Pacific Institute
About PI

What is Pacific Institute

Pacific Institute offers ground-breaking programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our beautiful elder residential care communities called AgeSong WoodPark and AgeSong University form the home and core of our work. Elders Academy Press, the Existential-Humanistic Institute, and the Gero-Wellness Internship Program make up our other programs. Each of these is dedicated to teach and educate health care professionals, carepartners, and laypersons a humanistic, process-oriented model for working with people in need of care and support. We understand that a non-pathologizing, non-judgmental attitude towards people in need of help is as important for care to take place as is skill and expertise.

Whether you are a social worker, psychologist, physician, nurse, student or layperson, we would like to encourage you to tap into your own inner experience as a way to form a true connection with yourself and the people for whom you care. As such, caregiving becomes a reciprocal exchange allowing for a giving and receiving that is deeply rewarding to both helper and helped.

With the growing population of aging citizens the need for a more comprehensive, intelligent, and loving approach to both eldercare and emotional care is urgent today. Through teaching our philosophy of care and implementing it in our communities we hope to make a contribution to a more accepting and aware people and planet.

Our Vision

Pacific Institute embraces a vision of aging that sees elders as wisdom keepers and valuable social contributors irrespective of their physical, mental and spiritual state.

Our Mission

Is to create learning communities where elders continue to evolve and live a life of meaning and purpose.

Contact Pacific Institute

Pacific Institute
3121 Fruitvale Avenue, Oakland, CA 94602

The PI Board of Directors

With the growing population of aging citizens we need leaders that help us promote new perspectives on wellness and holistic care in elder communities.


Peter Szutu

Peter Szutu, MPH

Peter Szutu has over thirty years of healthcare and human services experience — from being a medic in the U.S. Air Force to directing a multi-social service agency; from independent health services consultant to his current position as President and CEO of the Center for Elders' Independence (CEI). He has extensive experi- ence in providing , planning, advocating and implementing a broad range of com- munity oriented health and human services. He has worked for the City of Berke- ley as a health planner and the California State Department of Health Services in the Office of External Affairs.

Mr. Szutu was closely involved in the development of three of the four adult day health care programs in Alameda County. He served as President of the Board of Community Adult Day Health Services (CADHS) and initiated the evolution of CADHS to become CEI. He served as interim executive director of CEI from July 1, 1993 to January 1994, becoming the permanent executive director in March 1995.

Since joining CEI, Mr. Szutu has nurtured its growth from 80 participants to over 440, from one site to four sites. He has also developed a number of collaborative and innovative ways to utilize the flexibility of the PACE model. These include lo- cating sites in conjunction with affordable senior housing and working closely with other community health care providers to offer a full continuum of care—from well through frail.

Mr. Szutu has provided national PACE leadership for years and is now the chair of the National PACE Association's Board of Directors. He has also been nominated by the Aging Services of California to the AAHSA (American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging) Board of Directors. Mr. Szutu holds a master's degree in public health administration from the Univer- sity of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor's degree from the United States Inter- national University. Affiliations include the NPA Public Policy Committee and Board Vice-Chair, Over 60/CEI, Inc.

Soo-Ah  Landa

Soo-Ah Landa
Board Member

Soo-Ah Landa is the Vice-President of Global Merchandise Sourcing and Technical Design for Disney Theme Parks and Resorts. Disney Theme Parks & Resorts operates theme parks located in Orlando, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong in addition to Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, and Disney Vacation Club resort properties around the world.

Soo-Ah joined Disney in 2008, and brings extensive retail and other multi-disciplinary expertise to Disney.

Soo-Ah joined Disney in 2008, and brings extensive retail and other multi-disciplinary expertise to Disney. Most recently, Soo-Ah served as Director of Sourcing for Pottery Barn Kids and pbteen, based in San Francisco. As the founder and managing partner of an online retail company,, Soo-Ah spearheaded all product development, sourcing and creative design.

Soo-Ah's professional background also includes serving as a management consultant with A.T.Kearney in their New York and Hong Kong offices, advising clients in consumer goods and financial services industries around the globe. Soo-Ah was also an investment banker with Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York.

