It’s only fitting that we launch the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging’s new website by commemorating our remarkable and beloved founder Dr. Rose Dobrof, who died last October, a month shy of her 91st birthday. A pioneer in social gerontology and gerontological social work, Rose established a substantial and enduring legacy for older adults and the field of aging.
Rose Dobrof was a tireless, gifted, and transformative leader, whose lifelong commitment to older adults and their caregivers was fueled by intellectual curiosity, unwavering optimism, and extraordinary generativity. Her work was grounded in social work’s core values of service, individual dignity and self-worth, the centrality of human relationships, and commitment to social justice. She promoted a multidisciplinary approach to aging, drawing on the combined expertise of physicians, social workers, nurses, attorneys, policy analysts, public health researchers, and community organizers to better identify and meet the complex, bio-psychosocial needs of older adults and their families.
In 1974, Rose obtained seed funding to open a center at Hunter College that would advance awareness of aging and prepare the next generation of researchers, advocates, and practitioners for working with older adults and their caregivers. The then-named Brookdale Center on Aging was one of the nation’s first academic aging centers, setting a high bar of excellence for a generation of centers, programs, and policies for older adults that followed. Rose went on to direct Brookdale for 20 years, and helped create and guide the implementation of programs and services throughout NYC. Along the way, she married Alfred Dobrof, her husband and partner of 26 years, and raised four impressive daughters who have each, in her own way, carried on Rose’s legacy. In addition to her accomplished career as a scholar and change-agent, Rose mentored generations of students and professionals in the field, and was widely loved and admired.
Forty-two years after we opened our doors, the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging continues to promote the health and well-being of older adults and their caregivers through cutting-edge research, a continuum of training and educational programs for aging services workers and supervisors, and advocacy regarding elder justice and public policy specifically focused on vulnerable older adults. The faculty and staff at Brookdale is proud to continue Rose Dobrof’s legacy as we work to light the way for the next generation of aging adults, caregivers, workers, researchers, policy makers and advocates. Those of us who had the privilege to know and work with Rose miss her every day, but we know she would be proud of the work we do and her spirit lives on in the work of all who work to improve the lives of older adults.