Letters from Charlotte & Kate

From Charlotte Dickson, VMC Executive Director

Dear Village Members and Colleagues,

I’ve missed you during these past seven months of medical leave and appreciate the opportunity to write this newsletter column.  

I started my leave in mid-October after receiving a diagnosis of advanced ovarian cancer. I was stunned by this finding, and I quickly decided to focus entirely on treatment. I was confident that Carolyn Ross could excel in the position of Interim Executive Director and that Patrick Shandrick and the Board of Directors would work with her to carry the organization forward. This was a good decision as the chemotherapy and surgery were successful, and Village Movement California continues to thrive.  

I am doing well emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I’ve been humbled by the vulnerability created by my cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. I had to ask for a lot of help, and I had to give up control of many aspects of my day-to-day life and of my identity as your Executive Director. Does this sound familiar? The village movement addresses these human experiences of loss, vulnerability, and identity shift!  

One outcome of the medical leave is my decision to resign from my position of Executive Director. My priorities have shifted, and I will retire from professional employment at the end of May. It’s a little earlier than I had planned, but I’m ready to let go of the responsibilities of leading a statewide movement. I heartily believe that change in leadership is good, and that the staff and Board are doing a superb job.  

I am proud of all that we achieved in our years together. We built a solid, statewide organization with a powerful brand and portfolio of programs that will accelerate uptake of the village model across California. We successfully advocated for inclusion of villages in the state’s Master Plan for Aging. We built relationships with powerful stakeholders crucial to implementation of the Plan’s village goal: AARP California, California Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the CA Department of Aging, the CA Commission on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association, the California Collaborative for Long Term Services and Supports, Sistahs Aging with Grace and Elegance, and West Health, to name a few. I am confident that these relationships will grow and flourish.  

I hope you will deepen your connections to Village Movement California. Each village and village leader has something unique and powerful to contribute to our collective, and it is through collective action that we will expand our movement to reach the thousands of older adults who need our model of care. 

With sincere thanks and gratitude,


From Kate Hoepke, VMC Board Chair 

Dear VMC Members and Friends:  

It is with both joy and sadness that we say goodbye to Charlotte. Joy because her treatment has been successful! She’s ready for a new beginning in her life and I’m thrilled for her. Sadness because her time as leader of VMC ends. Charlotte has been an extraordinary champion for our work and I’m deeply grateful for all the ways she made our intentions manifest. She was the right person at the right time – full of passion, possibility and chutzpah.    

Thanks to Charlotte, villages in California have a seat at the table in the statewide aging services network. We’re known and respected by colleagues, funders and policy makers. Because of her leadership, VMC has built the nation’s first Village Incubator, supporting new village development and promising to reduce start-up time. Up next is the Village Accelerator to expand village capacity in areas like strategic planning, social care navigation, and overall sustainability. The long-term goal is to demonstrate the immense value villages can deliver, thereby attracting reliable funding from government and health care sources. 

Since early this year, VMC board and staff members have been developing a leadership transition plan to ensure continuity and take Charlotte’s vision to the next level. We will have more to share in the weeks and months ahead. The Board of Directors thanks Carolyn Ross for wholeheartedly assuming the role of Interim Executive Director without missing a beat. It is a joy working alongside her and Patrick Shandrick, VMC Communications Manager. Together, we will navigate the changes to come.  

I look forward to seeing you at the 6th Annual VMC Conference September 12 -13, taking place in La Jolla. The planning committee is hard at work lining up sponsors, speakers and workshops that will inspire you to imagine what’s next for your village and the work we do together to revolutionize aging! 

Grateful to be in community with you,

Community Care Connections members provide support through transportation assistance

Member Spotlight

Care Connections Network, Huntington Beach

Care Connections Network is a vibrant, active village located in suburban Huntington Beach, California. It is a faith-based village and its membership is comprised of both congregation and community members.  Members are focused on educational and social opportunities and the most popular of these is the monthly educational seminars with a free lunch. Seminar presenters are sourced from local community partners and vetted vendors or other organizations serving older adults often sponsor the lunch.