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Meet the Top 50 Influencers in Aging 2017

Meet Next Avenue’s Top 50 Influencers in Aging for 2017. These 50 advocates, researchers, thought leaders, innovators, writers and experts continue to push beyond traditional boundaries and change our understanding of what it means to grow older.

Learn more about this year’s list  |  Read previous Influencers’ views on aging | View the 2016 list | View the 2015 list 

The List


Influencer of the Year

Elizabeth Blackburn: Pioneering Research on Aging

President at Salk Institute, Irwin M. Jacobs Presidential Chair

Read Next Avenue’s interview with Blackburn and learn why her work makes her our 2017 Influencer of the Year.

Read Next Avenue’s interview with Blackburn and learn why her work makes her our 2017 Influencer of the Year.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I would remind everyone that telomere science has shown us how much we are connected, and at so many levels — from the macro to the micro and from the societal to the cellular — and that how we interact with and support each other affects the way we age. Compassion is critical.”  

Gretchen Alkema
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Gretchen Alkema: Leading Advocacy for Elder Care

Vice President, Policy and Communications at The SCAN Foundation

Alkema serves as the vice president of policy and communications for The SCAN Foundation, an independent nonprofit that promotes independent, dignified aging. Alkema has considerable experience in the field of aging: she was a John Heinz/Health and Aging Policy Fellow and an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow, focusing her research on aging, long-term care, mental health and public policy.

At The SCAN Foundation, Alkema works to advance the welfare of older Americans by advocating for health and long-term care solutions. The foundation also sponsors research in the field of aging and care through its grant program for research on elder care. (Full disclosure: Next Avenue is a grantee.)

Alkema serves as the vice president of policy and communications for The SCAN Foundation, an independent nonprofit that promotes independent, dignified aging. Alkema has considerable experience in the field of aging: she was a John Heinz/Health and Aging Policy Fellow and an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow, focusing her research on aging, long-term care, mental health and public policy.

At The SCAN Foundation, Alkema works to advance the welfare of older Americans by advocating for health and long-term care solutions. The foundation also sponsors research in the field of aging and care through its grant program for research on elder care. (Full disclosure: Next Avenue is a grantee.)

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Each day we are all living, until the day we die. Therefore, I hope Americans of all ages fully embrace Soren Kierkegaard’s words, ‘Life [and hence, aging] is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.’”

Jacqueline Angel
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Jacqueline Angel: Focusing on Older Latino-Americans

Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs

Angel’s research focuses on health and retirement issues in the United States, with a particular emphasis on older Mexican-Americans and Latinos. She is a Gerontological Society of America fellow and a senior fellow with the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine’s Sealy Center on Aging.

A public affairs and sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Angel is also a prolific author, having written or edited 80 journal articles, 30 book chapters and 10 books about aging and culture. Her most recent is Family, Intergenerational Solidarity, and Post-Traditional Society, a book that explores the practical and ethical questions families face when caring for aging elders.

Angel’s research focuses on health and retirement issues in the United States, with a particular emphasis on older Mexican-Americans and Latinos. She is a Gerontological Society of America fellow and a senior fellow with the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine’s Sealy Center on Aging.

A public affairs and sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Angel is also a prolific author, having written or edited 80 journal articles, 30 book chapters and 10 books about aging and culture. Her most recent is Family, Intergenerational Solidarity, and Post-Traditional Society, a book that explores the practical and ethical questions families face when caring for aging elders.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Aging policy in the future should not focus excessively on decline, disengagement and dependency. Instead, institutions must encourage norms and attitudes that enhance full engagement and generatively in the family, community and nation for as long as possible.”

Roz Baker
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Roz Baker: Supporting Family Caregivers

Hawaii State Senator, Chair, Committee on Commerce Consumer Protection and Health, 6th Senate District – South and West Maui

As a Hawaii State Senator, Baker has spent her political career advocating for her most vulnerable constituents. In 2017, Baker sponsored a state bill to provide relief for caregivers, especially families for whom assisted living facilities are too expensive.

Baker’s bill, which Gov. David Ige signed into law July 6, funds a benefit program that would offer financial support to families helping to provide care for vulnerable older adults. A longtime proponent of accessible health care, Baker focuses on education, domestic violence prevention and elder care.

As a Hawaii State Senator, Baker has spent her political career advocating for her most vulnerable constituents. In 2017, Baker sponsored a state bill to provide relief for caregivers, especially families for whom assisted living facilities are too expensive.

Baker’s bill, which Gov. David Ige signed into law July 6, funds a benefit program that would offer financial support to families helping to provide care for vulnerable older adults. A longtime proponent of accessible health care, Baker focuses on education, domestic violence prevention and elder care.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Improve protection of elders from abuse — financial, cyber, physical or psychological — by family members and others, by raising awareness through educating older adults, caregivers, law enforcement and older adult-serving agencies and providers while strengthening state and federal adult protection laws.”

Lori Bitter
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Lori Bitter: Offering Insights About Boomer Grandparents

Author of 'The Grandparent Economy'

A sought-after speaker, author, consultant and publisher, Bitter is an expert on trends in boomer marketing and older consumers. She is the author of The Grandparent Economy: How Baby Boomers are Bridging the Generation Gap, a book that synthesizes research from over 1,000 boomer grandparents to chart new trends in spending, engagement and (grand)child-rearing. After being laid off from her leadership role at a global ad agency in 2009, Bitter founded The Business of Aging, a firm that provides consulting, research and development for companies working to engage with older consumers.

She is also the publisher of GRAND Magazine, a digital lifestyle publication for grandparents.

A sought-after speaker, author, consultant and publisher, Bitter is an expert on trends in boomer marketing and older consumers. She is the author of The Grandparent Economy: How Baby Boomers are Bridging the Generation Gap, a book that synthesizes research from over 1,000 boomer grandparents to chart new trends in spending, engagement and (grand)child-rearing. After being laid off from her leadership role at a global ad agency in 2009, Bitter founded The Business of Aging, a firm that provides consulting, research and development for companies working to engage with older consumers.

