About Our Staff
Larry Polivka, PhD (Executive Director of The Claude Pepper Center, Scholar in Residence with The Claude Pepper Foundation, Inc.)
Larry Polivka serves as Executive Director of The Claude Pepper Center and Scholar- in- Residence with The Claude Pepper Foundation. His primary research centers on critical aging issues including long-term care, affordable health care, and economic security for America’s elderly population. He recently expanded the scope of his research on aging studies examining this complex issue in the global community. Proposed plans with Dean David W. Rasmussen of the College of Social Sciences and Political Policy for a Program in Global Aging at Florida State indicate the importance and significance of Polivka’s broadened research interests.
A Florida State graduate (1978), Polivka brings national recognition to his alma mater. In August 2011, he was presented with the Dr. Carl Osterbind Florida Council on Aging Award (August 2011) for his work with former Governor Bob Graham on the development of the Pathways to the Future plan. He also serves as the Chairperson for Governor Rick Scott’s Assisted Living Workgroup, and is the current Chairperson of the Social Research, Policy and Practice Section of The Gerontological Society of America. Polivka also received the Clark Tibbits Award from the Association of Gerontology in Higher Education in 2009 in honor of his outstanding contributions to gerontology and geriatric education. Prior to Polivka’s return to Florida State University, he was honored with emeritus status in recognition of his distinguished service as a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. He also served as the Associate Director of the School of Aging during his tenure at the university.
In addition to his academic contributions, Polivka has worked at the state and federal levels. His contributions to the State of Florida are numerous including service in several state agencies, as well as in the Office of the Governor. The White House Council on Aging, American Society on Aging, National Council on Aging, and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education have also benefited from his extensive consulting and committee work.
Polivka has also contributed to every major journal in his field. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Aging, Humanities and the Arts; Journal of Applied Gerontology; Journal of American Medical Association; The Gerontologist; Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology; Journal of Applied Gerontology; and was co-editor of the Journal of Aging and Identity. His most recent publication, “Neoliberalism and Postmodern Cultures of Aging (2011)” in the Journal of Applied Gerontology is highly regarded for the unique interdisciplinary perspective the article brings to aging studies. “How to Protect Social Security for Another 75 Years (2010),” is another recent publication. Polivka’s article was printed in prominent newspapers throughout the state to honor the 75th anniversary of Social Security.
Tom Herndon (Executive Director and Treasurer of The Claude Pepper Foundation)
Tom Herndon serves as Executive Director of The Claude Pepper Foundation. In a state government that spanned 32 years, Tom Herndon served at the highest levels of management in Florida government including key positions in the Executive Branch, the Legislature and the Cabinet. A Florida native, Mr. Herndon started his government career working as a child abuse counselor in his hometown of St. Petersburg. He ended his public service as the Executive Director of the Florida State Board of Administration, managing $125 billion dollars of the State’s investments and pension fund assets. The breadth of his public service to Florida is truly unique in that no other senior state official has served in as many powerful and high profile positions for both Democratic and Republican administrations. He also enjoys the rare experience of having served as a senior official in all three aspects of Florida’s fiscal system. His unique and intimate understanding of Florida’s planning and budgeting process is unparalleled. He has served on the Board of Directors numerous national organizations including the National Association of State Budget Officers, Council of State Planning Agencies, National Association of State Tax Administrators, Council of Institutional Investors, National Association of State Investment Officers, and was twice appointed by the New York Stock Exchange to the Pension Manager’s Advisory Board.
Glenn Mitchell, PhD (Director of The Claude Pepper Data Center and Faculty)
Dr. Glenn E. Mitchell II is the Director of The Claude Pepper Data Center and a faculty member at Florida State University. Highly respected for his grant work, he is currently supervising a large-scale grant between Florida State University, Florida Medicaid, and Medicare. The grant highlights the legacy of Senator Claude Pepper with its cutting edge analysis of the current strengths and weaknesses of long-term care in the State of Florida.
Dr. Mitchell also maintains an Aging Long-Term Care Data Warehouse. The extensive collections include data from the Agency for Health Care Administration, Florida Department of Elderly Affairs, Florida Department of Health, and U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies. The recent addition of Florida Medicaid utilization and MDS III data to the warehouse furthers accessibility to policy-relevant information on Florida’s aged and disabled adult populations by interested PhD students and scholars at Florida State University, in addition to research analysts at The Claude Pepper Data Center.
