Tonnalee M. Batchelor
Over three and a half decades have passed since Tonnalee Batchelor took on the role and responsibility of being an adult educator. Tonnalee’s career has been dedicated to counseling and keeping a finger on the pulse of change. A strong supporter of the Buffalo community, Tonnalee's dedication to professional and community work has not gone unnoticed: She has received numerous prestigious awards for her career performance and community service; a partial list includes AARP National Generations for Change Award, 2006 Citizen of Distinction Award from the City of Buffalo- Mayor Byron Brown, Distinguished Service from the State University of New York at Buffalo's Educational Opportunity Center (1997-1998), and nomination for the University at Buffalo Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Services (1998 -1999). By 2006, Tonnalee keenly observed a number of common obstacles blocking the path back into the workforce for retirees, so she designed the Career/ Life Transitions Series at the University at Buffalo, Division of Continuing and Professional Studies. The program empowered retirees seeking a meaningful second career, as well as post graduates looking for a new career focus. The courses, materials, and resources gave participants the tools needed to discover latent talents and re-enter the workforce on their own terms. Ironically, Tonnalee’s personal life forced her at this time to take an early retirement to care for her ailing father.
Tonnalee swiftly became aware of the many inadequacies of the senior care system. All the way through to her father's final days, the Batchelor family experienced the gamut of professional and emotional roller coaster involved win caring for an aging and frail loved one: nursing homes, staffing in-home aides, respite care, exploitation, and downright thievery, not to mention finding shortcomings of paid medical care. Tonnalee need not employ her keen observation skills in this environment. It was apparent to her that the current state of affairs in senior care is a looming detriment to our communal progression.
As a result, TBatchelor Geriatric Advisory Group was formed in 2011, and grew the Preserving Our Legacies radio program and public forums. These are the collaborative work of Tonnalee Batchelor and daughter, Tuona Batchelor - urban planner and community development specialist. The series is designed to encourage candid and true conversations that negate judgment, to promote creative solutions to common problems and sharing of resources. The aim is to shed new light on the issues and generate new energy around implementing real solutions. With Tonnalee leading the way, the Preserving Our Legacies forum and radio program are trailblazing a better pathway into aging.