By Dot Bergin
Within a few minutes of chatting with Alison Cservenschi, newly appointed Director of the Council on Aging, it’s easy to see how her background, experience, and easy-going personality make her an excellent fit for the job.
Add to that a ready smile, and the trace of a lilting British accent and Bedford has a winner.
Although she’s only been in her position since April 27, Alison looks perfectly at home in her office. At the moment, her focus is on getting to know the seniors who regularly come to the COA. She acknowledges that she’s stepping into a well-functioning organization, with a dedicated staff, and a wealth of interesting programs. For the time being, as she settles in to her new position, she isn’t planning any major changes. But one of her goals is to broaden the outreach to an even larger group of Bedfordites, those “young” seniors who may not yet be taking advantage of all the COA has to offer. Several programs are now being offered in the evening, to attract people between 60 and 70 years, who may still be working and not able to take part in daytime activities. One very successful program is the “Single Again” group (for those recently widowed or divorced.) Alison hopes to build on these strengths, to bring in more of Bedford’s approximately 3300 “60 plus” residents, currently about a quarter of the town’s population. Click Town Report – 2014 and read the CoA report on page 66 in the PDF of the 2014 Annual Town Report
For now, it’s “getting to know you” and finding her way around Bedford. When the Citizen spoke with her, Alison was looking forward to a tour of the town, personally conducted by Assistant Town Manager Jessica Porter.
Alison is a native of Halesowen, a town about seven miles from the city of Birmingham, England. Naturally, a first question to her was “how did you find your way to this country.” And the answer indicates her willingness to try new experiences. During her university years in England, she learned of Camp America, an organization that places international counselors in American camps. And that is how she came to New Jersey, where she eventually spent five summers as a counselor and music director (she plays piano), and one winter session as a respite program coordinator. And here it was that she met her husband, Razvan (Raz) who also worked at the camp. In 2000, Alison received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Northampton in the U.K.
Her work background is equally diverse: She has 14 years’ healthcare experience working with seniors, most recently as traditional care director and acting executive director at Waltham Crossings, a Benchmark Senior Living facility. Before that, she worked for nine years at the Cambridge Health Alliance, where she managed a “PACE” (Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly,) center for elders. PACE is a national comprehensive health program created to help elders remain at home as long as possible. Thus, she brings to her new job clinical, residential, and programs expertise.
Alison and Raz live in West Woburn, with their two children, a boy, who is five, and a girl, seven years old.