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The Memory Tree's Staff

We are fortunate to have a dedicated staff of social workers, teachers, and aides, many of whom work as volunteers because of their dedication to The Memory Tree's goals.

Elizabeth Fine, lcsw: Founder

Elizabeth Fine, LCSW, is the Director of The Memory Tree Program and the President and Founder of the Early Alzheimer’s Foundation, Inc.

She continues to work at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine with Alzheimer’s individuals and their caregivers as she has for the last 17 years. She is currently the Director of their Caregivers Program and is on the staff of the Geriatric Psychiatry Memory Evaluation Center. 

Ms. Fine was the first to provide an early stage Alzheimer’s support group in New York City which she continues to run. She was also the Director of Outreach for the Alzheimer’s Research Center at Mount Sinai. 

Ms. Fine lectures to health care professionals and the lay public on Alzheimer’s disease and has authored numerous articles on this subject. Ms. Fine has a private practice where she provides individual and family therapy. 

Barbara Benedict, RYT

After a long-time career as a multi-award winning TV commercial producer, Barbara re-trained for Act 2 as a Yoga Teacher [Vinyasa and Anusara-Inspired], certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach, and Writer.  She teaches Chair Yoga at the Memory Tree at the Educational Alliance as well as regular classes at East West Yoga (Gentle and Yoga for 50+).  Her Workshop: "Yoga for Writers, Artists and All Creative Souls" has received note in Newsweek, Yoga Journal and on VH-I's Salt 'n' Pepa Show.   Barbara's work with both Seniors and Writers was featured in a 2008 Japanese Public Television documentary [NHK] on Alternative Yoga in New York. She works as a Creativity Coach with clients across the country and as a private yoga instructor in New York City.  Barbara is currently writing a book on Chair Yoga.

Lauren Volkmer

Lauren Volkmer is originally from North Carolina but happily became a New York transplant in 1999.  She has worked as a professional performer for 10 years, appearing in local and regional theatre, cabaret, film, and television.  Since 2004 she has been blessed with the opportunity to work creatively with many people affected by Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses and their caregivers.  As a result, she has decided to pursue a master's degree in social work at Columbia University, focusing on program development for the aging population.  Lauren has led several original series of Liberating Poetry performance and writing workshops at The Memory Tree.  She also works with Artists for Alzheimer's and has served as Artistic Director of To Whom I May Concern, a theatre-based project based on the experiences of, and performed by, people with early-stage memory loss. Lauren teaches the "Liberating Poetry from the Page" course at The Memory Tree. 


Jonathan Wilcove, Phd

Jonathan Wilcove, PhD, holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale College and a Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University.  He currently teaches at the Chapin School in New York City and has taught at Teachers College, Columbia University and Fordham Graduate School of Education. He teaches courses on poetry and literature at The Memory Tree.

Sarena Kopciel, LMSW, RYT

Sarena Kopciel, LMSW, RYT, is a woman with a mission of bringing health and fitness to all ages. She herself has lived through and overcome both cancer and diabetes, finding a new passion and purpose in life.

Amanda Williams

A mixed-media fine artist, Amanda Williams is also a museum educator working for such institutions at the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Jewish Museum, and the Museum of Biblical Art.  Her involvement with The Memory Tree project is a partnership through the Museum of Modern Art, which brings art discussion and studio activities to the Center weekly.   Passionate about art and teaching since very young, Amanda enjoys opening up discussion and creativity in others, as it inspires her in her own artistic pursuits.