The academic world and state government have greatly benefited from Mitchell’s many contributions. Early in his academic career, he taught at the University of South Florida and Florida State University. Mitchell also served as a top administrator in the Methodology and Studies Section in the State Data Center on Aging at the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.
Mitchell has a wide variety of professional interests ranging from politics to health care. In addition to his extensive publication of discipline-related articles, datasets and reports, he has authored three books pivotal to computer networking and programming: Beginning Java Networking, Professional Java Data and Professional Oracle 8i Application Programming with Java, PL/SQL and XML.
Monica Laughlin (Office Administrator)
Monica Laughlin has worked at The Claude Pepper Center since 1997. Invaluable for her administrative and management support during the early planning stages of the Center, she remains an integral part of the organization’s daily activities. Ms. Laughlin is responsible for all administrative, financial and human relations operations, and assists in the development and implementation of the many events at The Claude Pepper Center.
Lisa Rill, PhD (Research Faculty III)
Dr. Lisa Rill is a recent graduate of Florida State University’s Department of Sociology in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy (2011). While in graduate school, Dr. Rill distinguished herself with numerous awards and honors. She has certificates in Aging Studies and Teaching Training from Florida State and Florida Atlantic universities, and a Social Service Designee Certificate from the Indiana Healthcare Association. Rill was also the recipient of two research grants, and the prestigious Claude and Mildred Pepper Dissertation Fellowship. Her areas of specializations are health and aging. Further studies have led to additional foci of retirement and long-term care, and social services and organizations.
Dr. Rill had a successful professional career as well. Before coming to Florida State, she worked overseas at the Kumano-Intercultural Center in Shingu, Japan, and served as a Social Worker in nursing homes, rehabilitation, and senior centers throughout north and south Florida, and Indiana. At Florida State and Florida Atlantic, Rill taught a wide variety of sociology courses. A Research Associate at The Claude Pepper Center, she currently works with Dr. Larry Polivka, Scholar-in-Residence at the Pepper Center, and Dr. David Rasmussen, Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy on a long-term care and integrated care education and training program.
Dr. Rill’s undergraduate studies were at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. She has a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with an emphasis on the social and behavioral sciences.
Dr. Gonzalez received her PhD in Sociology from Florida State University in 2011. Her major area of focus was Inequalities & Social Justice, with interests in research methodology and quantitative analyses. During graduate school she taught several undergraduate courses including Intro to Sociology, Deviance and Social Control (online), and Social Statistics. She also developed a new course for the department, “Crime & Society.” She was nominated by her students for a teaching award. Dr. Gonzalez also published peer-reviewed articles about inequality in the juvenile justice system and presented her work at several professional, academic conferences.
After graduation, Dr. Gonzalez was employed with the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE). She began her career at FLDOE as one of the three SAS programmers responsible for the state’s school grades calculation. Despite having no formal SAS training, she was able to quickly pick up the programming language — which is one of the skills that she brings to the Claude Pepper Center. Within one year she was promoted to “Research Coordinator.” As research coordinator, she directed the major external and internal research activities. She also produced several reports for the department and managed several contracts and data sharing agreements.
Dr. Gonzalez’s interests in inequalities & social justice among the aged led her to the Claude Pepper Center where she works with Dr. Larry Polivka, Scholar-in-Residence. Their research focuses on long-term care settings including the Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, The Green House Project, and international comparisons of long-term care. She also programs and analyzes data for the center.
Carolyn Muse, MS (Budget Analyst)
Carolyn Muse received her BS degree in Exceptional Child Education from Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. After teaching in South Florida for several years, she moved to Tallahassee where she earned a MS degree in Instructional Systems Design at Florida State University. Following graduation, Ms. Muse relocated to Seattle, Washington, where she designed and developed computer-based training for Boeing pilots and maintenance technicians, and assisted in the development of a training evaluation plan for FAA propulsion engineers.
After returning to Tallahassee, Ms. Muse was employed with the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) as an administrator, researcher, and project manager. Within a few years she was promoted to assist in the start-up of a multimedia unit at AHCA, where she pursued a lifelong interest in graphic design and, later, website design. Ms. Muse brings many skills to the Claude Pepper Center where her design, management, and research capabilities are all utilized. Her current focus is on researching issues related to nursing home quality of care and quality of life.