VCU professor’s new book challenges ageism in society

‘It's so normalized that we literally have to unmask ourselves to be able to see it because it's all around us and it's been all around us for decades.’

Tracey Gendron holding her new book, Ageism Unmasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End it
Tracey Gendron, Ph.D., director of the Virginia Center on Aging at VCU, is the author of the new book "Ageism Unmasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End It." (Tom Kojcsich, University Marketing)

In her book "Ageism Unmasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End It," Tracey Gendron, Ph.D., director of the Virginia Center on Aging at Virginia Commonwealth University, challenges why “everything we know about aging is wrong,” and why the concept of generations divides us more than it serves to bring us together.

Click here to read more about Tracey Gendron's book.

VCU President visits Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield

Key topics included importance of social interaction, engagement in older adults

By Malorie Burkett and Kim Ivey
VCU College of Health Professions

Feb. 18, 2022

From left: Tracey Gendron, Alexa van Aartrijk, Joe Casey, Hon. Leslie Haley, President Rao, Rachel Ramirez and Susan Parrish at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield.

From left: Tracey Gendron, Alexa van Aartrijk, Joe Casey, Hon. Leslie Haley, President Rao, Rachel Ramirez and Susan Parish at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield.

VCU President, Michael Rao, Ph.D., recently visited the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield (LLI) where he emphasized the importance of social and mental engagement to the wellness of older adults.

Located in Chesterfield County, the LLI is a member-supported organization designed to meet the educational and social enrichment needs of adults age 50 and "better.” The LLI was established in partnership with the Virginia Center on Aging at VCU, Chesterfield County Public Schools and Chesterfield County. 

Pictured from left: Susan Parrish, Tracey Gendron and Rachel Ramirez

Pictured from left: Susan Parish, Tracey Gendron and Rachel Ramirez

“The Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield strives to be a welcoming community of diverse members dedicated to lifelong learning and personal enrichment,” said Rachel Ramirez, executive director of the LLI. “We are proud to offer midlife and older adults a myriad of opportunities to enrich their lives by engaging in thought-provoking lectures and lively discussions in a social learning environment.”

Accompanying Rao during the visit were Ramirez, Susan Parish, Ph.D., dean of the VCU College of Health Professions; Tracey Gendron, Ph.D., chair of the College’s Department of Gerontology and executive director of the Virginia Center on Aging; and Matthew Conrad, vice president for government and external relations for VCU and VCU Health. Also present were members of the LLI Board of Directors along with Chesterfield County officials, including members of the Board of Supervisors and the Office of Aging & Disabilities Services.

Rao expressed his interest in lifelong learning and his appreciation for the members supporting each other as they stay active and engaged to combat loneliness and social isolation. He also discussed the increasing number of older adult patients coming to VCU for healthcare, and how VCU's mission to put patient needs first includes expanding geriatrics programming at VCU Health and hiring additional geriatricians to treat those patients.

LLI is a learning community of peers who are committed to ongoing education and their own intellectual development. Members want to stay current, curious about the world of ideas, and involved with their own learning. The Institute develops and offers daytime courses, lectures and special events on a wide range of topics taught by volunteer instructors. Additionally, there are no exams or credits, and no college degrees are required.

LLI Chesterfield is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is equal opportunity and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national or ethnic origin.

For more information, visit the Lifelong Learning Institute.

New director named for Virginia Center on Aging

By Malorie Burkett
VCU College of Health Professions

Dr. Gendron headshot

Tracey Gendron, Ph.D., has been appointed executive director of the Virginia Center on Aging (VCoA).

She will maintain her role as chair of the Department of Gerontology in the VCU College of Health Professions, and replaces Ed Ansello, Ph.D., who retired last November.

“Dr. Gendron is a talented leader and gerontologist, and she has dedicated her career to changing the landscape to facilitate healthy, engaged elderhood,” said Susan Parish, Ph.D., dean of the VCU College of Health Professions. “Her passion and commitment combined with her expertise in this field will help advance the Center’s overall mission.”

Created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1978, the VCoA is a critical part of the College of Health Professions, and serves the entire Commonwealth in its interdisciplinary training, research, information and resource sharing.

“Through continued collaborative efforts with partners across our communities, I am excited to lead the VCoA into the future,” said Gendron. I remain committed to advocating for older Virginians and ensuring that they receive the care and resources they deserve.”

Gendron recently authored a new book titled “Ageism Unmasked,” which is slated to release in March. The book reveals the biases behind society’s false understanding of aging, while sharing powerful opportunities for personal growth and strategies to help create an anti-ageist society.

Gendron received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Florida, and both her Master of Science and doctoral degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. With over 25 years of experience as a gerontologist, she has authored and co-authored over 30 manuscripts and seven book chapters on ageism and aging-related topics. She is frequently quoted in popular media outlets, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and U.S. News and World Report. Gendron has spoken about ageism in forums across America and can also be seen and heard as a guest speaker on numerous podcasts and video productions.

Join Us for an Upcoming Gerontology Info Session

VCU’s Department of Gerontology in the College of Health Professions was founded in 1976 and remains the only MS in Gerontology in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our mission to promote optimal aging for individuals and communities is evident through our innovative graduate and continuing education, scholarship, and university-community partnerships. Our graduates further our person-centered, transdisciplinary mission all over the country and globe.

Join VCU Gerontology faculty at one of our upcoming info sessions. Select the topic that piques your interests and goals, and register today. 