She is also the publisher of GRAND Magazine, a digital lifestyle publication for grandparents.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“The gift of longevity has implications that we must address as a society. I believe ageism will dissipate when we live and work intergenerationally, with an understanding of the needs of every generation, and the impact we can have in each other’s lives. This isn’t a zero-sum game.”

Kathy Black
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Kathy Black: Creating Age-Friendly Cities

Professor of Aging Studies and Social Work, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee

Black, a Gerontological Society of America fellow, began her career in nursing. This background in health care gives Black a uniquely comprehensive perspective in her current academic work in gerontology, promoting healthy aging and planning for end-of-life care.

In addition to being a professor of aging studies and social work at the University of South Florida: Sarasota-Manatee, Black also leads a remarkable program: Age-Friendly Sarasota, an initiative that aims to promote healthy living and engagement for community members of all ages. The program, now in its second year, is a part of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities, one of 400 such communities worldwide.

Black, a Gerontological Society of America fellow, began her career in nursing. This background in health care gives Black a uniquely comprehensive perspective in her current academic work in gerontology, promoting healthy aging and planning for end-of-life care.

In addition to being a professor of aging studies and social work at the University of South Florida: Sarasota-Manatee, Black also leads a remarkable program: Age-Friendly Sarasota, an initiative that aims to promote healthy living and engagement for community members of all ages. The program, now in its second year, is a part of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities, one of 400 such communities worldwide.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“To adopt an 'age in everything' lens in the design and operationalization of all societal features, programs, policies and services that by default promotes active, healthy and engaged living and accommodates changing abilities across the life course for all.”  

Richard Browdie
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Richard Browdie: Leading Advocacy and Support for Older Adults

President and CEO of Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging

Browdie has spent 40 years advocating for the health and well-being of older adults. Prior to his current position as the president and CEO of the 100-year-old Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, Browdie served as the president of the American Society on Aging, the executive director of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Aging.

At Benjamin Rose, Browdie’s mission is to advance support for older adults and caregivers, engage in community advocacy and support research and education on aging.

Browdie has spent 40 years advocating for the health and well-being of older adults. Prior to his current position as the president and CEO of the 100-year-old Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, Browdie served as the president of the American Society on Aging, the executive director of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Aging.

At Benjamin Rose, Browdie’s mission is to advance support for older adults and caregivers, engage in community advocacy and support research and education on aging.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

"It is time for the U.S. to have an overarching strategy for using public resources at the local, state and national levels that assures taxpayers that all levels of government and the private sector play their appropriate roles efficiently and effectively."

Denise Brown
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Denise Brown: Pioneering Support for Caregivers

Owner and Founder of CareGiving.com

In 1996, Brown launched a groundbreaking new website: CareGiving.com, a forum designed to offer support for family caregivers. The goal was to provide a necessary resource so often lacking: Brown’s website was one of the first to offer practical, empathetic encouragement and advice for caregivers.

Today, the site has stayed true to its original mission — and expanded to offer webinars, chats, self-care plans, online events and art shows. In 2016, Brown produced the first National Caregiving Conference, as well as the new Certified Caregiving Consultant training program, aimed at helping family caregivers adapt their skills into a profession.

Brown, a prolific author, has written eight books on the subject of comfort, hope and caregiving.

In 1996, Brown launched a groundbreaking new website: CareGiving.com, a forum designed to offer support for family caregivers. The goal was to provide a necessary resource so often lacking: Brown’s website was one of the first to offer practical, empathetic encouragement and advice for caregivers.

Today, the site has stayed true to its original mission — and expanded to offer webinars, chats, self-care plans, online events and art shows. In 2016, Brown produced the first National Caregiving Conference, as well as the new Certified Caregiving Consultant training program, aimed at helping family caregivers adapt their skills into a profession.

Read More >

Brown, a prolific author, has written eight books on the subject of comfort, hope and caregiving.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Aging begins as an individual experience and then affects our families, communities, workplaces, houses of worship, health care system and economy. A collective experience demands collaboration between the impacted communities in order to improve the experience and outcomes for all.”

Susan Burton
Susan Burton
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Susan Burton

Susan Burton: Advocating for Women and Justice Reform

Author of 'Becoming Ms. Burton'

At 46, Burton had been in and out of jail for over a decade. The tragic death of her young son led Burton to addiction, and as she struggled to break out of the cycle of incarceration and poverty, she found herself at a crossroads. A job as a live-in caregiver offered her a lifeline and she saved enough money to buy a small house. Determined to stay sober and to help other women, Burton began inviting homeless female parolees into her home.

Twelve years later, Burton’s organization, A New Way of Life, serves hundreds of women who are rebuilding their lives after prison, providing legal aid, housing, food and career training. And Burton, a former Purpose Prize winner, has become a leading figure in the national movement for justice reform.

Burton tells her powerful story of recovery and reinvention in Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women.

At 46, Burton had been in and out of jail for over a decade. The tragic death of her young son led Burton to addiction, and as she struggled to break out of the cycle of incarceration and poverty, she found herself at a crossroads. A job as a live-in caregiver offered her a lifeline and she saved enough money to buy a small house. Determined to stay sober and to help other women, Burton began inviting homeless female parolees into her home.

Twelve years later, Burton’s organization, A New Way of Life, serves hundreds of women who are rebuilding their lives after prison, providing legal aid, housing, food and career training. And Burton, a former Purpose Prize winner, has become a leading figure in the national movement for justice reform.

Read More >

Burton tells her powerful story of recovery and reinvention in Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

"America’s aging elevates the heartbeat of America. I would refocus the perception about aging by shifting to the reality that aging is the next level of purpose and brilliance and encourage interactive engagement among the Millennials and the aging."

Amanda Cavaleri
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Amanda Cavaleri: Inspiring Intergenerational Connections

Founder and CEO of Connect The Ages

Cavaleri may be young, but she’s already making a big impact in the field of aging.

As the founder and CEO of Connect the Ages, Cavaleri’s goal is simple: to connect five million fellow Millennials and Generation Xers with meaningful careers in the field of aging by 2025. Cavaleri’s work weaves together the threads of aging advocacy, technology and intergenerational connection.

