Our Challenge

Dementia and other symptoms of memory loss are a big problem in this country. In Sonoma Valley alone, we estimate there are more than 1,000 individuals experiencing some form of cognitive decline. Most still live at home, which means that there are another 1,000 to 2,000 caregiving friends and family members who are also affected.

The Good News Is

that with proper support, both Care Partners (care receivers and care providers) can still enjoy a quality life.

The Bad News Is

that until now, the support available has only reached a fraction of the Sonoma Valley families that need it.

The Challenge

How to educate more people and connect them with support opportunities that
will enhance their quality of life.


Our Collaborative

CarePartners Initiative is a nonprofit organization formed in March 2019 to tackle this challenge.

Our approach is to partner with our community’s established service providers. If they have relevant programs and events, our job is to build greater awareness for those programs. We also work with our partners to adapt, create and promote new services, including new activities , support groups and educational events.

In short, we are a catalyst for creating greater awareness and support for Sonoma residents dealing with cognitive decline.

Community Partners

Our Strategic Partners

Our Supporting Partners


The organization is led by a Governing Board responsible for the achievement of CarePartners Initiative strategic objectives and for the delivery of its annual operating plan.

Whitney Evans, Chairman

As the Care Partner for his wife, Jeanette, Whitney is a passionate advocate for families with a member with dementia. He is a dedicated community volunteer, playing a role in the success of many nonprofit organizations in the valley to include the Sonoma Valley Fund, he is President emeritus, Village of Sonoma Valley, he is a founding board member emeritus, Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Club and the Education Foundation. In 2012 he was selected as the Alcalde, honorary mayor, by Sonoma City Council in recognition of his nonprofit leadership.

Thomas G. Deegan Ph.D, CEO/Board Member

Tom and his wife, Kathrina, are caregivers for his mother-in-law who is suffering from dementia.

His background includes being a public school teacher and administrator, as well as multi-leadership positions in business, focusing on leadership training and personnel development.

He completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Education from the University of Nebraska. He attained his Ph.D in Education with an emphasis in Leadership Training from Claremont Graduate University, in conjunction with the Peter F. Drucker and Matsutoshi Ito Graduate School of Management.

Tom is an Advisory Board Member for the Connective Leadership Institute (CLI), Pasadena, CA and is also a CLI Certified Practitioner and Member of the International Leadership Association (ILA).

Mary Piasta, Esq., Board Member

Mary Piasta, Esq. is vehement about creating a world that embraces neuro uniqueness while building a community to support caregivers.  After all, we are all caregivers in some way.  Mary blends personal and professional experience to serve as a legal resource and sounding board for the complex issues caregivers need.  Combining a passion for law with a deep-rooted commitment to the ties of family, Mary adeptly navigates the intricacies of family-owned businesses and multi-generational family estates to resolve legal tangles, sort out complex real estate issues, and alleviate the legal complexities of family ties.  With a compassionate outlook, she counsels families gripped by the specter of dementia; as a granddaughter, mother and daughter, Mary has seen and grappled with care challenges within her own close knit family.  
Mary feels blessed to call wine country home, where she lives with her husband, three children and fur babies.

Jim Keck, Board Member

Working as caregiver for his wife, Dorothy, in early stage Alzheimer’s he has networked with many other caregivers of spouses and family members challenged with dementia. He is passionate in helping others with knowledge and support to care for a loved one as well as oneself. He brings extensive experience as a training specialist in various industries and is recognized as a born teacher and networker.
He values caregiver help available from Alzheimer’s Association, Council on Aging, and other resources and wants to make all that and more available to many others. He also knows that we must identify and reach out to many more in our community who need support and help.

Dr. Patricia Brooks, Emeritus Founding Board Member

Dr. Brooks has practiced as a psychotherapist in traditional and integrative medical settings for over 35 years. Her practice in Sonoma includes individuals and family members who are coping with symptoms of cognitive decline.

Heidi Lage, Board Member

Heidi Lage is a caregiver to her mother who suffers from dementia. Heidi is passionate about forming a community in which we can learn, grow and support one another through the journey of caring for a loved one affected with memory loss. Heidi has lived in Sonoma Valley for over twenty years and has been an active member of the community. She is a practicing licensed marriage and family therapist. She has a Master’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Nevada Reno as well as a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Sonoma State University. Heidi also has over 20 years of experience as a social worker for a nonprofit agency providing care and advocating for those in need.

Advisory Council

Our advisors hold responsible positions in supporting organizations and/or have experience and expertise in cognitive health. They will be called upon regularly to lend their expertise in support of our mission.
Judith Bjorndal, M.D. Pediatrician, Medical Director at Sonoma Developmental Center, retiredDenise Kalos Founder & CEO, AFFIRMATIVhealth (RE:Mind program)
Dr. Patricia Brooks Dr. Brooks is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Mental Health Counselor located in Sonoma, CA.Nancy King Executive Director Pets Lifeline
Shelley Dombroski Alzheimer’s Association’s Director North BayKelly Mather CEO BayHealth and Wellness Author, former CEO Sonoma Valley Hospital
Madolyn Agrimonti Board MemberMark Nilsson Director, Sonoma Hills Retirement Community
Carson Watson CaregiverHeldi Rutherford Caregiver and Art Therapist

Charitable Status

Our Fiscal Sponsor is Inquiring Systems, Inc (ISI), a California nonprofit 501c3 corporation founded in 1978. This fiscal sponsorship relationship provides CarePartners Initiative the 501c3 legal status to accept tax exempt donations. ISI handles the regulatory compliance and provides us with other administrative and legal support