Care Team

team member - Trish Colucci BarbosaTrish Colucci Barbosa, RN-BC, CCM, LNCP-C

NJ State Registered Professional Nurse
Certified Aging Life Care Professional
Certified Case Manager (CCM)
Certified Gerontological Nurse (BC)
Lifetime Nurse Care Planner – Certified (LNCP-C)
Board of Directors of Aging Life Care Association (ALCA)
Past President of the NJ Chapter of ALCAALCA logo

I’ve always had an interest in blending the science of healthcare with the rewards of  caregiving, so nursing was a natural choice for me. I was lucky enough to work in many areas of nursing throughout my career, including hospitals, nursing homes, medical offices, and home care.

For many years, I worked as an insurance case manager for individuals with catastrophic injuries and life-threatening illnesses. I helped coordinate their medical care and made sure they received the best treatments available. Later, when my son was born with special needs and required complex medical care, I used my finely-tuned case management skills to successfully manage his care. Before long, other families started to come to me for help with their loved ones. It was then that I realized that my nursing skills combined with my case management expertise filled a special need in people’s lives, so I decided to bring those services to the public with my own care management agency.

My favorite part of being a care manager is working directly with elderly and disabled clients.  Each person has an interesting story and unique needs. I love finding my place in each client’s life, identifying their needs and using my skills and compassion to create a care plan to make things better.


team member, suzanneSuzanne Wheatley, RN

NJ State Registered Professional NurseALCA logo
Geriatric Care Manager
Aging Life Care Professional™

Throughout my life, I’ve felt the calling to be a nurse.  I felt more alive – every cell was on a heightened level – whenever I walked into a hospital. Helping people who are facing medical crises was something I always wanted to do.

While I was in nursing school, my dad became very ill. I learned firsthand how challenging it can be to balance the needs of my husband and children, the demands of nursing school, and the complicated daily management of my dad’s medical care. When my clients share their stories about feeling overwhelmed with responsibility, I can completely relate.

It surprises people to hear that nursing was not my first career. I worked in the corporate world for some time before deciding to pursue my dream to become a nurse. I love that I can combine my corporate management skills with the nursing skills I learned while working in the hospital to ease the burden on the clients and families I work with as a geriatric care manager.

The greatest rewards I receive as a geriatric care manager are the times when I receive that thank you or smile of relief from a family I have helped. It makes me feel good to know I’ve made someone’s life easier, happier, less worrisome or less painful.


Starr Ramella, BSW, CSW

NJ State Certified Social Worker
Geriatric Care ManagerALCA logo
Aging Life Care Professional™

Growing up, I hadn’t thought about becoming a social worker, but I always knew that I would wind up in a “caring” career.My mom was a nurse and my role model, and she passed along to me her passion for helping others. As a teenager, I enjoyed a very close relationship with my grandparents and shared in the caregiving they needed. Caring for my grandparents helped me realize my soft spot for working with older folks, and when I went to college, social work was a natural fit. I haven’t looked back since!

I have worked in different settings caring for elderly people, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, physical rehabilitation facilities, and assisted living facilities. With this varied work experience and my social work background, geriatric care management was a logical next step in my career and a job I have enjoyed for over 12 years.

What I love about being a geriatric care manager is seeing the relief on the faces of family members when I explain the different options available to them in caring for their loved one. Being able to hold a hand, give a hug, share tears, and provide reassurance to an elderly person or family member is so rewarding. At the end of the day, it makes me feel good to look back and know that I made a positive difference in someone’s life.


Lori Friedman, MSW, LSWLori Friedman, MSW, LSW

NJ Certified Social Worker
Geriatric Care Manager
Aging Life Care Professional™ALCA logo

I feel very honored to have the opportunity to work with older people. They have decades of valuable and interesting life experiences which gives them a unique perspective on the world today. Listening to them talk about the joys and challenges they faced along the way is one of the things I love most about being a geriatric care manager.

My own grandmother and I spent a lot of time talking about these things, especially as she got older and needed more care. It was while providing care for my grandmother, alongside my own mother, that I first learned about the social work profession. My grandmother faced many age-related issues and she encountered many caring geriatric professionals along the way. From that experience I learned how these special people and their work made a difference in my grandmother’s life and quality of life. I wanted to do the same for others.

I spent most of my early career coordinating services and advocating for seniors who were mostly homebound. I have also worked in hospital settings, community-based programs, home care, and led support groups for family caregivers. I am thrilled to be part of the knowledgeable and caring team at Peace Aging Care Experts who help older people navigate the often difficult terrain encountered during this period in their lives.


