Excelling as a drummer in high school, Tina Grace Bertelle rose to become the top female drummer in the state of New Mexico at just 18. Following her graduation, she began her career as the lead percussion clinician at Belen High School in 1992, a period which also saw her become one of the first female drummers to perform with Drum Corps International and the first girl to ever play at the Boys Club before it was the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She concurrently joined Perfection Honda as a customer relations manager in 1994 and remained in both roles until 1996. With a passion for helping others, Ms. Bertelle found herself drawn to health care and Alzheimer’s advocacy after seeing the poor care her grandfather received when he moved into an assisted living facility.
To further her goals, Ms. Bertelle sought a variety of certifications, including as a peer support worker, a dementia practitioner, a recovery support peer specialist, an International Council of Dementia Care practitioner and a Montessori dementia care professional. She has also been certified as an activity director by the California Association of Directors of Activities. In 2003, she began working in health as a trainer with Champion Taekwondo, followed by a position as a 5K coach for Fleet Feet, Incorporated from 2013 to 2014. During this time, she additionally served as the activities director for The Rose of Poway from 2010 to 2012 and established herself as a self-employed fitness trainer and running coach for individuals with Alzheimer’s in 2012, work she continued until 2021. Ms. Bertelle went on to become the director of resident engagement with Poet’s Walk Fredericksburg in 2017 and served as the activities director for the Fitness Ninja program at Sunshine Retirement Living from 2017 to 2020.
While living in Austin, Texas, Ms. Bertelle became involved in Alzheimer’s research, particularly in the application of virtual reality to problems of isolation and memory. In 2020, she brought her expertise in Alzheimer’s and dementia, gerontology, nutrition and fitness to WalkThru, a virtual reality company whose focus is combating the social isolation that can occur in assisted living facilities, which she has said felt like a dream coming to fruition. Today, she serves as the director of both development and education and client engagement, and her duties include educating the medical community and the public about the application of virtual reality to memory care, ADHD, depression and isolation. Ms. Bertelle is also responsible for finding grants and contracts and remains a dedicated advocate.
Alongside her work with WalkThru, Ms. Bertelle contributes her skills to Serna Solutions LLC as a family empowerment outreach officer, a role she has held since 2021. In order to remain up to date with new developments in her field, she maintains affiliation with a number of professional organizations, including the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners, where she is a volunteer; the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, where she sits on the Alzheimer’s congressional bipartisan committee for residents’ rights; and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, where she serves as a webinar presenter. Furthermore, Ms. Bertelle has donated her time as a volunteer recovery support peer specialist with Community for Recovery.
Ms. Bertelle considers the most gratifying aspect of her career to be being an innovator and helping to change policies and procedures regarding how residents in assisted living homes are treated. Notably, she has volunteered under Rep. Maxine Waters, who has done much to support Alzheimer’s advocacy and helped WalkThru get a $300 million grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Active in her community as well, she is a member of the Austin Dog Alliance and has been a vocal proponent for change in community policies. One particular instance she recalls was changing the way clothing donations were being distributed to schools after she noticed that affluent schools were being given donations that they didn’t need while underprivileged schools were getting overlooked.
For her excellence, both civic and professional, Ms. Bertelle has been the recipient of several honors and accolades. In 2017, she was honored for her accomplishments at a Life Builders’ luncheon by the Jewish Community Center and Community for Recovery. Her civic work with the Austin Dog Alliance was later recognized with a feature in the Austin Woman magazine in 2019. Looking toward the future, Ms. Bertelle plans to continue following her dream to empower elderly individuals through the WalkThru virtual reality platform, as well as continuing to advocate and fight for those who cannot speak for themselves. When it eventually comes time for her to retire, she hopes to become an ombudswoman so that she can further serve the public and advocate for the elderly population.