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Area Agency on Aging Director To Retire

York County Area Agency on Aging Director Dianna Benaknin, a tireless advocate for seniors who helped drive a revitalization of York County’s senior centers, will retire in February, the York County Commissioners today announced.

Benaknin, a 34-year employee who has led the Area Agency on Aging since March 2005, will step down February 20.

“Dianna will be greatly missed, not just within County government, but throughout the community,” said York CountyDiannaBenaknin Commissioner Chris Reilly. “She will be remembered for her calm determination and willingness to upset the status quo to do what’s right for our seniors.”

Under Benaknin, the York County Area Agency on Aging has become a statewide leader in programming, advocacy and the development of community partnerships.

She has helped lead the Area Agency through major philosophical changes in the care of seniors. For example, Benaknin has helped manage an ongoing shift away from facility care, such as nursing homes, to more community-based care as driven by the client’s wishes.

Under her watch, the Agency developed a new funding structure for the County’s senior centers to incentivize improved performance. The changes have resulted in a nearly 200 percent increase in attendance at the centers. More than 875 now attend each day, compared to 300 before.

“She’s an innovator and a leader,” said Crystal Lowe, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging. “Seniors throughout Pennsylvania are better off today because of Dianna’s advocacy and pioneering approach to service delivery for older residents.”

Benaknin in 1977 began working for the County as a caseworker in what is now the Office of Children, Youth and Families. After taking time off to raise her family, she returned to the County as a case manager with the Area Agency on Aging.

She worked her way up the ranks, succeeding Lowe as Agency director on March 14, 2005.

“Throughout my career, I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from, work with, and partner with so many dedicated and talented individuals,” Benaknin said. “I am proud that together, we worked to protect, educate, advocate for, and provide for older adults in this community.”

Benaknin, 59, said she plans to spend more time with friends and family after retiring from the County. She also expects to remain active in the community and continue to advocate for the senior population.

The Board of Commissioners is proposing to appoint Area Agency on Aging Deputy Administrator Mark Shea to succeed Benaknin, pending formal approval by the York County Salary Board.

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