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Dr. Okun

In Memoriam: Gladys Gonzalez-Ramos 1954-2010: A Leader for Parkinson's Disease, Post Your Memories

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The Parkinson's disease community lost a true leader in Gladys Gonzalez-Ramos. We encourage you to post your memories and tributes on Ask the Doctor.


In Memoriam

Gladys González-Ramos, Ph.D.



The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) joins the Parkinson’s community in mourning the loss of Gladys González-Ramos, Ph.D., consultant to NPF for the past decade and a respected national leader in the Parkinson’s field, who died on December 22, 2010 after a long and valiant battle with cancer. A gifted teacher and mentor, she was Associate Professor of Social Work at the New York University Silver School of Social Work since 1985 where she received her MSW in 1977 and her Ph.D. in 1985. Gladys was also Adjunct Associate Professor of Neurology at the NYU School of Medicine.


Her leadership had a powerful impact, not only because she was the consummate professional, but because of the passion she brought to every moment of her work on behalf of Parkinson’s. This was coupled with her unique ability to discern the needs and connect with each person and situation she encountered. The following were but some of her significant contributions with the National Parkinson Foundation:

➢ She was co-founder and assistant director of NPF’s national signature Allied Team Training for Parkinson (ATTP) professional education program for interdisciplinary teams. As part of this program, she trained social workers across the nation and helped leaders of Parkinson’s Centers of Excellence understand the social worker’s role and importance on the Parkinson’s care team.

➢ As Co-Director of the NPF national outreach program, Community Partners for Parkinson Care (CPP) /National Parkinson Care Network, Gladys designed a program to improve access to Parkinson’s information, resources and care for those in diverse and underserved communities.

➢ Gladys also served for several years as a member of the NPF Centers Review Board reviewing and designating NPF Centers of Excellence in Parkinson’s.

Inspired by needs identified through the poignant experiences of her parents (her father was a caregiver to her mother who had Parkinson’s) and others living with Parkinson’s disease, she co-founded the New York University Parkinson & Movement Disorders Center, an NPF Center of Excellence. This center is dedicated to developing access to the right care at the right time throughout the continuum of care, including the unique NYU/JCC Parkinson’s Wellness Program offering classes in Yoga, Pilates, Tai chi, NIA dance and movement, Water and Chair exercises, the Alexander technique and a caregiver support group.

Gladys was a sought-after national speaker and a published scholar, co-authoring her most recent book, HealthConnect: A Practical Guide to Community Outreach which won the Wilmer Shields Rich Gold Award from the National Council on Foundations. Other awards included the NPF Allied Team Faculty Award for Leadership in interdisciplinary teaching in Parkinson’s disease, the NYU Silver School Alumni Award for her distinguished contributions to the field of social work, and awards for her work from NASW-NYC/Latino Social Work Task Force and the Puerto Rican Family Institute. Most recently, Gladys was given a Leadership Award by the NYU Parkinson and Movement Disorders Center.

Her warm presence, enormous compassion, wonderful sense of humor and gift for making everyone feel valued and special in her presence will be greatly missed. She graced us with her intelligence and wisdom, creativity, passionate support of those affected by Parkinson’s disease and strong commitment to teaching others about this disease and improving the quality of Parkinson’s care.

We were blessed to have benefited from her expertise and willingness to share her knowledge and insights. She raised the bar in teaching about and designing comprehensive Parkinson’s services. We honor her memory best by continuing her work on behalf of people and families affected by Parkinson’s disease.

Expressions of sympathy or tributes to her can be posted on the NPF website under the “Ask the Doc” Forum.

Dr. González-Ramos is survived by her husband, Ernesto; a brother; two nieces; a nephew; uncles, aunts and cousins; and a close community of friends and colleagues.

A Memorial Service will be held in New York City at Grace Church on January 29, 2011. Further information will be posted on the NPF website as it becomes available.

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My wife and I first heard Gladys speak to a Parkinson's Disease support group in Memphis TN. She was one of the most inspirational, and "from the heart" speakers we had ever heard- anywhere. She moved us to tears. It was an honor knowing her for many years, and we will honor her memory by trying to live up to the high bar she set for social work in PD.


Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.


Michael and Leslie Okun

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I first met Gladys in Houston at the 2008 NPF Leadership conference. As a social worker just starting out in the world of Parkinson's disease I was instantly impressed by and drawn to Gladys. As Dr. Okun describes, Gladys was gifted at many things but what truly impressed me about her was her warmth and her ability to instantly connect with others. She was not only a social work leader within the area of PD, but she was a leader and a role-model for social workers nationally. Though I did not know Gladys for many years, I greatly appreciated her consultation and I cherish the time I was privileged to have worked with her. Gladys will be greatly missed.

My thoughts are with her family and loved ones.


Jason Malcom

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I first met Gladys at the ATTP meeting in Vail in 2007. Working with and learning from Gladys was a real privilege. Her genuine warmth and dedication to the people she worked with has been truly inspirational. May we all find comfort in our memories.

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Our thoughts and sincere sympathy go out to Gladys' family. Several of our Clinic team had the opportunity to meet and learn form Gladys at NPF Allied Team Training sessions and other NPF meetings. We will remember Gladys as a wonderful educator, a caring individual and a skillful social worker.

Movement Disorder Clinic Team

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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