caretakerThe Presence Care Project is a non profit organization with the mission to promote greater ease – less stress and greater well-being – in dementia care, both at home and in care communities. This is accomplished by bringing the Presence Care Approach in the form of training to the whole spectrum of individuals and organizations involved in dementia care: assisted living communities, home care and home health agencies, families and persons living with dementia, caregiver associations, health care providers, geriatric care managers, cultural institutions, faith-based organizations. The Presence Care training is tailored to meet the specific needs of different settings and organizations, and includes the 8-week Mindfulness Based Dementia Care program.

Executive Team

Laura Rice-Oeschger, LMSW, is the Chief Executive Officer and Lead Teacher for Presence Care Project. Moved by family experiences with long-term illness and memory loss, Laura has worked in dementia care for over twenty years in a variety of capacities.  She was the first Director of the University of Michigan Geriatrics Center Silver Club Memory Loss Programs prior to moving to California in 2000.  During her tenure with the Alzheimer’s Association of Los Angeles, she was clinical manager of early memory loss services and the grant funded Early Stage Initiative. The initiative launched new community based “Memory Clubs” in the Los Angeles region for adults with mild memory loss and their care partners. Laura currently leads the Wellness Initiative for the University of Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center (MADC) where she designs, implements and evaluates well-being and mindfulness-based programming. She is a consultant to the UM Silver Club Memory Loss Programs where she launched the Coffeehouse Mild Memory Loss Wellness Seminar series (1999) and the Elderberry Club (elder barely) for women living with early-onset dementia (2012). As a long-time meditator she began teaching mindfulness meditation in 2010 and has extensive professional training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) from the UMASS Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare and Society. Laura is a founding member and meditation teacher at the Ann Arbor Center for Mindfulness. She teaches Mindfulness-Based Dementia Care (MBDC) in the community and trains dementia care professionals participating in the intensive MBDC teacher training curriculum through the Presence Care Project. Laura holds advanced professional certifications in aging, dementia and contemplative clinical care and is a national and state presenter on memory loss and caregiver well-being. She received her MSW from The University of Michigan School of Social Work in 1997.


Ymkje Dioquino, MS, LMFT is the Chief Operating Officer of the Presence Care Project. She is a Family Care Therapist at the Ray Dolby Brain Health Center in San Francisco, where she provides psycho-therapeutic services and support to persons with Dementia and their families and friends. She has practiced mindfulness since age 19 and started teaching Mindfulness Based Dementia Care (MBDC) in 2014. She is passionate about the program after seeing how impactful it is in helping care partners navigate the profoundly painful challenges inherent in the Dementia process. Moving from a place of helplessness and hyper-vigilance to a place of hope, strength and growth, these care partners in turn positively influence their loved one with their enhanced wellness, presence, and attunement.  Ymkje presents on various dementia and caregiver related topics, including MBDC. She holds her Master’s degree in Clinical and Health Psychology from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where she lived until 1996, before moving to the United States. She is currently licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California.


Board of Directors

Marguerite Manteau-Rao, LCSW, ATR, is the founder of Presence Care Project. She was the lead instructor and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Dementia Care (MBDC) program at UCSF OSHER Center for Integrative Medicine. She is a consultant for communities and individuals involved in dementia care, co-founder of  Senior Living Consult, advisor for Living Well Assisted Living at Home, and member of  the California Assisted Living Association (CALA) Associate Member Speakers’ Bureau. Marguerite is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Clinical Director at Lakeside Park Specialized Elder Care Community. Marguerite is also a student of mindfulness meditation, and ex- Zen Hospice volunteer. She shares her mindfulness practice in the Mind Deep blog. Marguerite is a contributor for the Huffington Post where she writes on aging, end-of-life, dementia care, and mindfulness. Marguerite has an MSW from Loyola University of Chicago, an MBA from University of Chicago, and an MS in Industrial Engineering from Ecole Centrale de Paris. Last, but not least, Marguerite is Co-Founder of Neurocern, a new digital health startup aimed at supporting dementia caregivers with neuroscience-based coaching.

Paula Hertel is the Chair of the Board for the Presence Care Project. Currently, Paula is the founder of Echo Senior Living and co-founder of Senior Living Consult, both assisting professionals navigate the changing model of care for older adults. She is also co-founder of The ElderHub, a local online resource for older adults and families.  Paula was Chief Operating Officer of AgeSong Senior Communities, and before that, Vice President of Operations and Marketing for Elder Care Alliance. She also worked for ARV for 11 years in various capacities, including as Vice President of Operations, Marketing and Strategic Planning. Prior to her work in senior housing and care, she served as Director the City of Anaheim’s Adult Day Care Program. Paula holds an MSW from San Jose State University. Paula was past commissioner of the California Health Policy and Data Advisory Commission, past board member of Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), and is Past President and Education Co-Chair for the California Assisted Living Association (CALA).

Doris Bersing is the Treasurer of the Board for the Presence Care Project. She is the founder, and president of Living Well Assisted Living at Home. Prior to Living Well, Dr. Bersing was CEO of Pacific Institute, in San Francisco, a leading provider of psychological programming, senior services, education and research promoting individual and community wellness while teaching new perspectives on mental health and aging. At Pacific Institute she led and designed a cutting-edge training program in Gero-psychology that received regional accreditation. Dr. Bersing teaches in different universities in the San Francisco Bay Area and sits on the boards of  Advisory Council for the UCSF Collaboration (Institute of Health & Aging; School of Medicine and the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; and Lesbian Health Research Center) and the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland– Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Bersing has a doctorate from L’Universite de Toulouse Le Mirail, in France.

Key Influences that inspired this work

by: Marguerite Manteau-Rao

To my mother, I owe the experience of being with her since the beginning of her dementia, and the ability to notice what a difference mindfulness practice made in our relationship. From feeling only grief, to a growing acceptance of her in the moment, even appreciating new aspects of her personality that became freed as a result of her condition.

At Zen Hospice, I became further convinced of the power to heal the ones with dementia, with a mindfulness-based approach to caring. Many times at the Laguna Honda hospice ward, I saw a dramatic difference, between the way residents happily responded to us, the Zen Hospice volunteers, and the way they would become agitated when interacting with the regular staff who had not undergone the Zen Hospice training. At Zen Hospice, I also understood the great benefit of forming a mindful care community to support one another in mindfulness practice and in doing what can be difficult work.

With his now well researched Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, Jon Kabat-Zinn has established mindfulness practice as a legitimate protocol for stress reduction, and showed that it was possible to successfully bring a mindfulness-based training program into mainstream settings.