Paul Markowitz, Founder
Paul is the owner and principal of Senior Living Specialists. He founded the company as a result of his personal experience trying to find an assisted living community in the Dallas area for his mom, Betty when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the young age of 59. After his family’s personal struggle to find senior living for her, Paul decided that he wanted to do something to help other families who found themselves in similar situations. He knew how stressful and difficult the process could be. After touring many DFW senior living communities, the Senior Living Specialists helped its first family find appropriate care in May of 2009.
Paul earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Indiana University and studied abroad in Florence, Italy. Prior to founding Senior Living Specialists, Paul was a Strategy Consultant for four years. In that role, he worked on mergers and acquisitions and business development cases on behalf of many Fortune 500 companies located throughout the United States.
In his spare time, Paul enjoys spending time with his family, traveling with his wife, playing golf and fly fishing. Paul has lived in Dallas for over 20 years and is very active in the community. He often speaks to area organizations about the challenges of caring for a loved one and what families should look for when considering a retirement living community.
Christy Byerly, Licensed Master Social Worker
Christy was born and raised in Plano, Texas where her family still lives. She graduated from Plano Senior High School and attended college at Southwest Texas State University where she was awarded a bachelor’s degree in social work. Christy went on to earn her Master of Science in Social Work degree in 2005 at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW).
Christy has been working in the DFW healthcare industry since 2005. She worked in hospitals, acute rehab facilities, skilled nursing facilities and home health care agencies as a social worker, case manager and clinical liaison. She lives in Plano with her husband and three sons. Christy enjoys traveling, spending time with her family and playing tennis.
Donna Diaz, Community Outreach – Metroplex East
Donna Diaz, a Texas native, was born in Dallas and raised in Mesquite. She began her career in the healthcare industry working for the Baylor Healthcare system for 8 years, first at Baylor Medical Center at Garland in Nursing Administration, then transitioned to the Marketing department as their Community Relations Coordinator. She then went to Baylor Medical Center Dallas and worked for the Baylor Foundation in Productions.
In 2007 she began working for a memory care community as their Marketing Director. During her almost 7 years with this community, her heart and compassion for seniors grew not only for the seniors but for their families as well. During this time, she was also able to gain further senior industry knowledge including the various resources available to seniors and helped so families faced with the difficult decision of placing their loved one in a memory care community.
She also facilitated a monthly Alzheimer’s support group for almost 7 years through the Alzheimer’s Association, helping families, caregivers and friends of persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia, meet and develop a mutual support system as well as helping members feel better prepared to handle and cope with their situations. Donna then went on to work in independent living, assisted living and memory care and then hospice, each time as Marketing Director.
Donna joined Senior Living Specialists in October of 2017 and is grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the senior community by helping provide such a valuable service to families and healthcare professionals. Donna states, “All too often families truly do not know where to start and do not know what options are out there when searching for a senior living community or other resources, this is where we come in, we provide a free valuable service and guide and support families every step of the way to take off the stress and help identify the best possible option for their loved one”.
Donna and her husband married in 2009 and have a wonderful son and daughter-in-law and two grandkids that are their pride and joy. They also have a beautiful German Shepard they say is their “wild child”. Donna enjoys spending time with her grandkids, cooking, traveling, crafts and spending time with family and friends.
Jolie Derr, Marketing and Outreach
Jolie Derr grew up in a household made up of immediate and extended family, alongside her brother, her mother, her grandparents and her great-grandmother. This multigenerational living arrangement shaped her deep dedication to and respect for senior adults. It also gave her a personal understanding of the challenges that loved ones’ changing needs can have on a family.
Jolie is a graduate of Tulane University, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She began working in the senior living industry immediately after college, and has over 20 years of experience working with seniors and their families in the operation and marketing of senior living communities. She has had hands on involvement in a wide range of settings, offering differing levels of care, including: Independent Living; Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Memory Support. These communities include those with a variety of configurations, including: Continuing Care Retirement Communities, as well as stand-alone communities. She has worked with entrance fee (“buy in”) communities and with rental options. So, she is all too familiar with the many ways senior services can be offered, and with how confusing these options may be to prospective customers. The truth is, there is no “one size fits all” answer to what is best. That’s why knowing how to approach the search is so important, and why Senior Living Specialists is such an important service.