Her work has been honored with an AARP Strategy and Innovation Fellowship and has been featured in a TED Talk and on PBS NewsHour.

Cavaleri may be young, but she’s already making a big impact in the field of aging.

As the founder and CEO of Connect the Ages, Cavaleri’s goal is simple: to connect five million fellow Millennials and Generation Xers with meaningful careers in the field of aging by 2025. Cavaleri’s work weaves together the threads of aging advocacy, technology and intergenerational connection.

Read More >

Her work has been honored with an AARP Strategy and Innovation Fellowship and has been featured in a TED Talk and on PBS NewsHour.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“​If I could change one thing about aging in America, it would be to inspire my generation to experience the value of older generations.”

Henry Cisneros
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Henry Cisneros: Expanding Accessible Housing to Age in Place

CEO of CityView

As Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Mayor of San Antonio, Cisneros amassed decades of experience in housing, neighborhood and city planning. As the current CEO of the investment and development firm CityView, he advocates for a shift in the way we design our cities and homes, believing that simple adaptations to housing and neighborhood design could allow America’s booming 65+ population to “age in place,” remaining in their own homes and communities.

Cisneros also co-chairs the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission and Immigration Task Force, which produced the influential 2016 report Healthy Aging Begins at Home.

As Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Mayor of San Antonio, Cisneros amassed decades of experience in housing, neighborhood and city planning. As the current CEO of the investment and development firm CityView, he advocates for a shift in the way we design our cities and homes, believing that simple adaptations to housing and neighborhood design could allow America’s booming 65+ population to “age in place,” remaining in their own homes and communities.

Cisneros also co-chairs the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission and Immigration Task Force, which produced the influential 2016 report Healthy Aging Begins at Home.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I would assure that every older American has a place to live that is appropriate to his or her phase of aging: safe, clean, affordable, comfortable to live in, welcoming for socializing and suitable for resting, gathering strength and restoring health.”

Dr. Pinchas Cohen
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Dr. Pinchas Cohen: Personalizing Aging Through Research

Dean at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology

Dr. Cohen is a champion of “personalized aging” — a nuanced approach to aging that takes individual characteristics into account to customize treatment with precisely tailored health recommendations. As a physician, the dean of the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and the executive director of the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California, Cohen is one of the world’s leading scientists on the biology of aging. He has authored hundreds of articles on health and aging, and his work has won many awards, including a National Institute of Aging EUREKA Award.

At USC Davis, Cohen is leading several new initiatives to translate his research on personalized aging into tangible health benefits for older Americans, including the development of a new center for digital aging.

Dr. Cohen is a champion of “personalized aging” — a nuanced approach to aging that takes individual characteristics into account to customize treatment with precisely tailored health recommendations. As a physician, the dean of the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and the executive director of the Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California, Cohen is one of the world’s leading scientists on the biology of aging. He has authored hundreds of articles on health and aging, and his work has won many awards, including a National Institute of Aging EUREKA Award.

At USC Davis, Cohen is leading several new initiatives to translate his research on personalized aging into tangible health benefits for older Americans, including the development of a new center for digital aging.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“None of us ages in the same way. Recognizing our individuality through genetic and environmental perspectives can provide opportunities for better preventive solutions that are specifically tailored to preserving each person’s wellness. Through science, scholarship and service, we can work toward a 'personalized aging' approach that ensures everyone can age to his or her unique maximal potential.”

Anne Colby
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Anne Colby: Finding Purpose Beyond the Self

Consulting Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Education

How do older adults find purpose in later life? Colby, a Stanford consulting professor, is the lead author of a collaborative $1.8 million study with Encore.org that aims to answer this question. The study, Pathways to Purpose in the Encore Years, was inspired by evidence of widespread untapped potential — while studies show that older people with a strong sense of purpose beyond the self tend to live longer, happier and healthier lives, relatively few report that they have been able to find this kind of meaningful, purposeful engagement.

Colby holds a doctorate from Columbia, and her extensive experience includes serving as the director of the Henry Murray Research Center at Harvard, as well as authoring several critically acclaimed books. Early results from the study point to promising opportunities to engage older adults in purposeful, fulfilling action.

How do older adults find purpose in later life? Colby, a Stanford consulting professor, is the lead author of a collaborative $1.8 million study with Encore.org that aims to answer this question. The study, Pathways to Purpose in the Encore Years, was inspired by evidence of widespread untapped potential — while studies show that older people with a strong sense of purpose beyond the self tend to live longer, happier and healthier lives, relatively few report that they have been able to find this kind of meaningful, purposeful engagement.

Colby holds a doctorate from Columbia, and her extensive experience includes serving as the director of the Henry Murray Research Center at Harvard, as well as authoring several critically acclaimed books. Early results from the study point to promising opportunities to engage older adults in purposeful, fulfilling action.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I would like to see the culture shift to viewing older adults as fully contributing participants in the life of their communities. And I’d like for older people themselves to realize the fulfillment that comes from remaining engaged throughout life.”

Yanira Cruz
Yanira Cruz
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Yanira Cruz

Yanira Cruz: Advocating for Hispanic Public Health

President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging

Cruz has become known for her quiet, powerful leadership in the field of aging and public health. As the president and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), Cruz advocates for Hispanic elders, particularly immigrants and those with low income.

Prior to serving in her current leadership position at NHCOA, Cruz was the director of the Institute for Hispanic Health at the National Council of La Raza, where she spearheaded many public health campaigns to improve the lives of Latinos.

Cruz has become known for her quiet, powerful leadership in the field of aging and public health. As the president and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), Cruz advocates for Hispanic elders, particularly immigrants and those with low income.

Prior to serving in her current leadership position at NHCOA, Cruz was the director of the Institute for Hispanic Health at the National Council of La Raza, where she spearheaded many public health campaigns to improve the lives of Latinos.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Family is at the heart of Hispanic communities and caregiving is often done willingly. The one thing I would change about aging is the stigma. Many Americans view aging as a burden, not acknowledging our elders’ knowledge and experiences.”

