Our Team




(Executive Director / FounderMichael Rossato-Bennett is the Writer, Director, and Producer of 'ALIVE INSIDE' – winner of the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for U.S. Documentary – and Founder of The Alive Inside Foundation.   An Architect of Change, he believes we live in a time where great human change is possible. His films aim to help us all be more Alive Inside. In addition to 'ALIVE INSIDE', Rossato-Bennett is producing two documentaries, "Alive Inside Together,"  "Being Here” and two features. With the team he works on new tech designed to increase human connection and reduce loneliness. 
Here is Michael's TED Talk, explaining the journey of making, "Alive Inside."



(Director of Community Relations) Maisie Shannon-Bowe has always been drawn to seniors. In 2014, Maisie watched 'ALIVE INSIDE' and was so inspired she left a lucrative New England Regional Position in Insurance to start her journey in Senior Living. For the last eight years, she has held management roles in senior living communities, including Memory Care and home care agencies. Maisie is inspired to make profound changes in the industry and the lives of our elder population. Maisie is spearheading the Alive Inside Thrive Certification program, and the Thrive Center Development along with Christine Tucker-Elder. She works closely with Michael on the follow-up film and the Foundation. This journey is personal for her as her grandmother was afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and she does this work in her honor.



(Alive Inside Together Program) Tony Fisherwith Michael Rossato-Bennett, came up with the idea of using eldercare centers and elders as a teaching tool.  Tony spearheaded the Alive Inside Together pilot at Healdsburg Senior Living.  Starting with one private school the program eventually expanded to 13 schools, bringing 400-600 students into the center each month.  The students shared music and life with the elders, and everyone bloomed.  Teachers found freedom in using elders as an educational resource, the students found true purpose in changing elders' lives, and the institution bloomed financially and emotionally.  Michael and Tony were working on the follow-up film, 'ALIVE INSIDE TOGETHER,' a film they believed would transform eldercare and public schools nationwide.  They were 1/3 done when Covid hit, and their plans were rendered impossible.  Michael and Tony are working to restart the program.  Presently, Tony consults with elder care and runs a family business in Alaska.  



(Alive Inside Together Program Development). Daniel Bauer is currently the Regional Director of Sales (The West Region) at Frontier Management, the Nation’s third-largest provider of Senior Living Communities. Daniel holds a Master's in Family Life Education and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Gerontology. He has been working in Memory Care for years, starting at the Alive Inside Foundation. There he partnered with Michael Rossato-Bennett and created the “Adopt A Soul” project to awaken memory, purpose, and joy. Daniel enjoys counseling families; he understands their journey having lost a parent to Alzheimer’s.



(Partnership Development)  Itaal Shur, an American composer, producer and musician has written songs for Maxwell, Jewel, and Enrique Iglesias, and released three solo albums. Shur's song "Smooth", co-written with Rob Thomas for Santana's album Supernatural, reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Shur and Thomas the Grammy Award for Song of the Year. Shur is in charge of expanding Alive Inside's partnerships in the Music and Tech industries.


(Strategy and Development). Matthew K. Cross is Founder and CEO of LeadershipAlliance.com, and provides breakthrough strategies for growth, genius and transformation. The world’s leading Priority Strategist, Hoshin NorthStar specialist, and a Deming Quality Scholar, Matthew consults with Fortune 100’s worldwide. He learned of the Golden Ratio at 13, which evolved into his pioneering work in Biomimicry Medicine and its integration into his athletic, business and life performance trainings. Matthew’s books include The Golden Ratio & Fibonacci Sequence and Nature’s Secret Nutrient with Robert D. Friedman, M.D., and The Hoshin North Star Playbook and The Millionaire’s MAP. An ancient wisdom explorer and athlete, he champions everyone’s unique genius.


(Dementia Trainer) Fran Pannella has worked for over 20 years in geriatric nursing, eldercare, advocacy, and dementia education. She is passionate about the idea that there can still be Joy in Life after a diagnosis of dementia and is dedicated to finding and sharing positive ways to reduce stigma and support those living with dementia. She manages an Alive Inside inspired, Inter-generational program called Connection Thru Music that she created while at Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey. She is a past Associate Director at Alzheimer's Association Greater NJ Chapter.

Fran is dedicated to spreading the mission of the Alive Inside Foundation and is working with other NJ non-profits and youth groups to share the power of music and connection. She is a Certified Dementia Care Practitioner, ASFA – Senior Personal Trainer & LTC Fitness Leader and Brain Fitness Facilitator, and a recipient of the Memory Bridge graduate. She developed and offers Movement~Music~Memories exercise and enrichment programs to individuals with dementia.