Jolie has been working with the team at Senior Living Specialists since October of 2015, using her passion for working with seniors and their families, her knowledge of senior living options and her background in marketing and community outreach to spread the word about this very special FREE service that is being offered to the DFW community. She is truly dedicated to the Senior Living Specialist concept of helping families and individuals find their “perfect fit” within the myriad of senior care options out there.
Jolie has lived in University Park since 2006. Prior to that she lived in Preston Hollow. She’s a volunteer at her church, St. Michael and All Angels, and at HPISD schools and school parent organizations. She also enjoys practicing yoga, cooking, traveling and spending time with her husband and their two daughters.
Sandra Johnson, Community Outreach & Family Liaison
Sandra was born and raised in San Diego, California, moved to Texas as a young adult, and is a Texan at heart. She moved to Dallas from Houston with her young family 22 years ago, and has lived in Plano for 19 years. She was a “stay-at-home mom who was never home”, busy raising her family in addition to being an active community volunteer, and supporting aging parents with chronic illness. During this time, her husband’s father, and later her husband’s mother, were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Sandra has personal insight into the many challenges and decisions facing families coping with Alzheimer’s disease. She understands the importance of identifying and selecting “the right” senior living community with the appropriate amenities, staffing and care options available to meet a loved one’s changing care needs.
A passion for working with seniors led Sandra to volunteer at a senior living community, sparking a new career in senior living. Prior to joining Senior Living Specialists, Sandra spent 8 years working in operations and marketing in independent living, assisted living and memory care communities. She provided care, assistance and guidance to residents and families, in her role as activity coordinator, community relations director, and associate executive director within the community setting.
Sandra and her husband are empty nesters with two adult children. She enjoys volunteering for the Greater Dallas Alzheimer’s Association, cooking, traveling, DIY home projects, and spending time with family and friends.
Sherry Christiaens, Community Outreach
Sherry is a native Texas, born and raised right here in north Texas. She graduated from R. L. Turner High School in Carrollton, TX and received her Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology (Human Performance & Sport) from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM. Sherry met her husband Steve while working at KLIF-AM Radio in Dallas in 1978. Steve & Sherry married in Dallas in 1979 and moved to Los Angeles, CA where both she & Steve worked in radio for many years before moving to New Mexico and then back home to Texas in 2011.
Sherry & Steve have four children and seven grandchildren. They live with their Saint Bernard, Mr. Beaux Jangles, seven cats and three horses in rural Blue Ridge, TX.
Sherry’s passion and concerns for seniors come from being exposed to dementia from an early age. Sherry’s grandmother, Vera, developed Alzheimer’s when Sherry was still in high school. Three of her maternal aunts that have lived passed from dementia related disease. Steve’s mom, Eileen, lived with them for 35 years. The last 15 years of Eileen’s life she lived with the progression of dementia, robbing her of the essential person she was and eventually causing her death.
Sherry has worked in healthcare for the past 14 years, first in respiratory care, then hospice and for many years in memory care communities. She is a Certified Dementia Practitioner and can help answer many questions about the disease. Sherry speaks throughout the Metroplex on the difficulties of living and coping with memory loss and would be happy to speak with your Church, homeowner’s association, support or social networking group to share her knowledge and answer those difficult questions you may have about dementia. Sherry is a support group facilitator for The Alzheimer’s Association and was the walk chair for the Alzheimer’s Association for Collin County for two years, started up the Senior Service Alliance for both the McKinney and Frisco Chamber of Commerce and also founded the North Texas Area Gerontological Society.
