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October 01, 2015

New Commission on Law and Aging Chair and Members

(The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: (Bifocal, Vol. 37, Issue 1).)


Each September 1, a new roster of Law and Aging Commissioners is appointed by the ABA president. Most Commissioners serve for multiple years with a handful of new faces starting in any given year. This year, we have a new Chair and six new Commissioners; you will find them to be a diverse and highly expert group in their individual disciplines.

Below, you will find short biographies of our incoming Chair and our six new Commissioners.

HON. PATRICIA BANKS, Chair, serves on the Executive Committee of the Circuit Court of Cook County and is Presiding Judge of the Elder Law and Miscellaneous Remedies Division of the Circuit Court. She served as a trial judge in the Domestic Relations and Law Divisions prior to her current assignment. Immediately prior to her judicial career, Judge Banks practiced extensively in the areas of probate and family law. Other employment included a position with Sears Roebuck & Company as its first African American Attorney specializing in advertisement and employment law from 1974-78, and staff attorney with the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities and the United States Department of Labor. Judge Banks has several certifications in mediation, including advanced training in Adult Guardianship and Eldercare mediation. Additionally, she has held various leadership positions, including Chairperson of the Illinois Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinating Committee, Chairperson of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association and member of the Chicago Bar Association Board of Managers. Currently, Judge Banks is a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ Family Violence Advisory Committee and the Center for Conflict Resolution Board of Directors She is a 1972 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School.

IVÁN CHANIS BARAHONA currently serves as the Legal and Political Counselor of the Mission of Panama to the Organization of American States (OAS). He is the current Vice President of the working group in charge of drafting an Inter-American Convention on the Human Rights of Older Persons. Mr. Chanis is in charge not only of negotiating international conventions, but am also producing opinions about projects on education, human rights, competitiveness, and science and technology, among other topics. He is also part of the team in charge of representing Panama in Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and has worked closely with the AARP Office of Gender, Diversity and Human Rights, considering the health perspective in the negotiation of different international treaties in the Inter-American system. The past few years he has been involved in specific themes for the Americas Agenda, such as: non-discrimination, the rights of Elderly, Indigenous, and LGBT. Mr. Chanis’ academic background includes studies in Panama and the United States, but also for shorter periods in Spain, Italy, England, and Brazil; these experiences provide a broad international perspective. He has an LL.M. in General Studies, focused on International Law, from New York University, and has studied Law and Political Sciences in Catholic University in his home country Panama, although he is not a licensed lawyer in the U.S. His background, experience, and his current focus on an international aging treaty make him a superb addition to the Commission's expertise.

JEAN CALLAHAN is the Director of the Brookdale Center on Healthy Aging at Hunter College. Brookdale is one of the country’s leading academic gerontology centers and seeks to improve the lives of older adults through research, policy and professional development. She presents frequently on elder abuse, financial exploitation, guardianship, and access to health care for older adults. Jean also coordinates the Westchester County Elder Abuse Multi-disciplinary Team (MDT). Prior to joining Brookdale, Jean was the founding Director of the Guardianship Project at the Vera Institute of Justice. A model program that provides high quality Article 81 guardianship services for incapacitated elderly New Yorkers regardless of their ability to pay for services. In 1998-99 Jean served as a White House Fellow with Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala. Earlier in her career as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, Jean represented elderly and homebound New Yorkers in areas such as housing, health care, home care, consumer law, financial exploitation and entitlements. A graduate of New York University, Jean received her law degree from Rutgers University and her Masters in Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work.

RICKER HAMILTON is Deputy Commissioner of Programs for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. He oversees programs and services in the Offices of Aging and Disability Services, Child and Family Services, Multicultural Affairs, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Violence Prevention (Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services); and Maine’s two psychiatric hospitals, Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center and Riverview Psychiatric Center. He has over three decades of experience in social work specializing in adult protective services and services for adults, older persons and person with disabilities. Mr. Hamilton was founder of the Maine Elder Death Analysis Review Team. He has served on various Boards including the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine, the Attorney General’s Elder Fraud Task Force and the Maine Medical Center Clinical Ethics Committee. Mr. Hamilton is an Instructor at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and has served as an Advisory Board member for the Community Counseling Center, Elder Advisory Council; the American Bar Association’s Elder Abuse Project; curriculum advisor and trainer for the FBI and is a guest lecturer for the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women; National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life; National Institute on the Prosecution of Elder Abuse; and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Mr. Hamilton has a B.A. degree from St. Anselm College, M.S.W. degree from Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and Certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy as a Reserve Law Enforcement Officer.

BRUCE ROSS has over 40 years' experience litigating trust, estate, and conservatorship matters and is the chair of Holland and Knight's national Private Wealth Services Dispute Resolution Team. Mr. Ross is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (California Board of Legal Specialization). He is a past president and regent emeritus of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. Mr. Ross and colleagues successfully negotiated a $2.8 million judgment on behalf of Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney and his court-appointed conservator in an elder abuse lawsuit against a Rooney family member. The lawsuit alleged that the family member and his wife had financially and verbally abused Rooney for more than 10 years, leaving the famed entertainer powerless over his assets and personal life. Mr. Ross is a consultant to and expert witness for plaintiffs and defense attorneys, accountants, and malpractice insurance carriers in the areas of estate planning, probate, fiduciary litigation, and professional responsibility.

HON. KATHERINE TENNYSON is a Circuit Court Judge in Multnomah County, Oregon. Judge Tennyson is a member of the Family Law Department, which is a unified family court. Since July 2002, Judge Tennyson’s docket has included cases involving probate and protective proceedings, dissolution, custody, parenting time, support enforcement, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency and dependency and termination of parental rights. Judge Tennyson became the Chief Probate Judge for the county in January 2007. Judge Tennyson is the Secretary of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Prior to her election as Secretary, Judge Tennyson chaired the Family Violence and Domestic Relations Advisory Committee for the Council for three years. Judge Tennyson has served as faculty for NCJFCJ national judicial training including the Child Abuse and Neglect Institute, Enhancing Judicial Skills in Elder Abuse Cases and the Institute for New Family Law Judges. She is a 1981 graduate of Duke University and a 1984 graduate of Lewis and Clark College Law School and was admitted to practice law in both Oregon and Washington in 1984.

CAROLE WORTHINGTON is a solo practitioner in Knoxville, Tennessee, with nearly 30 years’ experience in estate planning and administration, non-profit organizations, real estate, equine and elder law. She earned her J.D. and B.S. with honors at the University of Tennessee where she was a member of the Tennessee Law Review. She has served as Chair of the Alumni Advisory Council of the U.T. College of Law and as a member of the Dean’s Circle. Ms. Worthington has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Tennessee Bar Association, President of the Chattanooga Bar Association, and on committees for the American, Tennessee, Knoxville and Chattanooga Bar Associations. She served on the TYLC Commission on Women and Minorities. Nationally, Ms. Worthington was selected as President of the National Conference of Bar Presidents and has been selected to sit on the National Conference of Bar Presidents Nominating Committee which will meet to recommend five Executive Council members and the future President of the NCBP. She has been elected to three terms as a national Delegate-at-Large to the American Bar Association House of Delegates and has served on committees and commissions of the American Bar Association and House of Delegates. Her current memberships include the American Conference of Bar Presidents, the American and Tennessee Bar Foundations, and the American, Tennessee, and the Chattanooga and Knoxville Bar Associations. ■