Shannah Gilliam, Director

Shannah GilliamOffice of Area Agency on Aging

Shannah Tharp Gilliam, Ph.D. is the Director for the Area Agency on Aging (DHS-AAA) in the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, which serves over 40,500 people each year.

Prior to her hire at ADHS-AAA, Tharp Gilliam served as a nonprofit leader for over a decade in Homewood where she experienced the challenges and satisfaction nonprofits face in their work to develop strategic, innovative, and effective solutions. In addition to her senior leadership roles, throughout her nearly 20 year career, she has developed and led community-driven advocacy initiatives focused on equipping residents to engage with policy-makers for racial, economic and social justice. And she has spearheaded efforts that elevate equity issues and activate resources, such as bringing COVID-19 vaccine to elders in partnership with multiple regional agencies (e.g., Age-Friendly Pittsburgh, United Way of Southwestern PA, University of Pittsburgh, and Homewood Children’s Village). These projects led to recognition by the University of Pittsburgh, Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement’s Partnerships of Distinction Award (2019) and SWPPA’s (Southwest Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging), Age-Friendly Leadership, Charles W. Pruitt/Mary Anne Kelly Awards of Excellence (2021).

As a behavioral scientist, she values rigorous processes that increase understanding of health, education, employment, and social policy at levels from national to the community. At the same time, experience born in Pittsburgh’s communities adds the recognition that real-world challenges require flexibility, adaptability, and relationships.

“In my experience, Allegheny County is well-equipped for a bright future. A future where I want to grow old. To meet the challenge, DHS’s offices and departments, community organizations, hospital systems, universities, policymakers, philanthropy, family members, and caregivers must bring their best to plan and deliver a comprehensive system of services for older adults in Allegheny County.” – Dr. G

A trained researcher, program designer and evaluator, she plans to activate a network of senior services with the highest quality supports for the County’s aging residents.

Her previous work experience includes as a director of research and evaluation for the Homewood Children’s Village, where she also co-led nationally-funded community-based participatory research projects, and as a behavioral scientist at RAND Corporation where she developed data-based policy recommendations and provided technical assistance for state and local education and health policy initiatives.

Gilliam is the secretary of the board of trustees of Allegheny County Sanitary Authority. She graduated from Georgetown University, has a Master of Science and Doctorate degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and holds a certification in program evaluation and public policy.

“My passion is to structure and align resources such that, together, we can develop a cohesive regional strategy to support well-being for all, including those in the most vulnerable populations.” – Dr. G