Subject: Important Announcement from NYCEAC
on behalf of Dr. Ronald Adelman and Dr. Mark Lachs

November 16, 2020

Dear friends, colleagues, and passionate elder justice advocates:

It is with profoundly mixed emotions that we share the retirement message below with you from our dear friend and cherished faculty member, Risa Breckman.

A giant in our field, we have known Risa for decades. Ron co-authored a seminal book on elder mistreatment with Risa in 1988 and Mark met her in 1990 when we all met with others to coauthor the first AMA guidelines on Elder Abuse. We knew immediately that we had to work with this remarkable woman. A few years later when we started the geriatrics program at Weill Cornell Medicine we were able to entice Risa to come join us as the Division’s first director of our social work services.

That was one of the smartest moves of our careers. Decades later, her influence and style can be found everywhere in our programs. In our creativity. In our community mindedness. In our integrity. And in our passion for making the world a safer, better, and fairer place for older people and anyone who suffers. There are so many things we love and admire about Risa, but recently we have come to recognize her fearlessness and eagerness to embrace change and growth as among her most remarkable attributes.

Risa has led NYCEAC from being a shared idea in the minds of many NYC elder justice stakeholders to a thriving, impactful organization. Staff and faculty are involved with EMDTs, technical assistance, case consultations, education and training, clinical work, research, policy development, social media engagement, and thought leadership.  Risa has focused NYCEAC on creating programs that are innovative, fill gaps, are replicable and scalable, and from which we can create knowledge. NYCEAC’s reach is now not only in NYC, but throughout NYS, nationwide and international.

We, the co-chiefs of Weill Cornell’s Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, are proud of Risa and her leadership of NYCEAC’s incredibly smart, talented and dedicated staff, and of all that they are accomplishing. NYCEAC was created in partnership – and continues to work in partnership – with a wide array of accomplished organizations and individuals, and generous funders, without whom NYCEAC would not have flourished.

We are fully committed to NYCEAC’s vision and mission, and to the professionals, older victims and concerned persons NYCEAC serves. Rest assured that NYCEAC has the full support of our Division during this time of transition. To ensure stability, Risa has committed to staying on until an interim or new Executive Director is in place. If you have any questions, please contact Mark Lachs at mslachs@med.cornell.edu.

While a formal event will be planned for the future, for now please join us in congratulating Risa, wishing her well, and thanking her for helping to make Weill Cornell Medicine an international leader of Elder Abuse Science, Service, and Policy.

With Admiration and Gratitude,

Mark Lachs MD and Ron Adelman, MD
Co-Chiefs, Geriatrics and Palliative

From NYCEAC’s Executive Director, Risa Breckman, LCSW

November 16, 2020

Dear friends and colleagues,

I want to share with you an important announcement. Sometime soon, the exact date still to be determined, I will be retiring from my position as Executive Director of the NYC Elder Abuse Center. I am so grateful for every minute of the wonderful 40 year plus social work career I’ve had. But I am ready now for new beginnings. In the short-term, I look forward to doing things I have never done, like gardening and artistic pursuits, and then also joining efforts to heal our divided country. After Covid-19, I hope to travel with my husband and build community in the upstate area where we have been living during the pandemic. I am also leaving the door open to serendipity.

I have had the good fortune to have worked over half of my career at the Weill Cornell Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine – a place brimming with brilliant, dedicated, big-hearted people, and with co-chiefs embracing creativity and community-based work. With this as the solid base of operations, for the last 13 years I have been singularly focused on planning, growing, and sustaining the NYCEAC. Back in 2008, NYCEAC was a collective dream shared among many NYC government and non-profit elder justice professionals. Through many group discussions, careful planning, and hard work, together we created NYCEAC.

It has been one of the great privileges of my life to be entrusted as NYCEAC’s leader. Together we realized the initial vision while continuing to dream and innovate, helping so many older adults achieve safety and well-being. NYCEAC now not only serves NYC but also has local, statewide and national influence and world-wide reach. It has been an amazing journey. Along the way I have been blessed to have met incredible, inspiring people – all of you on this email- from whom I have learned so much. I am so grateful for this, for the belief people have had in me, for the partnerships over the years, and for the meaningful conversations and connections that have flowed from the work. Thank you.

I have given the timing of my retirement much thought and consideration and I do believe now is the right time, not only for me but for NYCEAC. The future is bright. We have a mission-driven Board (composed of the Division’s co-chiefs and lead administrator) who are engaged and committed to continuing the organization’s growth and sustainability. NYCEAC’s caring staff is as dedicated, knowledgeable, and collaborative as they come, providing important, needed services. We have funders and supporters who believe as we do that living one’s later life in peace and on one’s own terms is a right worth fighting for and investing in. And there is a world-wide network of professionals and concerned persons working for elder justice through direct services, education, research, policy development and advocacy. Many are current NYCEAC partners and others are potential ones.

I will remain as NYCEAC’s Executive Director until an interim or a new Executive Director is on board. Until then, there is much to be done, so rest assured I am as much “all-in” at this moment as I have ever been, committed to working with the Board, NYCEAC’s staff, and our partners and funders to ensure a smooth transition.

Thank you again for all you have given. Hope to talk with you soon.

Ever onward,
Risa