Jennifer Carson, Ph.D.

Director, Dementia Engagement, Education and Research Program
Headshot of Jennifer Carson


Dr. Jennifer Carson works to envision and develop opportunities for individual and collective growth to combat ageism and ableism, and improve the inclusion and well-being of elders, with a particular interest in persons living with dementia. Jennifer is Director of the Dementia Engagement, Education and Research (DEER) Program in the School of Public Helathat the University of Nevada, Reno.

To this role, Dr. Carson brings a commitment to service, collaboration and innovation built upon more than 30 years of practical experience in the fields of long-term care and aging services. Dr. Carson currently spends much of her time working with tribal, rural and urban communities across the state as Project Director of the Dementia Friendly Nevada initiative, sponsored by the State of Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division, and teaching professional and family care partners as the author and facilitator of Bravo Zulu: Achieving Excellence in Relationship-Centered Care, a comprehensive, 12-hour dementia education program developed in partnership with the Nevada Department of Veterans Services.

Dr. Carson also partners with the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine’s Sanford Center for Aging on a U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program grant. Her role is to provide a comprehensive education for care partners of persons living with dementia and to conduct statewide outreach for the Improving Care of Elders through Community and Academic Partnerships (ICECAP Nevada) initiative, which includes inter-professional geriatrics and dementia care training for primary care providers, health professions students, long-term care professionals, and family care partners.

Dr. Carson recently completed a North American tour as a co-creator and cast member of Disrupt Dementia, part of Dr. Bill Thomas’ international Changing Aging Tour. With a strong commitment to partnerships and participatory approaches to research and practice, Dr. Carson's career and scholarship encompass gerontology, dementia, long-term care, culture change, and leisure and aging. Her educational background includes a BA in Therapeutic Recreation from Eastern Washington University (1998); a MS in Therapeutic Recreation from Clemson University (2003); and a PhD in Recreation and Leisure Studies: Aging, Health and Well-Being Program from the University of Waterloo (2015).

Selected publications


  • Reed, P., Carson, J., & Gibb, Z. (2017). Transcending the tragedy discourse of dementia: An ethical imperative for promoting selfhood, meaningful relationships, and well-being. AMA Journal of Ethics, 19(7), 693-703.
  • Dupuis, S.L., Whyte, C., & Carson, J. (2017). Aligning therapeutic recreation with culture change values. In J.J. Bannon (Ed.), Problem Solving in Recreation and Parks (147-151). Champaign, IL: Sagamore Publishing.


  • Carson, J., Brown, S., d'Avernas, J., Dunn, H. (2015). Working Together to Put LIVING First: A Guidebook to Change the Culture of Aging in Long-Term Care. Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging Publication.
  • Dupuis, S.L., Mitchell, G., Jonas-Simpson, C., Whyte, C., Gillies, J., & Carson, J. 2015. Igniting transformative change in dementia care through research-based drama. Gerontologist, 1–11, doi:10.1093/geront/gnv062.


  • Dupuis, S.L., Whyte, C., Carson, J., Genoe, R., Meschino. L.M., & Sadler, L. 2012. Just dance with me: An authentic partnership approach in understanding leisure in the dementia context. World Leisure Journal on Leisure, Health, and Disability. 54(3), 240-254.
  • Dupuis, S.L., Gillies, J., Carson, J., Whyte, C., Genoe, R., Loiselle, L., & Sadler, L. 2012. Moving beyond patient and client approaches: Mobilizing authentic partnerships in dementia care. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice, 11(4), 428-450.
  • Jonas-Simpson, C., Mitchell, G., Carson, J., Whyte, C., Dupuis, S.L., & Gillies. J. 2012. Phenomenological shifts for healthcare professionals after experiencing a research-based drama on living with dementia. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68(9), 1944-1955.
  • Carson, J. & d’Avernas, J. 2012. Working together to put living first: Appreciative culture change in long-term care. Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner: Special Video Issue, 14(5) 13-14.


  • Dupuis, S.L., Gillies, J., Mitchell, G., Jonas-Simpson, C., Whyte, C., & Carson, J. 2011. Catapulting shifts in images, understandings and actions for family members through research-based drama. Family Relations, 60, 104-120.
  • Dupuis, S.L., Whyte, C., & Carson, J. 2011. Leisure in long-term care settings. In H. Gibson & J. Singleton (Eds.), Leisure and Aging: Theory and Practice (217-237). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  • Mitchell, G., Dupuis, S.L., Jonas-Simpson, C., Whyte, C., Carson, J., & Gillies, J. 2011. The experience of engaging with research-based drama: Evaluation and explication of synergy and transformation. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(4) 379-392.


  • Battisto, D., Carson, J.D., Conti, A., Parks, A., & Voelkl, J.E. 2005. Perceptions of public areas in long-term care environments: Activity spaces or therapeutic places. Annual in Therapeutic Recreation, 14, 85-97.


  • Voelkl, J.E., Battisto, D., Carson, J.D., & McGuire, F.A. 2004. A family model of care: Supporting nursing home residents’ continued growth and development. World Leisure Journal, 46(3), 18-29.
  • Voelkl, J.E. & Carson, J.D. 2004. Disability and leisure lifestyles. In G. Cross (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in America. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons Reference Books.


  • PhD in Recreation and Leisure Studies (Aging, Health and Well-Being), University of Waterloo
  • MS in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (Therapeutic Recreation), Clemson University
  • BA in Physical Education, Health and Recreation (Therapeutic Recreation), Eastern Washington University