Mary AndrewMary E. Andrew, RN

ALCA logoNJ State Registered Professional Nurse
Geriatric Care Manager
Aging Life Care Professional™

When I was growing up, there was a book in our house about human physiology. I thought it was fascinating, and read it over and over. So I’ve always been interested in the human body and how it works. I began my career in respiratory therapy, and had the opportunity to watch the amazing nurses at Providence Hospital in Seattle, Washington. My wish was to be just like them, and to help provide a healing touch. So I found my place in this world through nursing, which has enabled me to live that dream. I have been blessed and honored to be a member of an amazing group of men and women in healthcare.

The experiences I’ve gathered over the past three decades – from medical/surgical, hospice care, visiting nursing, oncology, clinical research, pulmonary education and now care management – have put me in touch with many wonderful people and enriched my life beyond measure. I find my work with the elderly very special and heartwarming. They have wonderful and sometimes sad stories to tell, and they often need that one person to help them find their voice, and to act as their advocate.

Every day I go to work, it doesn’t really seem like work. I love what I do and the personal rewards for me are endless. After 30 years, nursing is still a joy and the place I need to be. Because we share a common vision on the quality of patient care, working with the dedicated team of clinicians at Peace Aging Care continues to be exciting for me professionally.


Maria Curry, RNMaria Curry, RN

ALCA logoNJ State Registered Professional Nurse
Geriatric Care Manager

From the time I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I can’t say exactly how I knew nursing to be my calling, but I suspect the fact that my older cousin, who was like a sister to me, was a nurse, must have had something to do with it.

When I graduated from college with my shiny new RN degree, I accepted a job on one of the specialized departments at the Burn Unit of St. Barnabas Hospital. That was a very challenging unit with many severely injured patients in need of highly skilled care and a lot of caring and patience. It tested my fortitude but it also reinforced that I was where I was supposed to be and that I was meeting my calling.

During my 12-year run at St. Barnabas, I spent time on the Medical-Surgical and Diabetes units as well as in the Utilization Review, Quality Review and Case Management departments. Outside of my hospital work, my own family members (as well as friends) relied on me to guide them through the illnesses of loved ones. I was happy to share my skills in this way. Looking back, I gained valuable, varied experience in many different care arenas. This well-rounded experience helps me to be a better care manager.

Throughout my nursing career, I’ve always had a fondness for working with the elderly. I love hearing my elderly patients tell me their life stories, hearing the life lessons they’ve learned, and the history they’ve witnessed.

People of any age deserve to be treated with respect, to have a voice, and to be supported. I am passionate about helping this special population, guiding them and their families through life’s twists and turns, and ensuring that they not only receive the best care and advice, but that they are always treated with love and compassion. 


lisa kennedy, team memberLisa Kennedy, RN

NJ State Registered Professional Nurse
Geriatric Care Manager

My desire to be a nurse began when I was very young. My mother was a nurse and I always admired her passion for her career and her dedication to her patients. One of my fondest memories is when I was young and I accompanied her to one of the homes of her private duty patients. While waiting for her, the family greeted me and spoke of my mother with such appreciation and loving admiration, it was as if she were a member of their family. That is when I knew that I would follow in my mother’s footsteps.

Nursing has graced me with many positive and diverse experiences both in my life and in my career. I’ve had the opportunity to work in medical/surgical units, the intensive care unit, quality improvement and risk management departments, as a school nurse, and for the past 20 years, as a care manager.

After 35 years, I have the same excitement about nursing as I did on the day I graduated. I feel fortunate to be in a profession that is so rewarding every single day. Being a geriatric care manager allows me the opportunity to have a meaningful, positive impact in the lives of the elderly population (who have always held a special place in my heart) as well as their families, and it is where I can truly make a difference by using my nursing passion, knowledge and experience to make their world a better place.

I am very thankful to be part of the Peace Aging Care team and to continue to enrich my career and my life through nursing. I know my mother would be very proud.


Judee PriestJudee Priest, RN, BSN

NJ State Registered Professional Nurse
Geriatric Care Manager

I don’t remember what made me decide to become a nurse. I just know that being a nurse is what makes me…well, me! I love working with people to make them feel better and to help them when they aren’t able to help themselves. Even in a tough situation, it feels good to hold someone’s hand or touch their cheek to let them know someone cares.

After earning my bachelor’s degree in nursing years ago I worked in many areas of nursing, but most of my in-hospital career was spent in the Intensive Care Unit, caring for the sickest of the sick. My clinical and assessment skills were sharpened in this care environment, but I never lost my love for emotionally connecting with my patients. Working as a geriatric care manager, I use all of these skills daily.

