Thelma Watson, PhD

Thelma Watson
  • Executive Director, Senior Connections
  • Capital Area Agency on Aging
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Thelma Bland Watson has served as Executive Director of Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging since 2002.  Senior Connections, one of 25 Area Agencies on Aging, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is based in Richmond.  She previously served as Assistant Executive Director of the Crater District Area Agency on Aging in Petersburg and served in several capacities with the Crater Planning District Commission. Senior Connections is a private (501c3), nonprofit organization that provides opportunities to improve the overall quality of life and health for seniors and their families, especially caregivers.  The organization provides a range of home and community-based services for seniors (older adults), persons with disabilities and caregivers to help eliminate isolation.  Senior Connections partnered with the United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg to develop the Region’s first Age Wave Readiness Plan with a focus on promoting diversity and creating livable communities for all ages.  Senior Connections is partnering with the Department of Gerontology at Virginia Commonwealth University to implement key components of the Age Wave Readiness Plan.  In 2015, the Age Wave Initiative received the Valentine History Makers Award.

Thelma Bland Watson is a former Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Aging for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department for the Aging (now a part of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services).  She also served as Executive Director of Field Services for the National Committee on Social Security and Medicare in Washington, D.C. from 1997 to 2002.  She is a gerontologist and public administrator who serves on key health-related Boards and Commissions.  She has served on the Boards of  the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Richmond, the Virginia Health Quality Center, Project Homes (formerly ElderHomes) and Covenant Woods Retirement Community.  She currently serves on leadership Boards for the Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging (V4A), the Capital Area Workforce Investment Board (RESOURCE), the Dean’s Committee for Humanities at Virginia State University and Bon Secours Community Hospital.  At the State level, she has served on the Public Guardian and Conservator Advisory Board with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), the Board of Directors for the Virginia Legal Services Corporation and the Steering Committee for the 2016 Governor’s Conference on Aging.

Thelma Bland Watson received her undergraduate degree from Virginia State University (VSU) in Sociology with a concentration in Social Work.  Dr. Watson received a graduate degree in Gerontology and a Doctorate in Public Policy and Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).  She also received certifications from the Virginia Executive Institute and the National Long-Term Care Institute. Dr. Watson has more than 30 years experience in nonprofit management and leadership. In 2015, Dr. Watson received the Humanitarian Award from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.