Sherry can provide your business or professional group with Continuing Education Units on many topics in the healthcare area. She also does consulting on Sales & Marketing for companies looking to hire, train, and retain the best sales and marketing representatives in healthcare.
Sherry is proud to be a part of the expert team of Senior Living Specialists helping families find the best community in the Collin County area, whether it is a residential care home, independent living, assisted living or memory care. She is also a resource for funding avenues, elder law, home health, home care, hospice, funeral arrangements and veteran’s benefits.
Sherry is a full resource for all your questions. She may not know all the answers but usually knows where to find them. If you would like to connect with Sherry, you can reach her by email at Sherry@SeniorLivingSpecialists.com or at 469-400-3496.
Kris Raab, Community Outreach – Metroplex West
Kris joined the Senior Living Specialists team in November 2017. She is a native Texan who believes her calling is to serve others, and entered in to senior healthcare in 2015. Kris has volunteered for numerous nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Dress for Success, Helping Restore Ability, Meals on Wheels, Soup Mobile Kitchen, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association and more.
Never known as shy, Kris is a natural spokesperson who enjoys public speaking and standing up for a good cause. Kris has danced professionally, been a morning personality on sports radio, acted in movies, and hosted a leading children’s dance competition for many years.
Kris and her husband, Charley, married 1000ft above the ground during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October 2017. They have one teenage son and one goofy little pug. Kris and Charley love to travel, cook, and find joy in new experiences.
Kris is honored to serve the elderly community and their families as part of the experienced, dedicated team at Senior Living Specialists.
Michelle was born and raised in Dallas/Fort Worth and learned early on it took hard work, dedication and determination to be successful. She attended a private school where she was learned compassion and the importance of giving back to the community required her to complete 100 hours of community service to graduate. She went on to volunteer for many organizations and current advocates for Seniors and serves on Alzheimer’s Association North Central Texas Chapter – The Longest Day Planning Committee, the Continuity of Care Board as Programs Co-chair promoting interdisciplinary communication and resources in healthcare and Tarrant Area Gerontological Society (TAGS) Board as Scholarship Chair focusing on furthering education and advocacy in the field of Geriatrics. Michelle is very active in the Tarrant County Senior Healthcare Community and is a Facilitator for a Senior Services networking group in the Arlington/Mansfield area. She is also the first to reach out to help those who are new to the area or industry.
She worked in Human Resources and Recruiting hiring employees for a broad range of industries from Airplane Food Services to Financial Services to Oil and Gas. After 10 years she left to help her mom with the family business, a Residential Care Home in SW Arlington. There she wore man hats including caregiver, payroll, bookkeeping, maintenance, family liaison and advocate always making sure her residents were getting not only the best care from her caregivers but also from all service providers that came into the home. Most recently, the need arose, so she stepped into a marketing and liaison role focusing on learning the ropes as quick as she could. There she turned her love of helping people into a love of helping the Elderly and saw how important it was to find the right fit in senior housing and that a cookie cutter approach would not work. After seeing the increasing need for Seniors to have easy access to resources, she joined Senior Living Specialists in November 2018 where she enjoys the rewarding task of helping Seniors and their families navigate the challenging process of finding resources.
Michelle has two young boys and lives with her husband and family in Tarrant County. During her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, going out with her husband and spending time with her family and friends. She is also very active with her sons school, their PTO and is the class Room Mom.
Tim Powell, Community Outreach & Family Liaison
A Texas native, Tim received his Bachelor’s degree in Music from Lamar University in Beaumont. He then moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he obtained a Master’s degree in Church Music from Oral Roberts University. An Ordained Minister, he served for 18 years in the Tulsa area in music ministry and church administration.
Tim returned to Texas 6 years ago, and has since been working in the senior health and lifestyle industry with experience in both hospice and home care services, as well as assisted living and memory care communities. He is a Certified Assisted Living Administrator, as well as a Certified Dementia Care Specialist.
He has a passion for working with Seniors and their families and more than anything wants to be an advocate and resource for them in any way possible. Tim joined Senior Living Specialists in 2016 and has enjoyed having the opportunity to make a daily difference.