(Director of Special Projects [Former Co-Director]) Rob Vickery is a start-up expert with technical aptitude and a deep understanding of strategy, tactics, and innovation. He says, "Alive Inside" gave me the best moment with my Mom in her last 10 years.'  Rob still has her music player.  Rob is dedicated to making life better for elders like his mother.



(Higher Education Director) Bernadette González Orta is a Certified Clinical Psychologist, Private Psychotherapist, and Psychoanalyst. She teaches Psychology at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.  She plays piano and comes from a musical family (her grandfather was an orchestra conductor, writer, and composer).  

She has written and presented on music’s link to psychology: “Psychology Foundation of Music,” “Between Music and Psychoanalysis”, and “The power of Music: Intimidation vs Intimacy”.  Inspired by Alive inside, Bernadette, along with other professionals, founded Córimaz, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of elders in different conditions and promoting bonds between generations. Córimaz uses music, life stories, and other resources to improve the quality of life of young and old.



(Facilitators Director) Charles "Chip" Staley directs the Wind Symphony at the Merit School of Music in Chicago and is the Founder and President of ARTSpeaks, a non-profit arts advocacy organization.  Staley teaches graduate coursework at the VanderCook College of Music and co-directs the Birch Creek Adult Band Camp. Staley conducts the Wind Symphony at the Merit School of Music in Chicago and facilitates the "Alive Inside" Outreach program in Naperville. Staley serves as an Educational Clinician for Conn-Selmer, Inc. and teaches graduate classes for VanderCook College of Music.



(Development) Bob Gallagher is the founder/managing member of Integrated Marketing Group. As an entrepreneur, Bob has multi-industry experience in entertainment promotions, asset recovery, and marketing services. Bob and his team are committed to making a positive impact on seniors in isolation due to being shut-in, especially those diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. His mission is to continually search for opportunities to improve senior’s lives through Alive Inside’s offerings, and with a plan that is altruistic and scalable. 



(Strategy, Production and Development) Stylianos Makridis was an International executive and entrepreneur. He held senior roles and built successful ventures for Fortune 500 companies. When not working on a complex business challenge he enjoyed building impromptu photographic narratives. He held a BSc. In Economics and Marketing from Athens University of Economics and Business(AUEB), an MBA from Cardiff Business School(CARBS), and a Masters in Design(MDes) from the Institute of Design(ID) in Chicago. Stylianos worked for Amazon and was helping Produce and Write 'Alive Inside Together'






(Chairman) Robert Leon is the Chairman of the board of AIF.  Robert oversees the strategy, finance, and operations of AIF.

As Senior Vice President of Structure Tone’s Global Services, Rob is responsible for the management of top national accounts and international client relationships. Rob also acts as a brand manager by coordinating the market strategy for Global Services and provides leadership, not only among sectors but across geographic regions to bring the global strength of Structure Tone together with local experience to each client and project in the United States and abroad.

Rob introduced green building to Structure Tone, launching the firm’s industry-leading sustainability program. He also paved the way to solidify a partnership with Delos, founder of the WELL Building Standard. Combining individual health and well-being with environmental sustainability, the WELL Building Standard focuses on human sustainability within a space. Rob’s strategic planning helped Structure Tone’s New York headquarters become the first WELL Certified project in the city.

Rob was co-chair of the Construction Committee for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn’s Green Codes Task Force to help green the laws and regulations that govern construction in the city. As co-chair of the committee, Rob worked with other industry professionals to review the city’s construction codes and identify impediments to green building and propose additions that will encourage green practices in the marketplace.

Rob is an engaged leader, both within Structure Tone and in the community. To help cultivate Structure Tone’s next generation of thought leaders, Rob established the firm’s Emerging Leaders program giving future leaders the opportunity to see deeper into the culture of the organization, participate in workshops for their development as managers and initiate evolution and change within the organization and the wider industry.

Outside of Structure Tone, Rob was a founding member of the Fifth Street Farm. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to creating a rooftop farm and providing a living classroom for teaching science, math and humanities. This organization gives students and teachers the opportunity to integrate urban agriculture and sustainability into the classroom, offering hands-on education in food awareness and environmental sustainability.



Eric Bertrand is the CEO of Eyeball Digital and a Partner of Eyeball (www.eyeballnyc.com). Eric's focus at Eyeball has been on strategy, finance, and operations as well as launching the digital advertising group.

