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headshot of Ayn Welleford

E. Ayn Welleford MS, PhD

Associate Professor & Gerontologist for Community Voice

Email: ewellefo@vcu.edu

Areas of Interest

  • Appreciative Gerontology: Loving our Longevity
  • Adult Development & Aging
  • Compassion Satisfaction & Compassion Fatigue
  • Ethical Decision Making and Human Values
  • Bridging Classroom and Community through Community-University Collaboration


  • PhD in Developmental Psychology, from Virginia Commonwealth University
  • MS in Gerontology, from Virginia Commonwealth University
  • BA in Management / Psychology from Averett University

Research Interests

  • Building Compassion Satisfaction
  • Innovations in Community-University Partnerships
  • Appreciative Education


Dr. Welleford has taught extensively in the areas of Lifespan Development, Developmental Gerontology, Trends in Gerontology, as well as Ethical Decision Making.

As Associate Professor and Gerontologist for Community Voice she currently works to make our community a great place for all people to GROW older by bridging classroom and community, affirming and equipping our workforce through appreciative education, and supporting us all in learning to love our longevity. Dr. Welleford is the Director of VCU Gerontology Community and Continuing Education. Our mission statement is to equip and affirm Virginia’s eldercare workforce community to bring forth meaningful change.

She has been known to say, “Let’s do something that does something.”

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  • 2018 Phoebe and Frank Hall Humanitarian Award, from Senior Connections, for her significant advocacy, Contributions, and Leadership.
  • 2017 Humanitarian Award, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
  • 2015 Richmond History Makers for work on the Greater Richmond Age Wave,  encouraging regional collaboration
  • 2012 Mary C. Payne Leadership in Aging Award for her visionary leadership as a trailblazer in the field of aging
  • 2011 AGHE Distinguished Teacher Award
  • 2011 Alzheimer's Association Advocacy for person centered dementia care and work on Virginia’s Statewide Dementia Plan
  • 2007-2011, Chair of the Governor's Commonwealth of Virginia Alzheimer's and Related Disorders Commission

Selected Publications & Projects

  • 2022 CHP Mentoring
  • VCU Gero CCE
  • Aging for Life Training, Greater Richmond Age Wave Coalition 
  • Person Centered Personal Care Aide School, 2019
  • Welleford, E. A. (2023). Souvenirs from the Journey: Building Compassion Satisfaction through Confidence, Competence, Connectedness, and a Climate of Compassion. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 29(1), 35–46. Retrieved from https://reflectionsnarrativesofprofessionalhelping.org/index.php/Reflections/article/view/1946
  • Welleford, E. A., Watson, T. B., Amateau, G., & Johnson, M. (2023). Insights and Innovation: How a Local Public-Private Partnership is Building Home Care. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/07334648221147915
  • Welleford, E. A., Amateau, G., White, J. T., Stanculescu, N., (2021). Combating Compassion Fatigue: An Appreciative Pivot to the Virtual Classroom in a New Educational World. Journal of Appreciative Education. Special Issue: Innovations in Appreciative Education (8), 3-21.
  • Welleford, E.A. (2021) Building Compassion Satisfaction through Self Honoring Practices, Honoring the Work, and Creating Compassionate Communities. CSA Journal, 85(4). 32-37.
  • Van Aartrijk, A., White, J., Amateau, G., Welleford, E.A., (12 July 2021). Community EngAGEment: University, nonprofit and municipal partnerships emerging from the pandemic. American City and County. Retrieved from: https://www.americancityandcounty.com/2021/07/12/community-engagement-university-nonprofit-and-municipal-partnerships-emerging-from-the-pandemic/
  • Taylor, Suzänne F, Coogle, Constance L, Cotter, James J, Welleford, E. Ayn, and Copolillo, Al. "Community-Dwelling Older Adults’ Adherence to Environmental Fall Prevention Recommendations." Journal of Applied Gerontology 38.6 (2019): 755-74. 
  • Gendron, Tracey L, Inker, Jennifer, and Welleford, Ayn. "“How Old Do You Feel?” The Difficulties and Ethics of Operationalizing Subjective Age." The Gerontologist 58.4 (2018): 618-24.
  • Arbogast, Charlotte E, Welleford, E. Ayn, and Netting, F. Ellen. "State Dementia Plans and the Alzheimer’s Disease Movement: Framing Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Motivation." Journal of Applied Gerontology 36.7 (2017): 840-63.
  • Gendron, T., Inker, J., & Welleford, E.A. (2018). “How Old Do You Feel?” The Difficulties and Ethics of Operationalizing Subjective Age. The Gerontologist.
  • Gendron, T., Inker, J., & Welleford, E.A. (2017). A Theory of Relational Ageism: A Discourse Analysis of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. The Gerontologist.
  • Arbogast. C., Welleford, E. A., & Netting, E., (2015). State Dementia Plans and the Alzheimer's Disease Movement: Framing Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Motivation. Journal of Applied Gerontology.
  • Welleford, E. A. & Netting, F. E. (2013). Taking a broader look at preparing for boomer volunteers: Beyond tips and tricks. The International Journal of Volunteer Administrators, XXIX, (3), 23-30.
  • Ligon, M. B.,Ehlman, MC., Moriello, G. & Welleford, E. A. (2009). Oral History in the Classroom: Fostering Positive Attitudes toward Older Adults and the Aging Process. Journal of Aging, Humanities and the Arts. 3(1), 59-72.
  • Welleford, E. A., Parham, I. A., Coogle, C. L., Netting, F. E., Burke, A. L., & Boling, P. (2005). The Emergence of a Geriatric Interdisciplinary Team Training Certificate: A University-Community Partnership. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 24(3), 248-261.
  • Cotter, J. J., Welleford, E. A., Vesley-Massey, K. (2003) Town and Gown Collaborative Research: Challenges And Opportunities. Family and Community Health: Community Based Innovations in Older Populations 26(4), 329-337.