Meet the Polisher Research Institute Staff

The research staff at the Abramson Center for Jewish Life’s Polisher Research Institute is a dedicated group of individuals working to advance the field of senior care and improve the quality of life for the elderly. You can learn more about this terrific team below.

  • Kimberly Van Haitsma, Ph.D.

    Kimberly Van Haitsma, Ph.D.

    Director of Harry Stern Family Center
    Email: KVanHaitsma@abramsoncenter.org
    Telephone: 215-371-1895
    Fax: 215-371-3015

    Kimberly Van Haitsma, Ph.D. is a Clinical Health Psychologist with a specialization in geriatrics. Her research focuses on issues relevant to quality of life and quality of care for persons with dementia. Her body of work includes outcome evaluation of psychosocial interventions and staff training programs, measurement development in the areas of observed emotion and psychosocial preferences, methodological development in the use of innovative observational technologies and protocols. Dr. Van Haitsma is also the Director of the Harry Stern Center for Innovations in Alzheimer's Care, which is dedicated to the development of clinical application products such as psychosocial intervention programs, staff training manuals and staff training videotapes. She has recently been involved in developing a new person-centered care goal with Advancing Excellence. Her curriculum vitae is available.

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  • Morton Kleban, Ph.D.

    Morton Kleban, Ph.D.

    Director of Psychometrics
    Email: MKleban@abramsoncenter.org
    Telephone: 215-371-1891
    Fax: 215-371-3015

    Morton Kleban, Ph.D. has been at Polisher Research Institute as a Research Scientist for over 45 years. He has functioned primarily as a statistician on a variety of different projects, and has been a PI and Co-PI on many of them. He has had the privilege of working with outstanding social scientists at the Institute, including Elaine Brody, M. Powell Lawton, and Samuel Granick, to mention a few. He has participated in a variety of projects, varying from the biochemistry of behavior in aged animals, with the biochemists Henry Altshculer and Martin Gold, through many types of human aging studies in social and environmental gerontology. He is a member and Fellow of the Gerontological Society, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and is a member of the American Statistical Association. He is expert in research design and in univariate and multivariate statistics. In structural equations, he has used Lisrel, EQS, and AMOS, but currently he has concentrated on AMOS and has taken several courses of training from its creator, James L. Arbuckle. Structural equations have been an important aspect of his current statistical work. He has over 100 professional publications, and has presented more than that number at scientific meetings. Dr. Kleban has been named a "Highly Cited Researcher (SM)" by Thomson Scientific.

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  • Susanne Morganstein, M.S.

    Susanne Morganstein, M.S

    Grants and IRB Administrator
    Email:SMorganstein@abramsoncenter.org
    Telephone: 215-371-1861
    Fax: 215-371-3009

    Susanne Morganstein joined the Polisher Research Institute in August 2008 as the Grants/IRB Administrator.  She represents the Institute as the single point of contact for all proposal and grant management issues. Her responsibilities include: pre and post-award management for all grants and contracts, managing the project accounting infrastructure, policy and procedure development, monitoring institutional compliance, and serving as the IRB Administrator.

    Susanne has been working in the Grants Administration field for over ten years and is currently a member of the Society of Research Administrators International (SRA) and Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R).

    In addition to her role as the Grants Administrator, Susanne built the Person Centered Care Tracking tool in Excel that will be available for nursing homes across the country to use on the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes web site.

    Susanne received her Master of Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY.

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  • Allison Reamy Heid, Ph.D.

    Allison Reamy Heid, Ph.D.

    Post Doctoral Fellow
    Email: AReamy@abramsoncenter.org  
    Telephone: 215-371-1873

    Allison Reamy Heid, Ph.D., is currently serving as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Polisher Research Institute.  She completed her degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus on Adult Development and Aging and Intervention Science at The Pennsylvania State University.  Her research interests are broadly focused on understanding how to provide ethical care in tune with older adults’ values and preferences.  Her recent work has examined the values and preferences of individuals with mild to moderate dementia and the understanding of their values by family caregivers.  Her dissertation specifically examined the influence older adults have in family care and how/if older adults are perceived to insist, persist, or resist in care (i.e., act in a way commonly attributed to ‘stubbornness’) to understand the implications of such behaviors on well-being and support.

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  • Mary Van Valkenburgh

    Mary Van Valkenburgh

    Assistant Director of Information Technology at the Abramson Center
    Email: MVV@abramsoncenter.org​
    Telephone: 215-371-1837

    Mary Van Valkenburgh, is the Assistant Director of Information Technology. With more than 20 years of experience in Information Technology, Ms. Van Valkenburgh is experienced in the analysis, design, development and implementation of information technology programs, policies and procedures. Her career has been dedicated to providing complex IT services to both non-profit and corporate sector organizations. 


    She has been with the Abramson Center for Jewish Life since 2001.  Her focus has been on implementing healthcare information technology strategies and solutions that improve quality of care and enhance care coordination.  Ms. Van Valkenburgh also works with the Polisher Research Institute providing strategic planning and implementation of their gerontology research IT initiatives.

    Ms. Van Valkenburgh holds an ABA in Accounting and is a member of the Society for Information Management.

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  • Carol Irvine, M.A.

    Carol Irvine

    President and Chief Executive Officer of the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life & Polisher Research Institute

    Carol Irvine, M.A. is president and chief executive officer of the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life, a nonprofit provider of care to seniors throughout Greater Philadelphia. Ms. Irvine is responsible for the Abramson Center for Jewish Life’s $53 million budget and more than 650 employees. Since becoming president and CEO in 2008, she has initiated a strategic planning process that has positioned the Abramson Center to be a leader in the future of senior care delivery. Her plan has expanded the Center’s services through a number of community-based programs, including hospice, home care, short stay rehab, renal dialysis, medical adult day services, geriatric care management, and a free 24/7 telephonic information and referral service, that enable older adults to age in place in their own homes. The implementation of these programs has increased the number of individuals served by the Center from 700 to over 4,000. During Ms. Irvine’s tenure, continuing advances in quality improvement led to a five-star rating of the Abramson Residence for skilled care by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Over the past six years, the Center has grown its revenue by more than 40 percent.

    Prior to joining the Abramson Center for Jewish Life, Ms. Irvine worked for over 20 years at the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in a variety of leadership capacities.

    Ms. Irvine holds a master’s degree in Gerontology from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in English from Muhlenberg College.

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