John A. Hartford Foundation President Terry Fulmer is working to protect seniors

(Getty/KatarzynaBialasiewicz)

Terry Fulmer, Ph.D., President of The John A. Hartford Foundation

Age: 65

Education: She has a geriatric nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate from New York University, a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Boston College, a master's in clinical nursing from Boston College and a bachelor's in nursing from Skidmore College. 

About her: As head of The John A. Hartford Foundation, Fulmer is a preeminent authority on applying evidence-based practices to older adults. She's one of the minds behind the Age-Friendly Health Systems model, which assists hospitals and health systems in providing high-quality care to seniors. Fulmer's organization and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement published a guidebook to the Age-Friendly Health System approach in April. So far this year, 179 hospitals and primary care practices have been certified in the program. In addition, Fulmer was named as a member of the National Advisory Council on Aging and she earned the 2019 Donald P. Kent Award, which is awarded to a member of the Gerontological Society of America who best exemplifies the highest standards for professional leadership in gerontology through teaching, service, and interpretation of gerontology to the larger society.

First job: Staff Nurse at Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, MA. This was a magical time of life for me as I entered into an amazing healthcare environment with remarkable leaders and outstanding nursing. It was transformative. I will always be indebted to Trish Gibbons for her lifelong mentorship.

Accomplishment she’s most proud of: I am most proud of my three adult children, Nina, Holly and Sam, and my 44-year marriage to Keith. In the context of a very busy career, my family has always supported me, believed in me and made sure I kept my sense of humor throughout. I love them dearly along with my multiple siblings, cousins and relatives! I come from a very large family as my father, Francis X. Thomas, was one of seven children.

Problem she’s most passionate about trying to solve: I’m passionate about eradicating elder abuse and improving care for older adults through my work at The John A. Hartford Foundation, a private national philanthropy based in New York City. The greatest success story of the 20th century has been the increase in longevity. However, we have not yet addressed how to take care of those who make it into very old age. It's essential that we get this right, particularly with the aging baby boomers and the upcoming demographic changes that will ensure a workforce shortage of caregivers. We may partially solve this through apps, avatars and robots, but we need to get going now. One immediate solution is the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement, which is rapidly spreading throughout the country and ensuring that all older adults get evidence-based care that reduces harm and focuses on what matters to older adults and their families.  

Book she recommends: Anything by Ron Chernow! Over the summer I read "Titan," the story of John D. Rockefeller, and I'm currently reading "Grant," the story of the civil war and his presidency. Both are stories of incredible tenacity, grit, perseverance, vision and dedication. We can all learn from that and from their flaws and how they came to live with them.

Advice she’d give her younger self: I would say a major life lesson is to forgive and forget wherever possible. With all the tension in the world, forgiveness is an important attribute.

    What she’d do with her career if it wasn’t this: I can barely imagine a life where I was not a nurse, but having said that, the alternative would have been to have seven children! My kids are so great and a true gift every day.

    John A. Hartford Foundation President Terry Fulmer is working to protect seniors

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