University of Pittsburgh

Alumnus Takes on Not-for-profit World and Alzheimer's Epidemic

Angela Timashenka Geiger

Angela Timashenka Geiger (MBA '97, A&S ' 92) says nonprofits are a great place to get a lot of experience very quickly, and she would know. As the chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer's Association she is responsible for the organization's customer-facing operations, including programs, marketing, mass market fundraising (like the association's Memory Walks), corporate initiatives, and business development (fee-for-service products and services). "Nonprofits have big problems to solve," says Timashenka Geiger. And an MBA helps one channel his or her analytic skills to solve those big problems." According to Timashenka Geiger, 25 percent of the staff at the Alzheimer's Association's national office in Chicago, Ill., have master's degrees and one-quarter of those are MBAs.

Timashenka Geiger never pictured herself making a career in the not-for-profit world. While pursuing her MBA at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, the Harrisburg native decided only to work in corporate America. But she and her husband, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, wound up in Atlanta, Ga., where Timashenka Geiger took a job with the American Cancer Society (ACS). She credits her MBA for accelerating advancement opportunities there. When ACS Executive Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Harry Johns-a Kellogg MBA alumnus-was recruiting for one particular project, he immediately recognized the value of the degree and offered Timashenka Geiger the lead. And when Johns became president and chief executive officer of the Alzheimer's Association several years later, he asked Timashenka Geiger to join him as chief strategy officer.

In her first few years with the Alzheimer's Association, Timashenka Geiger began to see the disease, which affects more than 5 million Americans, as a women's health issue. The recently released The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's, edited by Timashenka Geiger and several other colleagues, demonstrates that women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer's epidemic. Sixty-five percent of Americans (or 3.3 million) living with Alzheimer's are women and 60 percent (or 6.7 million) of those caring for persons with Alzheimer's are women. The Shriver Report, available at www.alz.org/shriverreport, contains some never-before-released facts about Alzheimer's, including the disease's impact on the workplace.

According to the report, 64 percent of working caregivers say they have to go into work late, leave early, or take time off to provide care. Nearly 50 percent of female caregivers surveyed said they requested but were denied time off to care for an elderly relative, a fact that underscores how support for eldercare lags support for childcare provided by most employers.

The Alzheimer's Association has attempted to be a model employer in terms of eldercare support. That means changing the language of policies governing employee's time off, adding examples from both sides of the life cycle. It also means allowing employees time during the workday to meet with a caregiver support group because, given the demands of work and eldercare, people are unlikely to make time outside the office for this valuable emotional and moral buttress.

Finally, Timashenka Geiger says, being a model employer in terms of eldercare means providing employees with long-term care insurance options because the cost of long-term care are substantial and, the majority are not covered by Medicare. For instance, Timashenka Geiger says the average annual cost of care for a patient with Alzheimer's is approaching $57,000, and approximately 60 percent of that cost is borne by families.

Coupled with impact of Alzheimer's disease on the workplace, Timashenka Geiger says what is most significant about The Shriver Report is that it shines a light on key issues that have to be addressed as the tsunami of Alzheimer's hits. Health experts estimate that by 2050 the number of Americans with Alzheimer's will nearly triple and the cost of Alzheimer's to American society is expected to exceed $20 trillion. With no known cause or cure, Timashenka Geiger says, the time to act is now.