The ACTPlan Team

ACTPlan is the result of over 25 years of research led by its founder, Dr. Gloria J. Bonner. The current team has collaborated in this and other culturally-informed public health interventions for overcoming health disparities in underserved populations. They bring wide experience in hospital and community health care settings, caregiver advocacy, church health ministry, and military family health from a woman’s and Afro-centric perspective.

Gloria J Bonner, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dr. Bonner is Founder and Director of the ACTPlan Program, and President of Bonner-Platt and Associates, LLC. An Assistant Professor, Emerita at University of Illinois-Chicago College of Nursing, she initiated and developed the ACTPlan dementia caregiver education program and led numerous research projects sponsored by the National Institutes of Health addressing dementia care and health disparities.

Yashika Watkins, PhD, MPH

Dr. Watkins is a Professor of Public Health at Chicago State University, where she teaches in the areas of community health, health disparities, underserved populations, and caregiving. She worked closely with Dr. Bonner in the initial development and evaluation of the ACTPlan Program through prior NIH-sponsored research and now serves as a consultant to the Program.

Dr. Yashika Watkins
Dr. Alysha Hart

Alysha S. Hart, PhD, APRN, FNP-C
Alysha S Hart, PhD, APRN, FNP-C

Dr. Hart is Adjunct Professor at Florida A&M University and former Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Population Health Nursing Science, University of Illinois-Chicago College of Nursing. She has had extensive experience as a nurse practitioner working in the field of dementia care, and functioned as a Graduate Research Assistant in the ACTPlan program mentored by Dr. Bonner. She now serves as an instructor in the Program.

Rita Tharpe, PsyD, MSHS, BBA, RN

Ms. Tharpe is a Certified Clinical Research Nurse who worked at Rush University Medical Center for 22 years. She has over 30 years of experience in clinical research, working in multiple disciplines, including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. She served as the former Project Manager for the implementation of the ACTPlan Program.

RN. Rita Tharpe

Neelum T Aggarwal, MD, FAMWA

Dr. Aggarwal is a cognitive neurologist and professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences and the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center. She serves as the Site Principal Investigator/Co Investigator for NIH-funded clinical trials in aging and is the examining field neurologist for multiple community based studies in Chicago’s racial and ethnic diverse communities. She serves as a content expert for the ACTPlan Program.

Geraldine Peacock, RN, MBA, EdD

Dr. Peacock, a Critical Care Nurse, worked at Rush University Medical Center for forty-five years. She currently serves as a Lay Minister, a member of the Women’s Ministry, and Co-Leader of the Health Professions Ministry at the Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago. She serves as a consultant to the ACTPlan Program, and is also a retired Major (US Army) who received numerous awards for her service as a combat nurse.

Dr. Geraldine Peacock
Sally Freels

Sally Freels, PhD

Dr. Sally Freels earned her PhD in Statistics from Northwestern University and was a full time faculty member at University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, for 30 years. She is a teacher, consultant and collaborator with focus on basic biostatistics methods, multiple linear and logistic regression modeling, and survival analysis. She worked with Dr. Bonner on several her research projects throughout the years and currently serves on the ACTPlan project. Currently she holds a part time appointment as Associate Professor Emeritus.

Osei Bekoe, MPH

Mr. Bekoe is currently a Research Specialist at the University of Illinois Cancer Center and a member of the Illinois Cancer Health Equity Research (I-CHER) team. He is a graduate of the Master of Public Health Program at Chicago State University and works closely with Dr. Bonner and Dr. Watkins as a Research Assistant with the ACT Plan Program.

Osei Bekoe