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.
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.
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.
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.
Charlene Fike, B.A.
Warm Springs, VA
Charlene Fike’s entrepreneurial career began in college, where she was earning her BA in social work. She joined the Shaklee Corporation, quickly rising to become one of the youngest people to reach the highest leadership ranks of the company. Using those skills, she was able to launch four businesses before turning 40, and exploring every continent except Antarctica two years later.She has spent the last decade networking with women weavers primarily in Central America and Asia, creating marketing platforms, developing products to provide meaningful employment, and conducting business skill training. Last January, inspired by The Shriver Report on high rates of poverty among women in the US, she, along with her daughter and daughter-in-law decided to start a training program for women in DC transitioning out of homelessness. The goal would be to provide them with the basics of sewing, providing marketable skills, and potential employment opportunities. They are using an unusual ‘modified fundraiser’ approach, creating scarves based on her husband’s unique photographs from around the world. Every 12 scarves purchased from Kilometer66.com will train one woman.
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.
Kathy Perez has 30 years’ experience in the BioPharmaceutical Industry, leading Sales, Marketing, Compliance and Advocacy teams to achieve corporate and healthcare objectives. With a communication degree and a lot of determination, Kathy has been able to expand her professional experience to include a unique variety of healthcare and industry roles, leading her to a passion for healthcare advocacy. As the US Advocacy Lead for Amgen’s launch of Prolia® Kathy was able to focus the national bone health community to achieve US Surgeon General Richard Carmona’s vision of a national bone health alliance. The NBHA was launched in 2009 and today is continuing to make quality and outcome advances in the identification, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis following a fracture after the age of 50. Kathy also led the US Advocacy and Professional Relations activities for Shionogi, Inc.
Kathy has a personal passion for volunteering time with non-profit organizations and is currently a member of the Board of Directors for American Bone Health and the California Hispanic Osteoporosis Foundation Kathy volunteers time as a consultant to the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center as the lead for the communications team and serves as the lead for Communications and Worship Design for Valencia United Methodist Church.
Janet has more than 10 years of experience promoting a wide range of causes. She has worked with UNESCO and other world heritage organizations, helping to strategize U.S. involvement; she has facilitated introductions to various bilateral ambassadors, and is involved in efforts to create an International Museum and Education Center for Women Artists in the Middle East.
She has helped raise awareness and money for countries in Southeast Asia after natural disasters, as well as for women’s education and health issues, such as heart disease and MS. She interacts with high-level government officials, leaders of corporate and community groups, and foreign ambassadors and manages an extensive network of contacts. Janet is currently a board member of the American Committee for Tyre and a member of the Protocol Officers Association. She lives in Rockville with her husband, where she is raising three women of the next generation. Read more about OWL’s board of directors