Prior to eyeball, Eric was a PE/VC fund manager. In 2005, he founded and managed EJB Capital, a strategic advisory firm, which Greystone & Company hired in 2007 to lead their private equity effort. Prior to founding EJB Capital, Eric was a General Partner with Palisade Capital Management, where he jointly managed a private equity fund and venture capital funds. Eric began his private equity career with Aetna's Private Equity Group.

Eric holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurial Studies from New York University. He graduated from Bryant University with a BS in Business Administration concentrating on Finance and Applied Actuarial Mathematics. Eric is a board member of several privately held companies as well as Unite For Sight, an international eye care-related charity. Eric currently sits on the Bryant University Business School Board of Advisors, as well as the National Alumni Council. In addition, Eric is a mentor and judge for the annual New York University, Springboard, Junior Achievement, and Bryant University Business Plan Competitions.



(President) See above.


See above.


See above.


See above.


See above.


See above.




Dr. Bill Thomas is an author, entrepreneur, musician, teacher, farmer, and physician whose wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging. Best known for his health care system innovations, he is the founder of a global non-profit (The Eden Alternative) which works to improve the care provided to older people. He is the creator of The Green House® which Provider Magazine has called the “pinnacle of culture change.” Dr. Thomas also developed the Senior ER model of care and is now working to transform the acute care services provided to elders.
He is the author of “Second Wind: Navigating the Passage to a Slower, Deeper, and More Connected Life”, and has now embarked on a national tour to reimagine how Americans will approach aging in the 21st century. His synthesis of imagination and action led the Wall Street Journal to highlight Dr. Thomas as one of the nation’s “top 10 innovators” changing the future of retirement in America and US News and World Report to name him as one of “America’s best leaders.”



Robin Glazer is the Director of The Creative Center at University Settlement. Together with founders Geraldine Herbert and Adrianne Assail, Robin helped bring the idea that "medicine cures the body, but art heals the spirit" to fruition. Currently, The Creative Center offers a variety of programs including Hospital Artists-In-Residence, an Arts Workshop Program, a gallery site featuring the artwork of professional artists living with illness and a training program for artists and administrators.
Since 2006, Robin has been the director of The Creative Center and has broadened the scope of art services to include the aging spectrum- from well older adults to the frail elderly living with dementia disorders. In 2011, Robin initiated a merger with the University Settlement- the oldest settlement house in the US which provides social services and cultural experiences to New York City's underserved populations including new and recent immigrants- enabling The Creative Center to bring creative art experiences to vulnerable populations including older adults living with dementia disorders. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts, a consistent funder of training for artists and administrators in the fields of arts in health and in creative aging, selected The Creative Center as a "Best Practice Site". The Creative Center is delighted to be a two-time recipient of LIVESTRONG's Community Impact Project which has replicated the Artist-In-Residence Program in 22 hospitals across the US.



The world-renowned musician Samite Molundo was born and raised in Uganda, where he is one of East Africa's most acclaimed flutists. He performed frequently throughout Uganda until 1982 when he was forced to flee to Kenya as a political refugee. In 1987, Samite immigrated to the United States. Samite has released nine CDs internationally and composed film scores. In 2002, he founded Musicians for World Harmony, an organization dedicated to enabling musicians throughout the world to share their music to promote peace, understanding, and harmony among people. In that capacity, he travels to sing, play music, and exchange stories with victims of war, poverty, and HIV/AIDS. He has traveled extensively to the war-torn and distressed countries of Uganda, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Latvia, Liberia, and Cote d'Ivoire to work in refugee camps, with former child soldiers and AIDS orphans.



Dr. Linda Gerdner Ph.D., RN, FAAN of Stanford University School of Medicine was the first to develop and test the use of individualized music for the non-pharmacological management of agitation in persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The protocol has been tested by researchers and implemented by clinicians in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, France, Norway,  South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Dr. Gerdner’s evidence-based guideline was originally published in 1996 and is in its 5th edition. Dr. Gerdner lectures on music and dementia worldwide.








Glenn Hughes - Deep Purple

Rudy Sarzo - Ozzy Osbourne, Quiet Riot, etc.

Robert Sarzo - Hurricane

The Lumineers

Marcy Playground


The Jerry Garcia Foundation

Spirit of Harmony Foundation

Xeno Rasumusson - Musician/Gerontologist


get updates

Alive Inside Coalition