Bishop Charles Francis Buddy Award
Marilyn Ditty ’76 (MEd)
Founder Emerita, Age Well Senior Services
During the course of her distinguished career, Age Well Senior Services’ Founder Emerita Dr. Marilyn Ditty has been a catalyst and advocate for seniors in Orange County, Calif., for more than 40 years. Passionate about community-based programming and affordable senior housing, Dr. Ditty has been instrumental in the planning and development of affordable senior housing communities and senior centers throughout Orange County.
In 1975, she founded Age Well Senior Services (formerly South County Senior Services, Inc.), which has been providing critical services, resources and programs to seniors living in South Orange County, including serving more than 300,000 Meals on Wheels annually, as well as providing non-emergency medical transportation services to over 3,000 seniors annually. Dr. Ditty has grown Age Well Senior Services from a small nonprofit in the city of San Clemente, Calif., into a regional provider of community-based services for seniors in 17 cities throughout a 400-square-mile service area.
Dr. Ditty has received numerous accolades for her dedication to improving the welfare of senior citizens. In 2011, she was named an Outstanding Founder on National Philanthropy Day Orange County. She received the coveted SAGE (Senior Achievement and General Excellence) Award from the Senior Housing Council, was named Orange County Business Woman of the Year by the Orange County Business Journal, received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the County of Orange, and was honored at a nationwide tribute to caregivers by Marriott Senior Living Services.
In 1994, Dr. Ditty was chosen as the California State Senate Woman of the Year and in 1981,1995 and 2005, she served as a delegate to the White House’s Conference on Aging. She has often served as a presenter for both the National Council on Aging and the American Society on Aging conferences. On the international front, she was honored with an invitation to attend The Strategic Planning for Aging Conference in China, and was subsequently invited as a presenter at the International Congress on Gerontology in Jerusalem, Israel, in 1995. Her published and internationally acclaimed paper, “Empowering Leadership in Later Years,” brought her an invitation to the 1997 Third Global Conference held in Durbin, South Africa.
In 1998, she was invited to Ruskin College in Oxford, England, to participate in research on aging well. She has been invited as a presenter at the International Federation on Aging Conferences in Perth, Australia (2002), Singapore (2004) and Copenhagen (2006). Dr. Ditty has served on the United Nations Committee for the U.S. and International Year of Older Adults from 1998 to present.
She holds a Doctor of Public Administration (D.P.A.) degree with an emphasis on gerontology from the University of La Verne. She earned her master’s degree from the University of San Diego and her undergraduate degree from the University of Miami. Additionally, she completed postgraduate studies in Gerontology and Educational Psychology at the University of Southern California.