Tim Driver
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Tim Driver: Matching Job Seekers With Age-Friendly Opportunities

Founder of RetirementJobs.com

Driver is the founder and CEO of two companies: MatureCaregivers.com, and RetirementJobs.com, which is a site that matches jobs and resources to people over 50. That website includes a useful new feature: employer reviews by existing employees who rate the “age-friendliness” of various companies — a sort of Yelp for older job seekers.

Driver’s work as an innovator in 50+ career building has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, USA Today and Next Avenue.

Driver is the founder and CEO of two companies: MatureCaregivers.com, and RetirementJobs.com, which is a site that matches jobs and resources to people over 50. That website includes a useful new feature: employer reviews by existing employees who rate the “age-friendliness” of various companies — a sort of Yelp for older job seekers.

Driver’s work as an innovator in 50+ career building has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, USA Today and Next Avenue.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Americans are working longer, moving toward last century’s levels. This a win-win-win: For our country: productivity, growth. For employers: low-turnover workers generating satisfied customers.  For older citizens: Purpose, health, engagement, income. Yet most American workplaces still aren’t age friendly. I’d like to see that change.”

Rabbi Laura Geller
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Rabbi Laura Geller: Building an Intergenerational Village

Emerita Rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills

In 1976, when Geller was ordained, she was just the third woman in the Reform Movement to become a rabbi, and the first to be chosen to lead a synagogue in a major metropolitan area. Today, Geller is an Emerita Rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, where she works toward a revolutionary vision: creating an intergenerational “village” to allow older adults to “age in place” in their own homes with the support of a loving and interdependent community. This community, ChaiVillageLA, currently has 180 members ranging in age from 55 to 95.

Geller has been named one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America twice and is the co-author of the forthcoming book, Getting Good at Getting Older.

In 1976, when Geller was ordained, she was just the third woman in the Reform Movement to become a rabbi, and the first to be chosen to lead a synagogue in a major metropolitan area. Today, Geller is an Emerita Rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, where she works toward a revolutionary vision: creating an intergenerational “village” to allow older adults to “age in place” in their own homes with the support of a loving and interdependent community. This community, ChaiVillageLA, currently has 180 members ranging in age from 55 to 95.

Geller has been named one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America twice and is the co-author of the forthcoming book, Getting Good at Getting Older.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I would encourage the creation of religious and secular rituals to mark transitions in the journey of growing older, whether closing a family home, becoming a grandparent, reaffirming marital vows, sharing ethical wills or beginning new adventures. Marking transformations provide spiritual and practical guides for growth, connection and wise aging.”

Ellen Goodman
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Ellen Goodman: Leading the End-of-Life Conversation

Founder of The Conversation Project

A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author, Goodman is the founder of The Conversation Project, an organization devoted to a simple revolutionary idea: making sure every person’s end-of-life wishes are expressed and understood by their loved ones. Goodman’s goal is to remove the stigma that prevents families from having honest conversations about dying, and The Conversation Project offers multilingual “starter kits” to do just that.

In addition to being featured on PBS NewsHour and Next Avenue, Goodman’s work is also highlighted in her 2014 TED Talk.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author, Goodman is the founder of The Conversation Project, an organization devoted to a simple revolutionary idea: making sure every person’s end-of-life wishes are expressed and understood by their loved ones. Goodman’s goal is to remove the stigma that prevents families from having honest conversations about dying, and The Conversation Project offers multilingual “starter kits” to do just that.

In addition to being featured on PBS NewsHour and Next Avenue, Goodman’s work is also highlighted in her 2014 TED Talk.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I would transform the image of older Americans from 'the problem' to 'the problem solvers.' The stereotype of us as an unmitigated burden must finally give way to a vision of purposeful elders using wisdom and experience to enrich society.”

Jody Holtzman
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Jody Holtzman: Driving 50+ Innovation

Senior Vice President of Market Innovation at AARP

For over 10 years, Holtzman has worked to create programs that spark innovation and entrepreneurship for Americans over 50. As senior vice president of market innovation at AARP, Holtzman runs [email protected]+ LivePitch, a series of events featuring emerging startups from around the world that focus on innovation for the 50+ market. He is also known for his influential work on what he calls the “Longevity Economy” — economic activity driven by the needs of Americans 50 and older. In his research on the Longevity Economy, Holtzman found that this market generates an astounding $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity.

For over 10 years, Holtzman has worked to create programs that spark innovation and entrepreneurship for Americans over 50. As senior vice president of market innovation at AARP, Holtzman runs [email protected]+ LivePitch, a series of events featuring emerging startups from around the world that focus on innovation for the 50+ market. He is also known for his influential work on what he calls the “Longevity Economy” — economic activity driven by the needs of Americans 50 and older. In his research on the Longevity Economy, Holtzman found that this market generates an astounding $7.6 trillion in annual economic activity.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Aging in America must change from its focus on cost and financial burden to opportunity, in recognition of the true value older Americans contribute to innovation and the economy, to our families and communities, to society and America’s future.”

Dave Hughes
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Dave Hughes: Helping LGBT People Plan for a Fabulous Retirement

Author and founder of RetireFabulously.com

Hughes firmly believes that what you envision can help shape your future retirement — if you plan for retirement years that are vibrant and fulfilling, they will be. As the founder of Retire Fabulously!, Hughes writes about the journey toward achieving a happy, healthy retirement from the perspective of the LGBT community.

His book, Design Your Dream Retirement, offers a blueprint for how to envision and plan for the happiest retirement possible. In addition to his work as a writer and speaker, Hughes is also an ordained wedding officiant and jazz trombonist.

Hughes firmly believes that what you envision can help shape your future retirement — if you plan for retirement years that are vibrant and fulfilling, they will be. As the founder of Retire Fabulously!, Hughes writes about the journey toward achieving a happy, healthy retirement from the perspective of the LGBT community.

His book, Design Your Dream Retirement, offers a blueprint for how to envision and plan for the happiest retirement possible. In addition to his work as a writer and speaker, Hughes is also an ordained wedding officiant and jazz trombonist.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I believe the service providers to America’s aging population needs to improve their diversity competence, especially for LGBT people and ethnic minorities. Everything from active adult communities to nursing homes can be unwelcoming for those who aren’t straight and white.”

