Dementia Care Education & Consulting from Beatitudes Campus

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Comfort Matters is a dementia care education and research program dedicated to improving the quality of care and life for people with dementia.

Dedicated team and faculty

The Comfort Matters team is comprised of dedicated professionals who are nationally acclaimed experts in their fields. They are assisted by dozens of Beatitudes Campus staff members from interdisciplinary care teams, who bring unique experiences to the program.


Tena R. M. Alonzo, MA
Director, Education & Research, Comfort Matters

Ms. Alonzo has spent the past several decades enhancing the lives of persons with dementia. Her work has appeared in The Gerontologist, Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing, Arizona Geriatrics Society Journal, Annals of Long Term Care, The NY Times, The Boston Globe and The Global Mail. Ms. Alonzo speaks nationally on evidence-based caregiving practices for people with dementia. Under her leadership, Beatitudes Campus received the 2010 Excellence in Research and Education Award from LeadingAge (formerly American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging), the 2012 Award of Honor from LeadingAge Arizona, the 2012 Promising Practices Award from Matherlifeways, and the 2013 Public Trust Award from LeadingAge. Ms. Alonzo holds bachelor of science and master of arts degrees in psychology from Northern Arizona University.

Sheri R. Brown
Videographer, Comfort Matters

Ms. Brown has been telling truth-through-story in video form for nearly 40 years. She is also a special education teacher and a liturgical writer who believes that truth-through-story is found wherever people create communities that value and uphold human dignity.

Maribeth Gallagher, DNP, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
Dementia Program Director, Hospice of the Valley

Dr. Gallagher’s work with Hospice of the Valley focuses on optimizing quality of life for persons with advanced dementia. Dr. Gallagher has been a featured guest speaker at both national and international conferences and has published in several professional journals. She received first place in the non-cancer category at the 2012 International Journal of Palliative Nursing Awards in London for her work with Hospice of the Valley’s dementia program. The Visiting Nurse Associations of America honored her with the 2012 Program Manager of the Year Award.  In addition, Dr. Gallagher has been a family caregiver, sharing the journey with a family member with dementia from diagnosis to death.

Ivan Hilton, MHA, FACHE
Director of Business Development, Comfort Matters

Mr. Hilton has worked more than 40 years in the health care industry. For 30 plus years he was an administrator in acute care hospitals, most recently serving as Vice President of Ancillary and Clinical Support Services for the John C. Lincoln Healthcare Network in Phoenix, Arizona. For the past 15 years he worked in health care real estate development and construction. Mr. Hilton has a master’s degree in hospital administration and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Karen Mitchell, RN, BSN
Nurse Educator, Comfort Matters

Ms. Mitchell is a registered nurse and educator who has spent the past four decades improving quality of life for both older adults in a long term heath care setting and their families.  In her career she has served as a nursing assistant, charge nurse, nursing instructor, nursing supervisor, assistant director and director of nursing. Ms. Mitchell joined the staff at Beatitudes Campus in 1983 and since then has been a driving force in the development and implementation of evidence-based, best practices health care.  Her work has been published in the New York Times, the New Yorker Magazine and the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing.  Ms. Mitchell received her RN from Maria College in Albany, New York and her BSN from the University of Phoenix.

Evelyn J. Sowell, EdD
Professor of Education Emerita, Arizona State University West
Research Associate and Principal Writer, Comfort Matters

Dr. Sowell is a lifelong learner, teacher and writer. She has led and been part of curriculum development groups for university teacher education programs, public school mathematics programs and church school education programs. Thereafter, she was frequently one who implemented these curricula with students whether they were in elementary school, undergraduates, or graduates. Her published work appears in multiple journal reports, book chapters and textbooks on curriculum and research methodology.

Linda Travis, PsyD
Educator, Comfort Matters

Dr. Travis is a licensed psychologist in Arizona. As an educator in the health and behavioral health fields, Dr. Travis applies the principles of interdisciplinary team work, biopsychosocial models, and cultural diversity as key considerations in evidence-based care for older adults. Additionally, she is committed to the ongoing training and development of the eldercare workforce. Her scholarly activities include publications in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Aging and Mental Health, and the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Geropsychology: International Perspectives. Dr. Travis particularly enjoys working with older adults and their family members to navigate a wide variety of life and health transitions. She also enjoys assisting organizations in achieving success with both planned and unplanned changes in programs, staffing and operations.

Vermilion Cliffs Interdisciplinary Team
The interdisciplinary team at Vermilion Cliffs, (care center for people with moderate to advanced dementia at Beatitudes Campus) is uniquely experienced in all facets of the Comfort Matters program. Members of this team frequently help educate peers from other organizations involved in onsite education at Beatitudes Campus. Based on their own experiences, team members aid their peers as they seek to embed new concepts into practice.