Mary Ellen Geist grew up in a farmhouse in the country outside of Detroit, Michigan. She graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in English/creative writing and studied abroad in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She also took some graduate writing courses at the University of Michigan. She has been a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years, at ABC and CBS radio stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Her many honors have included national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for best newscast and investigative reporting, and Associated Press Awards for best newscast, live coverage, investigative reporting, and Reporter of the Year. Read More >
Geist’s decision to leave her job as an anchor at WCBS Radio in New York to become a caregiver for her father was the subject of a front page article in The New York Times on Thanksgiving Day, 2005. Her book about how she dealt with her father’s Alzheimer’s disease, Measure of the Heart, was released in August of 2008. Her first interview about the book was on NBC’s Today Show, followed by “The Diane Rehm Show” on NPR. Since then, she has been interviewed for newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV stations across the country.
Geist and her book were the cover story for Caring Today magazine in July 2008. She was also interviewed about her decision to leave her job to come home to help take care of her father for an article in Reader's Digest called "Home Front: A Reporter Takes on Her Toughest Assignment: Caring for Dad" in August of 2007. Her father Woody's musical ability—despite having Alzheimer's for almost sixteen years—is the subject of one of the chapters of Dr. Oliver Sack's recent book Musicophilia.
Geist was selected as one of the top 20 Michigan Notable Authors in 2009, which took her on a book tour of libraries throughout the state of Michigan. The website Beliefnet.com chose Measure of the Heart as one of the Best Books for Caregivers. The book was also selected to be read by Dick Estell for the nationwide Public Radio Program called “Radio Reader.” Measure of the Heart was also selected for AARP's "Best Book List.”
Since the release of the book, Geist has been lecturing about the gifts of coming home to help take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, and about the special connection music can create between caregivers and people living with Alzheimer's. As a result of the book, a cappella singing groups throughout the nation have begun organizing visits to residential facilities for people with Alzheimer's and nursing homes on a regular basis.
Mary Ellen Geist's perspective on the positive impact of music on people living with Alzheimer's disease is the topic of an article she wrote which was published in Prevention Magazine. She is currently working on a second book, writing for Traverse Magazine, and reporting for Public Radio. Read Less ^