Staff & Alzheimer's Disease Caregivers

More Information

Our staff is committed to coming alongside you on the caregiving journey. Passionate about supporting caregivers, this team brings years of training and experience into their roles.

Dr. Richard Durant, Project Director

Dr. Richard Durant is Principal Investigator and Project Director for the Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative. He is a trained Clinical Neuropsychologist, Associate Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at SUNY Plattsburgh, and Clinical Director at the SUNY Plattsburgh Center for Neurobehavioral Health. Dr. Durant has been providing clinical services for people living with dementia and their families for over 10 years and overseeing dementia clinical and support services for SUNY since 2013. His research focuses on developing evidence-based psychosocial and educational support interventions and programs for caregivers of people with central nervous system disorders.

Valarie Drown, M.S., NCC, LMHC,
Project Co-Director

Valarie Drown is the Co-Project Director for the Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative.  Valarie graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling.  Her passion has always focused on how to best serve those individuals either, with a memory related difficulty, and/or supporting their caregivers.  Valarie has been working in this field for 19 years and continues to feel blessed to have a career that inspires and motivates her each day.

Kimberly Comisky, Respite Program Coordinator

Kimberly Comisky is the Respite Program Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative. She helps connect those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia to local respite providers in the counties the Initiative covers — Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and Washington. Kimberly is a graduate of Sienna College where she earned her BA in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. She has been working in human services for over 15 years and is passionate about helping families obtain the care they need. Her goal as Respite Program Coordinator is to help caregivers feel less alone. Her hope is that anyone providing care has someone they can reach out to, whether it is through the Caregiver Support Initiative, a friend, a peer or another community agency.

Kristen Fleming, Regional Coordinator for Education and Training Services

Kristen Fleming is the Regional Coordinator for Education and Training Services for all counties covered within the Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative — which includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and Washington. She graduated from Saint Michael’s College with a B.A. in Sociology and Education. As the Coordinator for Education and Training Services, Kristen provides free specialized education for caregivers of those with dementia. She facilitates training in group settings or on a one-on-one basis in the caregiver’s home. She is passionate about education, providing caregivers with knowledge, and connecting them to resources within their communities.

Wendy Koehring, Essex County Care Navigator

Wendy Koehring is the Essex County Care Navigator for the Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative and works out of the Elizabethtown office. In that role, her goal is to do everything she can to assist families navigating the challenges of dementia. Wendy’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, which prompted her to self-educate and now enables her to share her knowledge with others entering their caregiving journey. She was an outreach worker at the Office for Aging before joining the Caregiver Support Initiative team. There, Wendy gained great understanding of the physical, financial, mental and emotional obstacles that seniors face as they age.

JoAnn Southworth, Franklin County Care Navigator

JoAnn Southworth is the Franklin County Care Navigator for the Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver Support Initiative and works out of the Malone office. She attended Plattsburgh State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. JoAnn has more than two decades of experience in the healthcare industry. She previously served as a social worker at a healthcare facility and as an Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP) case manager in Clinton County. She has navigated the difficulties of caring for loved ones living with memory issues and relates well to caregivers who are on a similar journey. JoAnn wanted to become a care navigator to help others in Franklin County discover what she has learned as a caregiver.