Learn about the 15-credit graduate certificate in aging studies | Wednesday, February 16, 2022 11:00 – 11:30am

VCU Gerontology's mission to promote optimal aging for individuals and communities is evident through our innovative graduate and continuing education, scholarship, and university-community partnerships. Our graduates further our person-centered, transdisciplinary mission all over the country and globe. Join VCU Gerontology Dept. Chair Dr. Tracey Gendron and Gerontology Program Director Prof. Jen Pryor to learn all about the 15-credit graduate certificate in aging studies! A key opportunity for all interested in this rapidly growing population and field. Click here to register

Research Labs at VCU Gerontology: Brain Health and Ageism+Elderhood | Wednesday, March 9, 2022 11:00 – 11:30am

Learn about exciting research and ongoing initiatives at VCU Gerontology and the Virginia Center on Aging related to brain health, cognitive decline, dementias, ageism and elderhood. Myriad opportunities for students exist within these VCU Gerontology Research Labs -- join us to learn more! Click here to register

Policy and Advocacy in Gerontology | Wednesday, April 13, 2022 11:00 – 11:30am

Our alumni are changing the world. Join us to hear from Dr. Gigi Amateau and learn about how VCU Gerontologists can make an impact in public policy and advocacy work. The career opportunities for VCU gerontologists are wide in scope and practice. Gerontologists lead policy implementation and advocate for a better future for elders today, and for the elders of tomorrow (in other words, all of us!). Click here to register

Social Justice at VCU Gerontology | Wednesday, May 11, 2022 11:00 – 11:30am

Hear about VCU Gerontology’s mission to end ageism that seeps through every layer of daily discourse in society. All gerontology programs include the scientific study of age, aging, and the aged, including aspects of the social, psychological, and physical/biological spheres of aging. But for VCU Gerontology, it’s a social movement and academic program rolled into one. VCU Gerontologists shift culture for the better, in order to improve outcomes for our communities and to liberate ourselves. Click here to register


VCU honors Annie Rhodes as one of its top 10 graduates of the last decade

Annie Rhodes has been named by her alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University, as one of the university’s top 10 graduates of the past decade.

Featured News Photo for Annie Rhodes Top 10
VCU Alumni’s 10 Under 10 awards celebrate alumni who earned their first VCU degree within the past 10 years and who have enjoyed remarkable professional success, made important contributions to their community and/or loyally supported the university. Rhodes, a research associate in the VCU Department of Gerontology, graduated in 2017 with an M.S. from the VCU College of Health Professions.

When Rhodes began working at a care community at age 16, she had no idea she would find her life’s purpose as an advocate for older adults. But that positive experience showed her how aging is a common experience among humans and the value of fostering a deeper understanding of the physical, mental and societal impact.

Rhodes’ interest in the implications of aging led her to pursue a master’s degree in gerontology at VCU’s College of Health Professions in 2015. The opportunities to grow and VCU’s focus on service learning kept her there as a Ph.D. student in health science, with a concentration in gerontology; she’s studying the impact of health practices among low-income elders with faculty at the Department of Gerontology

“The more I understand the socioeconomic disparities that exist in aging, the more passionate I am about advocating for older adults,” Rhodes declares. “We are all aging people, so any investment in infrastructure or supports for older adults are interests we should all share.”

The heightened risks elders face because of COVID-19 put a spotlight on their needs — and deficiencies in the health care system. “I was immediately frightened for them when the pandemic hit,” she says. Besides the dangers of social isolation that already existed for older individuals, she was most disturbed by the ageism and hostility she witnessed in the form of discriminatory rhetoric suggesting older people are a more expendable segment of the population. This messaging only reinforced her deeply held belief that integrating older adults into the larger community is more important than ever.

For Rhodes, this bridge-building starts with pursuing allyship with marginalized communities and promoting diversity in gerontology research — which first requires building trust. “Coalition building and community partnerships are a big part of my personal mission.” That in turn drives her goal of broader community awareness and engagement to create lasting change. She has a strong interest in increasing the quality of education for nursing homes, which she has been able to foster through the VCU COVID Action Network’s Project ECHO, a mentoring-based learning network or nursing homes.

As she continues to tackle challenges and opportunities in front of her, Rhodes’ thoughtful approach is clear. “I think more than anything I’ll just be listening. And whatever answers the community gives, I’ll be acting on that.” To learn more about the 10 Under 10 awards program, visit

About VCU and VCU Health: Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System.

About VCU Alumni: The VCU Office of Alumni Relations nurtures lifelong relationships with and among current and future VCU alumni. It offers valuable benefits and programs for alumni and creates support for VCU. For more, see

Inker receives Gold Award and Gendron receives Bronze Award

Gendron_Inker award picture of both FacultyJenny Inker, assistant professor and co-director for Assisted Living Administration and Tracey Gendron, chair and associate professor in the Department of Gerontology, recently were honored with Innovative Research on Aging Awards. The awards recognize excellent applied research that offers important implications for the senior living industry.

Healthier together: Confronting loneliness and health care challenges among older adults

Jodi Winship, Ph.D., an associate professor of occupational therapy for the College Health Professions worked in conjunction with Elvin Price (a professor at the School of Pharmacy) and Pam Parsons(an associate professor at the School of Nursing) to examine the affects of long term lack of social connections among older adults. The article below describes how they created and evolved the Richmond Health and Wellness Program to help older adults in need especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Click Here to Learn More >>

VCoA Received CARES Act Covid Funding

The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $90,625 to the Virginia Center on Aging to support VCoA’s Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program in preventing, preparing for and responding to COVID-19. Much of GWEP’s face-to-face training is now being conducted. These funds allow for the purchase of telehealth equipment and the training of health professions students and clinicians to deliver quality telehealth care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.