Karen Ortiz

Karen Ortiz

The Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter has named Karen Ortiz as director of development. Ortiz is a third-generation Santa Barbara native with some 30 years of development experience as a volunteer, board member and staff member serving nonprofits and the banking industry across the Central Coast.

Her former position with the Lompoc Valley Medical Center led to the creation of an outreach program, in addition to the collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association to help support the center’s family caregiver support network.

During the pandemic, Ortiz, who lives in the Santa Ynez Valley, stepped into a volunteer role for the Alzheimer’s Association as a certified dementia educator to deliver free virtual programs to local families affected by the disease. She also helped the association grow its Spanish language offerings and identified Spanish-speaking educators.

Ortiz’s involvement with these various programs opened her eyes to the world of dementia while simultaneously being a caregiver for her mother, who was in the early stages of dementia. Her mother passed away in May.

“I am so fortunate to be able to join the Alzheimer’s Association in this very special role, so that I can help and honor more people that need our services,” Ortiz said. “Everyday, my mother will be my brightest light of inspiration.”

“It was vital that we selected a seasoned candidate familiar with our diverse Central Coast communities,” said Lindsey Leonard, executive director. “I am confident that Karen’s skill set and passion for the cause will support our chapter’s growth and allow us to raise vital funds to support our mission and help local families affected by the disease.”

The Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter is currently raising funds and awareness for dementia care, support and research through its Walk to End Alzheimer’s events. Upcoming walks will take place in San Luis Obispo on Oct. 29 and Santa Barbara on Nov. 7. To learn more, visit alz.org/walk or email Karen at kdortiz@alz.org.

Funds raised through the walk support the free programs provided by the Central Coast Chapter, including education classes, support groups and care consultations throughout San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Access to free programs is crucial for the 700,000 plus individuals living with Alzheimer’s in California, along with their 1.12 million caregivers. The 2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report projects a 21.7% increase in the state’s population of those living with Alzheimer’s by 2025, totalling 840,000.

For more about the Alzheimer’s Association, visit alz.org or call 800-272-3900.