Tim lives in Uptown Dallas with his husband Cory and their cat Dorah.
Donna Elliott, Family Liaison
Donna has worked in the senior care and housing industry since March of 2008, and joined Senior Living Specialists in January of 2013. Her previous career was spent in the multi-family housing where she worked for some of the largest REIT’s and management companies in the U.S. Donna’s heart is to serve others, and her role as a Family Liaison affords her that opportunity each and every day.
A member for over a decade at LifePoint Church in Plano, she sings with the choir, is on the prayer team and a leader for many new initiatives. Donna will tell you that stumbling on to a new career a decade ago was not by chance, but a “God thing.” She never realized that her ability to talk a lot was actually a gift that she has used to help countless families in north Texas!
Donna, her twins, now 17, three dogs and three cats call Plano home. She moved to north Texas 36 years ago and is happy to call it her home!
Steve Markowitz, Community Outreach
Steve born and raised in NYC has been residing in Texas since 1976; residing in Dallas the past 29 years. He is the proud father of Paul Markowitz, the founder of Senior Living Specialists. Life has come full circle for Steve professionally now a proud member of the SLS team since 2015. Steve brings 40 plus years of experience in sales and marketing in the women’s apparel business, skin care, oil/energy procurement, and perimeter security software technology sales to major airports.
Steve is most grateful for his loving family; Paul and his wife Aliyah and their 3 children, as well as his son Max and husband Bill who reside in NYC. In his spare time Steve gets great satisfaction volunteering at Ronald McDonald House near the Medical Center working in the kitchen no stranger to him as he is most passionate about cooking and baking. He too is an avid reader, lexicographer, sportsman, and lover of the great outdoors.
He lives each day putting others first hoping to “make a difference.”
Kimberly Corcoran, Family Liaison Assistant
Kim joined Senior Living Specialists in October 2016. She was born and raised in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit and graduated in 1986 with a word processing degree from Dorsey Business Schools. Kim moved to the Dallas area in 1994 with the money management company she was working for at that time. She is credited with being a founding member of the company. Her main background is in the banking and financial industry for over 25 years. Her primary role has been an administrative assistant and has worked in human resources, investments, and legal departments with a “can do” attitude and is known as a team player.
Kim has always had a soft heart for seniors and helping others. She enjoys providing support for the team at Senior Living Specialists and helping people find a place they can call home. Kim also loves being with her two children, reading, baking and playing her flute. Kim is a member of LifePoint Church in Plano and is a Stephen Minister and volunteers wherever needed. In 2004-2007, Kim was on the Relay For Life Committee (with the American Cancer Society) for Plano and helped with marketing and acquiring sponsorships for the event for three years. Working with the cancer survivors was the best reward possible.
Rev. Joe Schofield, Pastor, Community Outreach for Churches
Joe Schofield is a speaker, educator, and pastor for 45 years. His heart has been for seniors
for the last 15 years serving as the beloved pastor for the seniors at Prestonwood Baptist Church. He developed programs that lead seniors into deep enriched lives with God and each other. He started and planned the Platinum Singers, and many rewarding programs serving the seniors in the Plano, Texas region. He has held a Bible program on radio since his first church in California. His most recent program is on Salem Media radio program heard on 100.7 The Word FM. He has known Paul Markowitz for over ten years and has the same mission to make sure seniors are loved and cared for the way he would also want for his mom and dad.
Pastor Joe graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in Texas. He did extensive graduate studies as Southwestern Baptist Seminary. He also received honors in Bible education and history. He is an exceptional speaker and well known for his command at the podium, his passion for the finest care of seniors is heard in his delivery. He also served as pastor in churches in California, Arizona, and Texas. He implemented a successful television/radio ministry for his church throughout the foothills and all northern California. He was a featured speaker at two national single adult conferences in Nashville, TN. He served as Christian high school administrator, principal, and international student director in Oregon and Texas.