OWL Board of Directors
Margaret Hellie Huyck, Ph.D.
Margaret Huyck has been a gerontologist for more than 40 years, beginning with her graduate studies with the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago. She is Professor Emeritus from the College of Psychology at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). She has published two books about aging (Growing Older: What You Need to Know About Aging, 1974; and The Psychology of Adult Development and Aging, 1984), and has lectured in the U.S., Norway, and the Netherlands.
Margaret has been working with two research projects, including exploring the responses of blind individuals to the prospect or reality of receiving a brain implant device intended to restore perception. Previously, she was the principal investigator for an intensive study of 150 families that explored the ways the generations influenced each other as they moved along the life course.
Her contributions have been recognized within IIT with the Julia Beveridge Award for Outstanding Women at IIT. She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. She was awarded a Senior Science Policy Fellow by the American Psychological Association 1997-98; during that year she worked in the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health.
Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, J.D.
Lida Rodriguez-Taseff is a commercial trial lawyer who also handles intellectual property, employment discrimination and retaliation cases, and voting rights law. Among her professional activities, she provides legal commentary for national and international media outlets including the BBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, FOX, CNBC, MSNBC, Univision, and Telemundo. She serves on the Board of Directors of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Friends of the Bass Museum of Art, and South Florida Jobs With Justice, and is Chair Emeritus of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. Among her distinctions, she was recipient of Business Leader Magazine’s Women Extraordinaire Award in 2011. She is a partner at Duane Morris LLP, where she is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Joan Bernstein, J.D.
Joan Bernstein is an award-winning author on Social Security issues with a long and productive history with OWL. She has served twice as President of OWL National, as Vice President and Chair of the Public Policy Committee, and currently serves as treasurer. Bernstein is a nationally-recognized expert in Social Security and Medicare, and was a leader in OWL’s Medicare for All initiative. She practiced law in St. Louis, MO where she was a Commissioner and Vice Chair of the St. Louis Housing Authority. She previously served as President of the St. Louis, MO chapter of OWL.
Janna Starr, M.A.
Janna Starr is a Policy Analyst for the Oregon Health Authority, working on healthcare transformation for Oregon’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program populations and state implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Before returning to Oregon in 2007, she was Director of Disability Rights, Technology, and Family Policy for The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy Disability Policy Collaboration in Washington, DC.
Previously, she was Executive Director of the Oregon State Council on Developmental Disabilities; Director of Public Policy for the national Brain Injury Association in Alexandria, VA; Senior Policy Associate for United Cerebral Palsy Associations in Washington, DC; Policy Analyst for the Oregon Advocacy Center in Portland, Oregon; and Executive Director of The Arc of Oregon in Salem, Oregon; the Arc of the Capital Area in Austin, Texas; and El Centro Social in San Marcos, Texas. Janna has been honored with numerous awards over the years for her work with individuals with disabilities and disability organizations.
Tina Bigdeli, M.S.W.
Tina Bigdeli has been advocating for women and girls for over ten years in many different capacities and is currently serving as Maryland Outreach and Direct Services Program Manager for FAIR Girls. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Mary Washington. She then worked for four years in the mortgage industry. Because of her experience as an advocate for women and girls, she felt a deeper passion for serving others. Tina received her Masters in Social Work from Howard University and interned at OWL, where she represented OWL at meetings with national partners, leaders, legislators, and stakeholders; contributed to the 2012 Mother’s Day report; helped manage the member database; and researched development opportunities.
Carol Gardner, B.A.
Carol Gardner is the founder of Zelda Wisdom, Inc., an international, multimillion-dollar company she started in her living room with greeting cards featuring her English bulldog, Zelda. At age 52, recently divorced, depressed, and in debt, she received advice from her attorney to “get a therapist or get a dog.” Choosing the latter, she leveraged her background as an advertising creative director and Zelda’s good looks to build her licensing business that includes calendars, books, greeting cards, and more. She has served on the boards of the World Affairs Council, the Portland Symphony, Portland Art Museum, Emanuel Hospital, and the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center. She’s volunteered for Morris Animal Foundation’s campaign to find a cure for canine cancer, and is working to promote the Zelda Children’s Hospital Initiative. She also works with the Banfield Charitable Trust’s Pet Peace of Mind project, which keeps people in hospice together with their pets.
Silver Spring, MD
Gracia Hillman provides nonprofit management and strategic development consulting services and is a Senior Fellow at Demos, which works to expand the freedom to vote for all American citizens. Her areas of expertise include voter engagement, voting rights, and election administration, as well as the interests and rights of women, racial minorities, and people with disabilities. From 2003 to 2010, she was a Commissioner of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, serving as Chair in 2005 and Vice Chair in 2004 and 2009. Her distinguished professional experience also includes having served as President and CEO of WorldSpace Foundation, Senior Coordinator for International Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State, Executive Director of the U.S. League of Women Voters, and Executive Director of the National Coalition on Black Voter Participation. Her writings include “Toward A More Perfect Union: The Congressional Black Caucus & Voting Rights,” and “E-Voting and Democracy in America.”
Beedie Jones, M.Ed.
Beedie Jones is Manager of Mather’s—More Than a Café, located in the Chatham community of Chicago. She’s a national aging network advocate with over 30 years of experience in the field of aging. She has extensive knowledge and expertise in management, training, counseling, project development, and community organizing, and serves on several boards.
Prior to joining the Mather’s team, she was employed with AARP for 12 years in its Southwest Regional Office in Dallas, Texas, as Operations Manager for the region and State Director for Louisiana and Arkansas. Other professional experience includes Director of Mature Worker Training & Employment Program, Counselor at Pennsylvania State University, Texas Southern University, University of Texas Medical School, and Director of the Histology-Chemical Laboratory at Indiana University Medical School.
Peggy Parolin, M.A.
Kansas City, MO
Peggy Parolin has worked as the Director of Licensing Acquisitions-Editorial for Hallmark Cards, where she has partnered with Disney, Warner Bros., Peanuts, Marvel, DreamWorks, Lucasfilms, The Simpsons, Garfield, and others.
She was one of the original writers for Shoebox humor; her titles at Hallmark included Director of Humor, where she was responsible for strategic funniness; Idea Exchange Leader, where she was challenged with maintaining a non-corporate environment for the criminally creative; and Creative Product Director for both Season and Everyday Greetings.
Peggy remains active in her community, serving as President of the Shade Tree Fund of Greater Kansas City, and is a past board member of the Kansas City Friends of Jung. She’s a trained Court-Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children and has volunteered for her children’s schools.