Soo-Ah graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She joined the Pacific Institute board in 2013.

Richard Marc Patel

Richard Marc Patel, M.D.
Board Member

Richard Marc Patel, M.D. is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Attending Psychiatrist at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) Psychiatric Emergency Room. Dr. Patel is involved in numerous nonprofits, largely focused on health care and quality of life services here in San Francisco, nationwide and globally, such as: the Global Micro-Clinic Project treating diabetes and HIV/AIDs in Pakistan, India, the middle-East and Kenya; the Janet Pomeroy Center for patients with developmental delay; and SFGH volunteer and vocational rehabilitation programs. Dr. Patel has published numerous articles and has worked as an editor at Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), The Psychiatric Resident, and Journal of Health Care on Line. Currently, Dr. Patel is an editor at Cogent Medicine and Editor in Chief of Psychological Poems: Journal of Outsider Poetry. He is recent recipient of the Heroes & Hearts Award Research Grant, San Francisco General Foundation Psychiatric & Medical Emergency Room Communication Project.

Nader Shabhangi

Nader Shabahangi, Ph.D, MFT
Emeritus Board Member

Nader R. Shabahangi, Ph.D., received his doctorate from Stanford University and is a licensed psychotherapist. His multicultural background has made him an advocate for different marginalized groups of society throughout his adult life. In the 1980's he worked with abused children and teenagers and led anticipatory bereavement groups for Coming Home Hospice. In 1992 he founded the non-profit organization Pacific Institute with the purpose of training psychotherapists in a multicultural, humanistic approach to counseling and to provide affordable therapy services to the many diverse groups living in San Francisco. In 1994, noticing the often inhumane treatment of the elderly living in institutions, he started developing an innovative Gerontological Wellness Program in order to provide emotional support and mental health care services for the elderly. In 1997, together with his two brothers, Nader opened a residential care home for the elderly in San Francisco called Hayes Valley Care. There, along with the Pacific institute Internship team, he implemented the Gerontological Wellness Program. In the same year, with a group of psychotherapists, he co-founded the Existential-Humanistic Institute, a teaching program instructing students and professional therapists in an existential-humanistic approach to psychotherapy.

Nader continues to create programs with the purpose of caring more comprehensively for the elderly. In 2002 he helped found Pacific Institute Europe in Warsaw, Poland, in order to bring Gerontological and comprehensive care services to the European continent. He was also inspired to explore new ideas for community living and began design of a 'village' concept for older adults he calls Elders Academy. In 2003 he co-founded Elders Academy Press, a publishing program of Pacific Institute and Pacific Institute Europe, specifically dedicated to promoting writings of and for elders.

At the same time in Europe Nader began a program of conflict resolution between Russians, Germans and Poles. In 2003, combining his passion for the elderly with his love for photography and philosophy, Nader wrote Faces of Aging as a tribute and celebration of being an elder. In 2006 he wrote Deeper into the Soul with Polish professor Bogna Szymkiewicz, a book promoting a radically different view and attitude towards dementia. He elaborates this view in his 2009 book Conversations with Ed, co-written with Ed Voris who had been diagnosed with dementia, and UCSF professor Pat Fox. In 2011 he published Elders Today, a book that proposes a new paradigm of looking at aging and eldercare. He continues this exploration through teaching 'eldership' workshops in Europe and the US. These meetings explore the difference between getting 'old' and growing into the role of an elder and have the purpose of preparing us for old age and eldership.

Since 1995 Nader has been CEO of AgeSong, Inc., an assisted living development and management company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also led Pacific Institute, a non-profit he founded in 1993 to offer innovative forgetfulness (dementia) and eldercare.

Alan Klaum

Alan Klaum, M.A.
Emeritus Board Member

Alan brings international expertise to organizational and business development. He is co-author of In Our Fifties: Men and Women Reinventing Their Lives (1993) and is president of the Board of the San Francisco Mental Health Association. In his private practice, Alan brings cross-cultural experience and focuses on adult life transition issues, organizational development and conflict resolution. He has been part of the early beginnings of Pacific Institute and instrumental in shepherding the organization through the many changes and its growth.


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