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Women Inspiring Scientific Progress (WISP) includes passionate and active supporters of Alzheimer’s prevention who advocate on behalf of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.

Each year, WISP members vote on how to direct their pooled contributions to support Banner Alzheimer’s Institute programs and services that advance:

  • Advocacy

  • Education

  • Patient and family support services

  • Opportunities for women in science

WISP membership includes an annual contribution of $1,000 (Advocate) or $1,500 (Partner), Membership candidates must be referred by an active WISP member. The WISP Membership Committee reviews applications each quarter. WISP members receive:

  • Special updates on the latest Alzheimer’s research

  • Information on advances in care for people with Alzheimer’s disease

  • Education on potential Alzheimer’s prevention strategies

  • Opportunities to network with like-minded women

  • Invitations to Banner Health signature events

  • Advance notice of Banner Health news

WISP is supported by the Byron T. Shutz Foundation, by granddaughter Elie Shutz Gaines.

WISP members

Rebecca Ailes-Fine, Founder

Martha Hunter Henderson

Hazel Richards

Connie Binns

Suzanne Hensing

Michelle DeJean Schechner

Connie Boker

Suzi Hilton

Joette Schmidt

Oonagh Boppart, Founder

Phyllis Kirk

Mary Ann Sheely

Prue Brito

Jessica Langbaum, PhD

Mary Joy Stead

Melanie Brown

Julie Lavidge, Founder

Jo Taulbee-Flittie

Kate Burke

Sara Lee

Heidi Teets

Diane Cantile

Linda Mueller

Nancy Teets

Jacquelynn Dorrance

Carol Norman

Diane Willian

Pat Elder

Andy Kramer Petersen


Amy Flood

Dilys Popper











WISP makes a difference 

Each year, WISP members vote on how to direct their pooled contributions to support Banner Alzheimer’s Institute programs and services. Since its inception in 2014, WISP has designated over $231,000 to fund: 

  • Helping Families Navigate Alzheimer’s disease – To provide education and support materials for caregivers. Caring for a person with dementia takes ongoing education, support, and mentoring. WISP has funded several much needed materials and programs to support patients and families along their journey with the disease.

  • GeneMatch – WISP is providing funding to support monthly informational sessions for the GeneMatch program. The program gathers genetic information from participants which will be used to match them to studies. The informational sessions have been beneficial in recruiting study participants for the API Generation Study, a prevention study that focuses on whether two investigational drugs can prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

  • Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative Webinars – To fund six webinars hosted by the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry. The Registry was launched in 2012 as a research recruitment platform to inform the public about Alzheimer’s prevention research news and information. The Registry currently has more than 280,000 members. The webinars will serve as an educational vehicle to communicate with members about research news and opportunities.

  • Supporting Patients and Families: Locally, Nationally, Globally – To provide online education opportunities for caregivers. As a caregiver of someone with dementia, time is precious and sometimes traveling somewhere to receive ongoing education is simply not possible. WISP has funded several opportunities for Banner Alzheimer’s Institute to provide caregiver information and resources online so that it is accessible and convenient for caregivers.

  • Supporting Patients and Families: Stead Family Memory Center – To provide care and support services for patients and families through meetings with patient navigators and several core caregiver classes. At Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, physicians spend significant time with patients and families and once a diagnosis is made, a care plan is developed in partnership with a team of specially trained dementia specialists, physician assistant, doctoral-trained nurses, and social workers. Key components of the coordinated care plan are meeting with a patient navigator and the management of non-medical issues such as communication, financial planning, and family support as well as addressing medication management, and medical and non-medical behavioral management.

  • Imaging Fellowship – WISP has funded a portion of an Imaging Fellowship for a post-doctoral PhD. This position will work alongside the Institute’s new brain imaging expert, Cary Savage, PhD, as well as Eric M. Reiman, MD, executive director; Pierre N. Tariot, MD, director; and Kewei Chen, PhD, senior scientist. This fellowship will help accelerate Banner Alzheimer’s Institute’s efforts to improve its ability to detect and track the earliest brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias as well as to detect the effects of experimental therapies.

  • Impact on Families Study – To fund a one-year study to explore the impact that learning APOE genetic results can have on an individual’s family relationships as well as other close relationships. The Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API), led by Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, will launch the pioneering Generation Study in partnership with Novartis, Amgen, and the National Institutes for Health. The study will involve about 60 sites in Europe and North America and include participants who have two copies of the APOE4 gene and will learn their APOE results. WISP is supporting Banner Alzheimer’s Institute researchers as they conduct interviews with a subset of trial participants.

  • WISP Summer Intern Scholarship and Awards – Benefits a female student or students participating in the eight-week Banner Research Summer Internship Program by providing financial resources for those who may not otherwise be able to participate. The WISP Summer Intern Award was launched with the goal of furthering opportunities for women and encouraging young women to enter the fields of science and research.

  • Dementia Care Initiative – Invested in care management portion of the Dementia Care Initiative, a proposed plan to establish a new national standard of dementia care for patients and families, redesigning the healthcare environment, training physicians and clinical staff, and reducing healthcare costs. The Initiative trains primary care physicians to identify, diagnose, and coordinate treatment for dementia patients and their families. The goal is to ensure increased diagnosis, effective disease and cost management by family physicians, supported by the expertise of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute for the most complex and challenging cases.

Learn more:

(602) 747-GIVE (4483)