Sally Hurme
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Sally Hurme: Fighting For Guardianship Reform

Author and Elder Law Attorney

For decades, Hurme has been a leader in the fields of elder law and guardianship reform. In her 20-year career at AARP, Hurme, an attorney, authored over 20 law review articles on the subject of elder law. She is a longtime member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, sits on the board of trustees for the Center for Guardianship Certification and has spent nearly 30 years as a member of the National Guardianship Association.

In addition to her considerable expertise as a scholar and advocate, Hurme possesses another rare skill — the ability to make sense of complex legal issues for the layperson. She is the author of AARP’s popular “Checklist” series, including her new book, Get the Most Out of Retirement: Checklist for Happiness, Health, Purpose and Financial Security.

For decades, Hurme has been a leader in the fields of elder law and guardianship reform. In her 20-year career at AARP, Hurme, an attorney, authored over 20 law review articles on the subject of elder law. She is a longtime member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, sits on the board of trustees for the Center for Guardianship Certification and has spent nearly 30 years as a member of the National Guardianship Association.

In addition to her considerable expertise as a scholar and advocate, Hurme possesses another rare skill — the ability to make sense of complex legal issues for the layperson. She is the author of AARP’s popular “Checklist” series, including her new book, Get the Most Out of Retirement: Checklist for Happiness, Health, Purpose and Financial Security.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“We need to work harder on accentuating the positives of aging. We should honor the wisdom and experience that we continue to contribute. Let’s celebrate the vitality we add to society.”

Elizabeth Isele
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Elizabeth Isele: Inspiring Entrepreneurship After 50

Founder and CEO at Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship

Isele is the founder and CEO of the Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship (GIEE), an organization that supports entrepreneurship among people over 50 across the globe. Isele aims to build what she calls an “Experienced Economy,” inspiring and training older people to become successful innovators and business owners. Prior to founding GIEE, Isele founded eProvStudio and Senior Entrepreneurship Works, organizations that helped train people over 50 to start their own businesses.

Isele’s work engaging older entrepreneurs has been widely recognized. She is a Senior Social Innovation Fellow at Babson College and has advised the Obama administration, the Clinton Global Initiative, the EU Commission on Entrepreneurship, the U.N. and several world summit conferences. She has written extensively about innovation and entrepreneurship for Next Avenue.

Isele is the founder and CEO of the Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship (GIEE), an organization that supports entrepreneurship among people over 50 across the globe. Isele aims to build what she calls an “Experienced Economy,” inspiring and training older people to become successful innovators and business owners. Prior to founding GIEE, Isele founded eProvStudio and Senior Entrepreneurship Works, organizations that helped train people over 50 to start their own businesses.

Isele’s work engaging older entrepreneurs has been widely recognized. She is a Senior Social Innovation Fellow at Babson College and has advised the Obama administration, the Clinton Global Initiative, the EU Commission on Entrepreneurship, the U.N. and several world summit conferences. She has written extensively about innovation and entrepreneurship for Next Avenue.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Senior entrepreneurship thrives. Empowered with experience, Seniors are eager to explore and act on new ideas for their lives, workplace and business startups. More Experience Incubators® are needed to help translate deep experience into 'Cutting Edge Common Sense' solutions. All ages benefit.”

Julene Johnson
Julene Johnson
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Julene Johnson

Julene Johnson: Embracing Music’s Power

Professor and Associate Director at the UCSF Institute for Health & Aging

In her innovative work as a cognitive neuroscientist, Johnson focuses on developing community-based programs that use music to promote health among increasingly diverse older Americans. Johnson is a professor and the associate director for the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, and she is Interim Associate Dean of Research at the UCSF School of Nursing. In 2010, she earned a Fulbright scholarship to Finland to study the effects of participation in choral music. In Finland, she found that music is a key component in the lives of older adults, where it even functions as a political force that allows Finnish singers to work toward common goals.

Johnson’s most recent project, Community of Voices, is a large collaborative research study that aims to discover the impact of choir involvement on cognitive function, strength and emotional well being for older adults. The research was featured in this Next Avenue story.

In her innovative work as a cognitive neuroscientist, Johnson focuses on developing community-based programs that use music to promote health among increasingly diverse older Americans. Johnson is a professor and the associate director for the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, and she is Interim Associate Dean of Research at the UCSF School of Nursing. In 2010, she earned a Fulbright scholarship to Finland to study the effects of participation in choral music. In Finland, she found that music is a key component in the lives of older adults, where it even functions as a political force that allows Finnish singers to work toward common goals.

Johnson’s most recent project, Community of Voices, is a large collaborative research study that aims to discover the impact of choir involvement on cognitive function, strength and emotional well being for older adults. The research was featured in this Next Avenue story.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I would make the arts accessible and ubiquitous in all communities to cultivate and inspire creativity. This could help make the experience of aging more meaningful and change 'age old' stereotypes of what is possible.”

Vasundhara Kalasapudi
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Vasundhara Kalasapudi: Serving Older South Asians

Executive Director of India Home

Dr. Kalasapudi trained as a physician, becoming an expert on geriatric psychiatry. Early in her career, she couldn’t have predicted that she would one day use her expertise in neurological disorders to diagnose her own father, who developed dementia in 2003.

Living in the United States as a young physician, Kalasapudi traveled several times a year to care for her father in India, and became acutely aware of the lack of culturally appropriate services and care facilities for older South Asians in the United States.

So she decided to do something about it. Kalasapudi founded India Home, a revolutionary nonprofit that serves elderly South Asians in New York City. India Home provides food, health care, social support and advocacy rooted in strong South Asian values. Under Kalasapudi’s leadership as president and executive director, the organization has grown to serve hundreds of older South Asian adults.

Dr. Kalasapudi trained as a physician, becoming an expert on geriatric psychiatry. Early in her career, she couldn’t have predicted that she would one day use her expertise in neurological disorders to diagnose her own father, who developed dementia in 2003.

