The president and founder of the American Association
of Caregiving Youth (AACY), Connie Siskowski ’04 has
dedicated her life to a cause that was all too close to home.
Siskowski’s parents separated before she was born, and she and her brother moved in with their grandparents in New Jersey. When their grandfather became ill, Siskowski became his caretaker. He died when she was in eighth grade.
She turned the pain of this loss into a plan for her future. With both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing, she worked as a cardiac nurse specialist and licensed nursing home administrator. In 1990, she moved to Florida.
A friend from church encouraged Siskowski to start her own business.
So, she did, creating MD2You to conduct physician house calls.
After selling MD2You, Siskowski began working at AdultCare. This led her to the International Conference on Family Caregiving in London. There, stories of young caregivers reignited her passion for the issue.
She founded Volunteers for the Homebound and Family Caregivers in 1997. It became AACY, a nonprofit supporting family caregivers. It is no small issue. More than 1 million American children under the age of 18 manage the care of a family member who is ill, disabled or frail. AACY provides these children with community, education and healthcare resources.
“I wanted to have an even bigger voice for family caregivers,” she said.
So Siskowski applied to the doctoral program at Lynn. Her dissertation research became the cornerstone of the Caregiving Youth Project, garnering more than 20 awards, including CNN’s Hero award in 2012.
Her goal is clear: “No young person in the U.S. should have to drop out of school to fulfill family caregiving responsibilities.”
Her research at Lynn gave her momentum in the direction of that goal, so she is happy to be a donor to the university.
“To give,” she said, “is just the right thing to do.”