joining Project FIND and, while she knows many of our staff, she looks forward to adding to the “team’s already amazing work.” Some of her top priorities when she begins her role on July 13, include examining how increased use of virtual programming and technology may help folks navigate telehealth, mental health care and food provision; how to creatively utilize our outdoor rooftop space for the enjoyment and fulfillment of our residents; and reviewing preventative health measures and programs to help ensure our participants remain active and healthy. Porsha is in the final stages of completing her PhD in Health Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Additionally, she holds a Master of Public Health Degree from Hunter College and a Master of Arts in Gerontology from Georgia State University. Welcome Porsha!