Gina Upchurch, RPh, MPH, Founder & Executive Director
Gina was born in Durham and raised in Reidsville, N.C. She earned her Bachelor of Science in pharmacy and her master’s degree in public health at UNC-Chapel Hill. She also completed a residency in geriatric pharmacy practice at UNC-CH. She remains as adjunct faculty with both schools. Between degrees, she served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer teaching science in Botswana. As part of her MPH program, Gina’s summer project in 1992 was to conduct a needs assessment for a “free pharmacy” for older adults with support of the Durham County Hospital Corporation and the Council for Senior Citizens. She interviewed social service providers, healthcare providers, caregivers and seniors. Two issues emerged from her research:
- Many people were struggling to pay for their medicines and needed help.
- And, equally concerning, some of the medicines seniors were taking were contributing to their health problems.
Gina used information from the project as the basis for her master’s paper and an abbreviated version was published in the North Carolina Medical Journal. A month later—with the aid of the Duke Endowment and support from other foundations—Senior PharmAssist opened its doors to the Durham community on June 23, 1994.
In 2001, Gina was named a Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader and the following year received the Bowl of Hygeia Award for Community Service. In 2005, she earned the Eunice Tyler Award for Excellence in Public Health Education from the UNC-CH School of Public Health, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, and in 2006 won the Don Blanton Award for Outstanding Contributions to Pharmacy from the N.C. Association of Pharmacists and the Elna B. Spaulding Founder’s Award for making a significant difference in the Durham community. In 2008, Gina received the Power of Prevention Award from the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission for her advocacy and public policy efforts, and in 2009 earned the Jim Long Outstanding SHIIP Service Award from the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program and the AARP North Carolina Advocacy Award.
Viki Baker, Associate Director
Viki joined the Senior PharmAssist staff in July 2015. She came to us after nearly 18 years with Meals on Wheels of Wake County, where she served in several capacities—including associate director—from 2006 through this year. Viki brings a wealth of management skills to her role with Senior PharmAssist and is well-acquainted with the needs of senior adults. She holds a Bachelor of Science from East Carolina University’s Family and Community Services School of Human Ecology.
Joe Daly, Development & Communications Director
Joe joined the Senior PharmAssist staff in October 2000. He graduated from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and had previously worked in the Development Office at William Peace University in Raleigh. Joe is principally responsible for coordinating and implementing our fundraising efforts; however, since it’s a “small shop,” he gets to do a little bit of everything. He even sees participants from time to time—but only to take their pictures for our e-news and printed newsletter!
Ida Daniels, Administrative Assistant
Next to our executive director, Ida is our longest-serving staff member. She joined us as a part-time receptionist in 1999, through the auspices of the Senior Aides Program. When that program could no longer fund Ida’s position with Senior PharmAssist, we officially hired her to serve as part-time administrative assistant. Ida is a lifetime Durham resident, and her connections to the community, warm familiarity with our participants and professional skills help keep the office running smoothly.
Marilyn Disco, PharmD, CGP, Clinical Services Director
Marilyn graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and completed two post-graduate residencies before working for two years as a clinical pharmacist at a community health center. She is a certified geriatric pharmacist and joined the Senior PharmAssist staff in May 2003. As clinical services director, she coordinates the pharmaceutical care services provided by our program, ensuring that the participants, caregivers and healthcare providers we work with are well-served.
Katie Huffman, MA, CCM, Community Services Director
Katie has a master’s in gerontology from Appalachian State University and held multiple positions at Carolina Meadows Retirement Community. More recently, she served as a health education specialist for a clergy health initiative at Duke Divinity School. Katie oversees our Medicare insurance counseling, coordinates volunteers and provides care management to participants and caregivers.
Rhonda Mack-Minnifield, MA, Health Resources Coordinator
Rhonda also joined our staff in 2013 and earned her Master of Arts in Health Education and Promotion from East Carolina University. She has focused on health literacy in several of her past jobs and since 2012 has served as community health educator and facilitator with the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services. Rhonda is a lifelong Durham resident and helps Senior PharmAssist ensure that our community referrals are working well.
Jessica Visco, PharmD, CGP, Clinical Pharmacist
Jessica earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2001. She then completed a one-year specialty residency in geriatrics at the UNC Geriatric Evaluation Clinic, where she stayed on as the clinical pharmacist until January 2005. Jessica joined our staff in February of that year and is also a certified geriatric pharmacist. She works 20 hours per week.