kathryn hester, ms



Kathryn Hester, MS, founder of the Elder Justice Foundation (EJF), has been invested in matters surrounding long-term care for seniors for more than 15 years. Previously, she was an analyst at the Long Term Care Institute, one of the leading organizations focused on long-term care quality and performance improvement, compliance program development, and review in long-term care, hospice and other residential care settings.

Her passion for elder care started during her master’s public health program when she studied the Elder Justice Act, and the difficulty in getting that bill passed. She realized there was a dearth of resources for long-term care, and especially for the prevention of elder abuse. In 2016, she and her father David Zimmerman, PhD founded EJF to fund projects that prevent elder abuse and promote elder justice.

Kathryn has a degree in biology and gerontology from the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, she likes to ski, play tennis, cheer on the badgers, and spend time at Silver Lake with her husband, son and daughter. 




 R. Zimmerman, Ph.D. is a Professor Emeritus of Industrial and Health Systems Engineering, and the former Director of the Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis (CHSRA), at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2016, Dr. Zimmerman and his daughter Kate Hester started the Elder Justice Foundation to fund projects that prevent elder abuse and promote elder justice.

Over the course of his academic career, Dr. Zimmerman supervised the work of many graduate and undergraduate students, and taught courses on health systems, health information, evaluation methodology and health performance measurement.

Dr. Zimmerman has more than 30 years of research experience in the measurement and evaluation of the quality and performance of long-term care.  He led the team that developed the original set of Minimum Data Set Quality Indicators for nursing homes. He has headed many projects to develop quality measurement and assessment systems serving consumers, providers and regulatory agencies. He is the founder, principal investigator and academic partner of the Wisconsin Coalition for Collaborative Excellence in Assisted Living (WCCEAL).

Dr. Zimmerman has served on the Nursing Home Measures Steering Committee of the National Quality Forum, the Board of Directors of the American Medical Directors Association Foundation, and many national provider network boards and quality committees.  He has been the recipient of multiple awards from government regulatory agencies and consumer advocate organizations, and has several times testified before congressional committees on long-term care quality issues. 



Kerry Burnight is a Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at the University of California, Irvine where she has served for 15 years. Burnight is the Director and co-founder of the nation’s first Elder Abuse Forensic Center, where her team of law enforcement officers, physicians, attorneys, and social workers have served over 1,000 older adults. Her research focuses on the medical forensic aspects of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and on innovative approaches to addressing and preventing abuse. She founded Ageless Alliance in 2012 to bring people of all ages together to take a stand against elder abuse. Burnight was recognized for her work by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011 (U.S. Victims of Crime Award) and has appeared on the Dr. Phil Show and Headline News.




Katrina Phelps was the founder of Care Connect, which assisted families facing the challenges of health limitations, the aging process, or loss of a loved one. 

The work of the Elder Justice Foundation fuels her passion for translating academic research into high quality programs with positive outcomes to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals. She believes that small organizations can have a big impact through innovative collaboration and capacity-building. 

Katrina has a B.S. in Education and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin. She was a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Western Kentucky University for more than a decade. Her research focused on positive youth development and community-university partnerships, and she taught classes in Child Psychology, Psychology of Sexuality and Grant Writing. 

In her free time, Katrina likes to travel, hike, read, cook and spend time with her family, including her husband, Nathan, her daughter and son, Alyssa and Riley, and her dog, Milo (who added a welcome new energy to the house when the children moved out).