Living in the United States as a young physician, Kalasapudi traveled several times a year to care for her father in India, and became acutely aware of the lack of culturally appropriate services and care facilities for older South Asians in the United States.

Read More >

So she decided to do something about it. Kalasapudi founded India Home, a revolutionary nonprofit that serves elderly South Asians in New York City. India Home provides food, health care, social support and advocacy rooted in strong South Asian values. Under Kalasapudi’s leadership as president and executive director, the organization has grown to serve hundreds of older South Asian adults.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I would advocate to better integrate social and medical services for older adults. Senior centers are integral institutions to help Americans age in place and prevent or delay many health issues, but medical professionals are unaware of such social services.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar
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Sen. Amy Klobuchar: Championing Family Caregiving

Minnesota Senator

Minnesota’s first female Senator, a Democrat, is used to breaking glass ceilings. When her daughter was born with a serious medical condition, the Yale graduate and former corporate lawyer testified before the Minnesota legislature (alongside six pregnant friends), arguing for better postpartum care. In the end, she successfully lobbied Minnesota to pass one of the first laws in the country guaranteeing new mothers and their infants a 48-hour hospital stay to recover from childbirth.

In the Senate, Klobuchar has worked tirelessly to protect older Americans, introducing or co-sponsoring legislation to improve guardianship, fight elder abuse and to provide family caregiver tax credits. She recently appeared on the CNN Town Hall program about health care in America and reforming The Affordable Care Act.

Minnesota’s first female Senator, a Democrat, is used to breaking glass ceilings. When her daughter was born with a serious medical condition, the Yale graduate and former corporate lawyer testified before the Minnesota legislature (alongside six pregnant friends), arguing for better postpartum care. In the end, she successfully lobbied Minnesota to pass one of the first laws in the country guaranteeing new mothers and their infants a 48-hour hospital stay to recover from childbirth.

In the Senate, Klobuchar has worked tirelessly to protect older Americans, introducing or co-sponsoring legislation to improve guardianship, fight elder abuse and to provide family caregiver tax credits. She recently appeared on the CNN Town Hall program about health care in America and reforming The Affordable Care Act.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Americans deserve dignity in their senior years — that includes affordable health care and retirement security. We need to work hard — and work together — to reduce prescription drug costs, find cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s and make it easier to enjoy retirement.”

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
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Risa Lavizzo-Mourey: Championing Health Equity

Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor, University of Pennsylvania

For 14 years, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey served as the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest philanthropic public health foundation. As a Harvard-educated physician and professor, Lavizzo-Mourey has 30 years of experience in geriatrics, public policy and social change.

As a doctor, she was known for her hands-on approach, thoughtfully working to create caregiving teams that best served her patients. At RWJF, she was a powerful voice for accessible health care for all. In 2018, Lavizzo-Mourey will join the University of Pennsylvania as a Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor.

For 14 years, Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey served as the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest philanthropic public health foundation. As a Harvard-educated physician and professor, Lavizzo-Mourey has 30 years of experience in geriatrics, public policy and social change.

As a doctor, she was known for her hands-on approach, thoughtfully working to create caregiving teams that best served her patients. At RWJF, she was a powerful voice for accessible health care for all. In 2018, Lavizzo-Mourey will join the University of Pennsylvania as a Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Aging in America would be better if every community valued its elders and demonstrated it by enacting policies and practices that foster housing, social connections and services as well as health enhancing services that enable elders to be integrated into the community for life.

Nancy LeaMond
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Nancy LeaMond: Making Older Adults a Political Priority

Executive Vice President, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer at AARP

Before she joined AARP’s executive team, LeaMond had already amassed a lengthy and impressive career in politics, serving in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Department of Education and as president of the Congressional Economic Leadership Institute. At AARP, LeaMond lobbies for the organization’s social mission, leading a team of hundreds to make support for family caregivers a national political priority.

For LeaMond, the work is personal — she and her sons serve as caregivers for her husband, who has ALS.

During her time at AARP, she has led several nationwide campaigns lobbying for the needs of older Americans, including the Take a Stand campaign, Health Action Now and Divided We Fail.

Before she joined AARP’s executive team, LeaMond had already amassed a lengthy and impressive career in politics, serving in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Department of Education and as president of the Congressional Economic Leadership Institute. At AARP, LeaMond lobbies for the organization’s social mission, leading a team of hundreds to make support for family caregivers a national political priority.

For LeaMond, the work is personal — she and her sons serve as caregivers for her husband, who has ALS.

Read More >

During her time at AARP, she has led several nationwide campaigns lobbying for the needs of older Americans, including the Take a Stand campaign, Health Action Now and Divided We Fail.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Leaders of organizations and communities as well as families need to think about and act on the changes that are necessary in a society where the vast majority of people are older. A special challenge falls to our national leaders. They must come together across parties and ideologies to update and strengthen the economic lifelines of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

Eunice Lin Nichols
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Eunice Lin Nichols: Connecting Older and Younger Generations

Campaign Director for Encore.org's Generation to Generation

As the director of the Encore.org Generation to Generation campaign, Nichols spearheads a nationwide initiative to mobilize over one million 50+ Americans to volunteer and work with needy children. These connections don’t just benefit children — they benefit the older generation as well. In fact, research has shown that people who volunteer live longer, healthier and happier lives.

Before launching the Generation to Generation campaign, Nichols led The Purpose Prize, an annual award created by Encore.org for social entrepreneurs over 60.

As the director of the Encore.org Generation to Generation campaign, Nichols spearheads a nationwide initiative to mobilize over one million 50+ Americans to volunteer and work with needy children. These connections don’t just benefit children — they benefit the older generation as well. In fact, research has shown that people who volunteer live longer, healthier and happier lives.

Before launching the Generation to Generation campaign, Nichols led The Purpose Prize, an annual award created by Encore.org for social entrepreneurs over 60.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I want to live in a society where older generations standing up for kids is the norm — where young people view aging differently because older generations are living their legacy, making the world a better place for all.”