For me, being a geriatric care manager is like being a nurse with Super Powers! Advocating for my clients and really fighting to help them get the benefits and services they need and deserve, despite the road blocks that come along, is what I do. When I look into the eyes of a vulnerable client or the client’s distraught family, it motivates me to work even harder to do what needs to be done in order to ease their emotional pain.


Julie Cunningham, RN, BSNJulie Cunningham, RN, BSN

NJ State Registered Professional Nurse
Geriatric Care Manager

Growing up I always enjoyed math and science, yet I never envisioned myself working in healthcare.  This is surprising since I was surrounded by family members working in the healthcare field:  my father was a pharmacist with his own retail pharmacy (where I worked since age 15) and my mother was a nurse and had been telling me since I was 5 years old that I should be a nurse!

Despite this maternal encouragement, I went to college and graduated with a degree in psychology.  Following graduation, I continued to consider career options that would allow me the opportunity to integrate science and social work.  Nursing became the obvious choice – finally!

After obtaining my nursing degree, my first job was at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson where I cared for a variety of patients with cardiovascular and neurological conditions.  The unit was fast paced, clinically challenging and an invaluable experience.  Yet something was missing, there seemed too little time available to listen and get to know my patients and not enough opportunity to provide them with essential education and emotional support.

This feeling led me to Home Care, and I spent the next 21 years supporting patients’ healthcare needs in their home setting.  This allowed for the one to one, individualized plan of care that I yearned for.  I fully enjoyed the time I spent developing personal relationships with my patients and their families.

My experience as a home care nurse, clinical liaison, and care coordinator led me to working in acute care, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living communities, physician offices and residential settings.   I so enjoyed helping patients transition safely to home.

I find working with the geriatric population extremely rewarding; I delight in helping clients during this challenging life stage.  In my position as a geriatric care manager, not only can I assist in improving my clients’ quality of life, I also gain so much learning from their stories, wisdom and values.

Being a geriatric care manager is the perfect cumulation of clinical and social fields and I am grateful to have to opportunity to be a true advocate for seniors and their caregivers.


Marisa Pazar, CTRT

Certified Therapeutic Recreational Therapist
Friendly Visitor Activity Program Coordinator

Growing up as a young kid I honestly had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I bounced around several ideas and careers, but I always told myself no matter what I end up doing, it needed to be something that I was passionate about.

Family is the most important thing in my life. One day, my grandfather, with whom I was very close, had a stroke. My family and I stuck together with him throughout his entire recovery process. Seeing how all the therapists, social workers, and nurses came together and treated him with such compassion, respect, patience and motivation was truly inspiring to me. As a result of their care and our family’s support, my grandfather was brought back to the strong man we all knew and loved prior to his stroke.

After seeing this amazing process, my heart was set on working in the health care field. My journey led me to earning a degree in Exercise Science. It was there that I was introduced to the field of Therapeutic Recreation and I immediately fell in love!

Being able to create activities to stimulate individuals both mentally and physically is such a rewarding experience! I have experience working with people who have all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Not only have I made an impact on their lives, they have truly made an impact on mine!

At Peace Aging Care Experts, LLC, I am excited to bring Therapeutic Recreation into the lives of our clients. My position offers me the opportunity to bring mental stimulation, engagement, joy and happiness to their lives just the way the therapists and nurses did for my grandfather. I’m honored to be a part of such an amazing team and to be in a position where I can bring to our clients all aspects of what Therapeutic Recreation has to offer.


valerie alfonso, team memberValerie Alfonso

Administrative Assistant

I’ve been a part of Trish’s team since 2010, supporting the care managers and making sure that the office runs smoothly. I find rewards in the work that we do for families every day – whether it is through a conversation I have with them on the phone, or assistance with essential tasks, such as grocery shopping. It’s amazing what a difference a warm and friendly presence can make in people’s lives, especially in a time of need. I’m glad that I can be a part of something that means so much to so many families.


Isabella LeniarIsabella Leniar

Bookkeeper

I’ve always been a “people person” and have had a special place in my heart for elderly and disabled folks.  I am fluent in three languages (English, Portuguese and Spanish) so I can communicate with just about anyone!

Due to unexpected challenges life sent my way while in my 20s, I wound up developing into a strong medical advocate for a close family member.  I know – firsthand – the challenges of trying to ensure that a loved one gets not only the right care, but the best care.

I have found that in addition to my personal caregiving experience, my college degrees in Accounting and Health Sciences have prepared me perfectly for my bookkeeping duties at Peace Aging Care Experts, LLC.   Families who call me with questions about an invoice need clear and accurate information, but they get my compassion and admiration, as well.