Our Team

Nader Robert Shabahangi, PhD: Founder, Artistic and Program Director

As an entrepreneur, Process Work facilitator and writer, Dr. Shabahangi enjoys creating projects for communal living focused on a human-centered model of care. He has developed elder communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is CEO and Co-founder of AgeSong. At AgeSong, Dr. Shabahangi ensures that the company’s vision drives its decisions and plans for elder care services.

In 1993, he also founded the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit organization that defines its mission as one of helping elders live meaningful lives through an existential-humanistic approach to care. A frequent guest lecturer, Nader presents at international conferences focusing on aging, psychotherapy, and forgetfulness (dementia). 

Nader founded Eldership Academy in 2017 to help develop a different view of aging and life, one which nurtures an attitude of eldership. Such an attitude understands life as a ground of learning to become more aware of our unity with all beings. Such an attitude views all manifestations of life as important and valuable. It is the central vision of the Eldership Academy an attitude of eldership can be learned and developed through skill development, interactive and experiential learning within community.

Please view his full CV here >>

He received his Doctorate from Stanford University and a Diplomate of Process Work, and is a licensed psychotherapist. A student of life, he reminds himself to listen to his Inner Elder.

Books, essays, and compilations:

  • Ambiguity of Suffering (2014 & 2018) outlining Dr. Nader’s research on the importance of understanding the underlying meaning of both psychological and physical symptoms for individuals and the world they inhabit. 

  • Encounters of a Real Kind (2012), a compilation of stories highlighting Dr. Shabahangi’s innovative Gero-Wellness program where young psychotherapy interns work in partnership with often very frail and forgetful elders in elder communities. 

  • Elders Today (2011), a photo essay describing the opportunities awaiting us in our second half of life. 

  • Gems of Wisdom (2011, editor), a collection of poems written largely by elders living in assisted living communities throughout California. 

  • Conversations With Ed (2009, co-authored), challenging readers to look at dementia in different ways.

  • Deeper Into the Soul (2008, co-authored), aimed at de-stigmatizing and broadening our understanding of dementia.

  • Faces of Aging (2003), challenging stereotypical views of the aging process and of growing old.

Julia Wolfson PhD, PW Dipl: Quality Director & Program Advisor

Julia works internationally with human service providers, social care and educational organisations, often recovering and transforming in the aftermath of abuse and moving from custodial care to the enablement of self-powered people and communities. She and Nader work together across the spectrum of care, support, health services and education environments, spanning all ages. 

After working for twenty years in various countries in social care and human services, in the military, in start-ups, urban and rural therapeutic communities and social enterprises, Julia experienced just how difficult it is for motivated, good-hearted people to lead organisations and provide quality of life services, when there are deeply entrenched historical and social conflicts and abuse in the background. With the help of her studies and teachers in the Process Work tradition, her company, Turning Forward, was her response to this challenge. At the heart of her work with leaders, specialists, practitioners, and people reliant on care and their families, is a timeless principle: the person reliant on care, who often has the least external influence in the environment, has much to teach about what it means to be human, and how communities can build a diverse friendly environment in which all people have opportunities to learn and grow and contribute. This principle is at the core of her approach to organisational change, staff development, and aligning personal and professional growth with vision, to increase happiness for everyone. 

Julia and Nader met as students with the Deep Democracy Institute. They quickly discovered their shared passion in making the lessons for life teachings of people reliant on care and support available to the broader field. She enjoys home time in Canberra, Australia. Julia is an active student and member of the global Deep Democracy Institute learning community.           

Please visit Turning Forward here.

Community & Production

Jackie Goneconti Gibbons

Jackie met Nader, Julia and Michelle on the wild journey on life. They all have some good stories, but we will save those for another time. It was obvious they could all empower each other from their own little perches in the world. Through her work in marketing, communications, branding, and engagement, it’s Jackie’s personal commitment to get people moving together (literally, due to her background as a dance artist) and packaging our offerings for all to use.

Educators & Facilitators

Madeleine Cunningham

Madeleine is a professional studio potter from Wales, creating and teaching in her pottery in the beautiful, Pembrokeshire region. She has facilitated workshops for many years in Greece and Wales. She is a practitioner in Swedish massage and aromatherapy.


President: Nader Shabahangi, PhD
Treasurer: Julia Wolfson, PhD
Secretary: Salome Schwarz, PhD

Dr. Salome Schwarz has been a faculty member at the Process Work Institute and has worked in private practice since 1993. Her great passions in life are awareness, dreaming, and nature. Salome likes working with individuals and teams in diverse settings and enjoys being an international trainer and consultant. She loves Process Mind practice because of the dreaming connection it creates with others, the earth and universe. She also loves to capture the mystery of life through photography.

Special Thanks from Nader & Julia

Thank you in particular to our teachers Drs Amy and Arny Mindell and Drs Ellen and Max Schupbach, who have introduced us to the pioneering Process Work paradigm and continue to guide our learning path.