Karen Lincoln
Karen Lincoln
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Karen Lincoln

Karen Lincoln: Advocating for African-American Health

Associate Professor at Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, University of Southern California; Founder of Advocates for African American Elders

In addition to her position as an associate professor and director of the USC Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatric Social Work, Lincoln is also the founder and chair of Advocates for African-American Elders (AAAE).

AAAE’s mission echoes Lincoln’s passion: providing advocacy and support for the needs of older African-American adults. Lincoln has written extensively about the unique health challenges faced by African-Americans and other minority groups in the United States and is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America.

In addition to her position as an associate professor and director of the USC Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatric Social Work, Lincoln is also the founder and chair of Advocates for African-American Elders (AAAE).

AAAE’s mission echoes Lincoln’s passion: providing advocacy and support for the needs of older African-American adults. Lincoln has written extensively about the unique health challenges faced by African-Americans and other minority groups in the United States and is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“It should be inconceivable that any person is poor or homeless during their older adult years. Aging should be integrated into every discussion of social and economic policy, including health care, housing, race, poverty, education, government and human services.”

Wesley Lum
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Wesley Lum: Advocating for AAPI Elders

President and CEO of the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging

As the president and CEO of the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, Lum has devoted his career to advocating for the unique needs of aging Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations. Lum is helping to spearhead a $1.15 million federal grant program to expand access to aging resources to the enormously diverse and multilingual older adults who make up the AAPI community.

Building on his background in public health and public policy, Lum champions a “person-centered planning” approach to support AAPI elders. He is also a member of the Diverse Elders Coalition, where he writes about aging and public policy.

As the president and CEO of the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, Lum has devoted his career to advocating for the unique needs of aging Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations. Lum is helping to spearhead a $1.15 million federal grant program to expand access to aging resources to the enormously diverse and multilingual older adults who make up the AAPI community.

Building on his background in public health and public policy, Lum champions a “person-centered planning” approach to support AAPI elders. He is also a member of the Diverse Elders Coalition, where he writes about aging and public policy.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“As gerontologists, I would reinvent ourselves to become savvy revenue generators, because in doing so, it will give us the freedom to lead, create, advocate, serve and to do the other amazing work that we are passionately driven to do.”

Sandy Markwood
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Sandy Markwood: Heading a Nationwide Network to Support Seniors

CEO of National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

As the CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Markwood oversees a national network of 622 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). These agencies serve as local leaders in aging and community living, providing services and support to older adults nationwide. Services that AAAs provide include everything from nutrition, housing, caregiving support, health and wellness and transportation. These key support systems can make the difference between vulnerability and stability for countless Americans in later life.

Markwood has spent more than 30 years of her career being involved in the development and delivery of aging and human services. She is an advocate for older Americans and has made a rallying cry for swift change to help accommodate a booming older population: “From a planning perspective, putting in place things like infrastructure and transportation services takes time,” Markwood told Reuters in a 2014 story. “We don’t have the luxury of time here.”

As the CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Markwood oversees a national network of 622 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). These agencies serve as local leaders in aging and community living, providing services and support to older adults nationwide. Services that AAAs provide include everything from nutrition, housing, caregiving support, health and wellness and transportation. These key support systems can make the difference between vulnerability and stability for countless Americans in later life.

Markwood has spent more than 30 years of her career being involved in the development and delivery of aging and human services. She is an advocate for older Americans and has made a rallying cry for swift change to help accommodate a booming older population: “From a planning perspective, putting in place things like infrastructure and transportation services takes time,” Markwood told Reuters in a 2014 story. “We don’t have the luxury of time here.”

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Every American should have the right to age successfully where they want to — in their home and community.  Our aging nation demands that we make a commitment to and  invest in making home and community-based aging services a national priority.“

Lisa Massena
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Lisa Massena: Bridging the Retirement Savings Gap

Executive Director at OregonSaves

As executive director of the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan, Massena oversees one of the nation’s most innovative solutions to the retirement savings crisis: OregonSaves, the first state-sponsored retirement plan for workers who don’t have retirement savings options through their employment. Before the program launched, over 1 million Oregonians — more than half the workforce in Oregon — lacked access to retirement savings through their work. This changed in July, when OregonSaves went into effect and began providing an accessible, workplace-based retirement option for working Oregonians.

Massena has co-founded two consulting firms, Lambert Massena and Arnerich Massena, bringing years of financial services and investment experience to her current role.

As executive director of the Oregon Retirement Savings Plan, Massena oversees one of the nation’s most innovative solutions to the retirement savings crisis: OregonSaves, the first state-sponsored retirement plan for workers who don’t have retirement savings options through their employment. Before the program launched, over 1 million Oregonians — more than half the workforce in Oregon — lacked access to retirement savings through their work. This changed in July, when OregonSaves went into effect and began providing an accessible, workplace-based retirement option for working Oregonians.

Massena has co-founded two consulting firms, Lambert Massena and Arnerich Massena, bringing years of financial services and investment experience to her current role.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I’m loving being over 50 — it’s a very creative, satisfying, wonderfully challenging time — I’d love to see everyone in America similarly positioned to enjoy 'the second half' — in good health, with a strong sense of financial security and with appreciation on all of our parts for the wisdom, relationships and opportunity that age brings. I would change our ability to be financially ready to enjoy 50+.”

Marc Miller
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Marc Miller: Providing a Way to Pivot for Career Reinvention

Founder of Career Pivot

Before he founded Career Pivot, an award-winning website dedicated to career coaching and consulting for boomers, Miller “wandered in the career desert” for 30 years. As an engineer, fundraiser and inner-city math teacher, Miller learned that most people were “wandering” too — searching for their true vocation and unsure about how to translate their core passions into career opportunities.

In his current role as a career design expert, Miller is a writer, speaker, consultant, and the author of Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life.

Before he founded Career Pivot, an award-winning website dedicated to career coaching and consulting for boomers, Miller “wandered in the career desert” for 30 years. As an engineer, fundraiser and inner-city math teacher, Miller learned that most people were “wandering” too — searching for their true vocation and unsure about how to translate their core passions into career opportunities.

