Janie Druskin has always had a passion for connecting people—whether it was in her daily work as a patient representative in the healthcare field, helping patients communicate effectively with their doctors, or in her creative work as a graphic designer, helping businesses tell their stories via engaging and exciting advertising campaigns and collateral.

Equipped with a B.F.A. in graphic design from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in public relations from American University, she successfully founded a thriving graphic design business, handling creative & advertising projects for the likes of the Smithsonian Institution and the World Wildlife Fund.

As a lover of the outdoors, Druskin often strolled through the local Rock Creek Park, not far from Knollwood. Though she had often admired the lush, green campus, it wasn’t until she met Carol Campbell, former Knollwood Resident Services Director, that she got to truly experience the community. This new connection proved to be a positive one—so much so that upon meeting with Druskin, Campbell saw how beneficial her energy and enthusiasm could be for Knollwood.

After seeing how well her father, who had been in an Alzheimer’s home, responded to creative activities, she wanted to “pay forward to others the joy he experienced.” Thus, a new passion of Druskin’s was born. She set out to give aging adults, in both assisted and independent living, the chance to engage in creative activities and connect via their shared experiences.

She began her work at Knollwood in 2015, becoming Creative Arts, Events, and Trip Coordinator—a role that encompasses a list of responsibilities almost as long as the title itself. Today, her tireless work and research help make it possible for Knollwood residents to engage with almost every creative activity in the book.

“My goal is to inspire creativity among the residents and have them try something they have always wanted to do—have them step out of their comfort zone,” Druskin says.

She’s helped cultivate a thriving and robust arts program, complete with monthly writing, expressive fine arts, and craft classes, in addition to coordinated trips to explore all of the cultural, art- and history-rich spots Washington, D.C. has to offer.

Each trip Druskin plans has a goal that is two-fold: connect residents via shared experiences and keep wellness in mind—whether it be physical, emotional, community, social, spiritual, or educational. She even brings her passion for graphic design to the forefront in the creation of promotional materials for each independent living trip.

“Janie brings a new meaning to wellness,” Whitney Brede, Knollwood’s Director of Independent Living said. “You can see the joy on the faces of every resident who participates in these activities and trips.”

Among the numerous classes and programs available within the community at Knollwood, Druskin has helped facilitate writer’s workshops, watercolor classes, art therapy sessions, craft classes, discussion groups, and Make & Tech classes (where residents collaborate on 3D-printing projects, and more!)

“The energy she brings to her Knollwood role each day is indescribable,” said Carol Ann McCormick, Knollwood’s Director of Sales & Marketing. “We are so lucky to have a light that shines as bright as she does.”

Knollwood residents have access to trips to historical homes, military sites, Smithsonian museums and exhibits, art galleries such as the Phillips Collection, shows at the Kennedy Center and The Reach, religious sites, cultural sites, and a variety of restaurants in the area.

“I love my work here at Knollwood.” Janie says. “I am inspired by the residents every day and I want to inspire, challenge, and listen to their stories and make their wishes come true.”

Through it all, Druskin’s goal has remained strong and clear: helping those in the Knollwood community connect through shared experiences, familiar and newfound interests alike, and most of all, through their creative expression.