In his current role as a career design expert, Miller is a writer, speaker, consultant, and the author of Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

"When hiring decisions are being made, I would like the evaluations to be based on skills, talents and abilities alone.  In essence, I would like all hiring managers to put on their 'generational blinders' throughout the hiring process."

Brent Neiser
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Brent Neiser: Helping Older Americans Save for Retirement

Senior Director of Strategic Programs and Alliances, National Endowment for Financial Education

At the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), where he serves as senior director of strategic programs and alliances, Neiser helped create MyRetirementPaycheck, an innovative consumer website designed to help older Americans make sound financial decisions for their retirement — and for all stages of life.

In addition to Neiser’s public policy work at NEFE, his accomplishments include testifying before Congress, developing the first Personal Economic Summit in Washington D.C. to address financial illiteracy, working on financial advisory councils under two presidents and winning the Financial Planning Association’s Heart of Financial Planning Award in 2010.

At the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), where he serves as senior director of strategic programs and alliances, Neiser helped create MyRetirementPaycheck, an innovative consumer website designed to help older Americans make sound financial decisions for their retirement — and for all stages of life.

In addition to Neiser’s public policy work at NEFE, his accomplishments include testifying before Congress, developing the first Personal Economic Summit in Washington D.C. to address financial illiteracy, working on financial advisory councils under two presidents and winning the Financial Planning Association’s Heart of Financial Planning Award in 2010.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Create a multigenerational 'saving' culture where people confidently sequence and act on financial decisions in all stages of life.  Decisions that help them handle financial shocks — by saving for emergencies, college/skills training, housing, debt management/reduction, entrepreneurial and retirement opportunities.”

Sheila Nevins
Sheila Nevins
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Sheila Nevins

Sheila Nevins: Speaking the Truth in Film and Print

HBO Documentary Film President and Legendary Producer

At 78, Nevins is a powerhouse in the film industry who has produced over a thousand documentary films for HBO, where she serves as the president of documentary films. Her productions have earned dozens of Emmy, Peabody and Academy Awards, and Nevins herself has won 32 Primetime Emmy Awards — more than any other individual.

In her 2017 book, You Don’t Look Your Age … and Other Fairy Tales, Nevins tackles the topic of aging with humor, grace and frank poignancy. The book traces Nevins’ ascension to the pinnacle of her field, weaving in personal narratives that tackle the unspoken truths of aging.

At 78, Nevins is a powerhouse in the film industry who has produced over a thousand documentary films for HBO, where she serves as the president of documentary films. Her productions have earned dozens of Emmy, Peabody and Academy Awards, and Nevins herself has won 32 Primetime Emmy Awards — more than any other individual.

In her 2017 book, You Don’t Look Your Age … and Other Fairy Tales, Nevins tackles the topic of aging with humor, grace and frank poignancy. The book traces Nevins’ ascension to the pinnacle of her field, weaving in personal narratives that tackle the unspoken truths of aging.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

An excerpt on aging from her book, You Don't Look Your Age ... and Other Fairy Tales: The secret is I don't want to say goodbye. I don't think it's fair to have worked so hard and given up so much to not have more time. If they can make a car without a driver, why can't they make a me that goes on? So that's the secret. I'm angry that it's almost over, just when I understand I've just begun.

Maura O’Malley
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Maura O’Malley: Making the Arts Accessible

CEO and Co-Founder of Lifetime Arts

O’Malley is the co-founder and CEO of Lifetime Arts, an organization that creates opportunities for older adults to engage with the arts. Ten years in, Lifetime Arts currently collaborates with 20 different library programs in 13 states to bring creative and immersive art classes to people 55 and older.

With more than 30 years of experience in arts education, program design and policy, O’Malley combines a lifelong interest in making the arts accessible to all ages with her experience as a caregiver for aging relatives. Connecting arts education to community libraries proved to be a crucial link to provide older adults new opportunities for high-quality, accessible artistic education.

O’Malley is the co-founder and CEO of Lifetime Arts, an organization that creates opportunities for older adults to engage with the arts. Ten years in, Lifetime Arts currently collaborates with 20 different library programs in 13 states to bring creative and immersive art classes to people 55 and older.

With more than 30 years of experience in arts education, program design and policy, O’Malley combines a lifelong interest in making the arts accessible to all ages with her experience as a caregiver for aging relatives. Connecting arts education to community libraries proved to be a crucial link to provide older adults new opportunities for high-quality, accessible artistic education.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I'd like to help change the perception that aging is something to be afraid of or avoided. Community based arts programming would bring generations together as creators and learners. Efforts to 'combat' aging would disappear — along with ageism.”

Laurie Orlov
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Laurie Orlov: Finding Tech Solutions for Healthy Aging

Founder and Principal Analyst, Aging in Place Technology Watch

Orlov is a writer, speaker and elder care advocate who has provided specialized technology industry analysis for a number of Fortune 500 companies. She is the founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch, a market research firm devoted to providing cutting-edge research and analysis about new technologies that allow older adults to stay in their homes for as long as possible — “aging in place” in the comfort and ease of their own environments.

Orlov‘s work in the older adult technology market has been featured in a long list of top-tier publications, from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal.

Orlov is a writer, speaker and elder care advocate who has provided specialized technology industry analysis for a number of Fortune 500 companies. She is the founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch, a market research firm devoted to providing cutting-edge research and analysis about new technologies that allow older adults to stay in their homes for as long as possible — “aging in place” in the comfort and ease of their own environments.

Orlov‘s work in the older adult technology market has been featured in a long list of top-tier publications, from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“The aging-related ecosystem of nonprofits and for-profits needs to morph into a commercial ecosystem in which health and aging services form time-limited partnerships to generate income for participants. This would inject a level of urgency that is lacking today.”

Jaia Peterson Lent
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Jaia Peterson Lent: Speaking Out for Grandfamilies

Deputy Executive Director for Generations United

Lent is a leading advocate for “grandfamilies” — families headed by grandparents or other extended relatives. In her role as deputy executive director at Generations United, an organization devoted to intergenerational collaboration, Lent lobbies for legislation aimed at meeting the specific needs of these non-traditional families.

Among her many accomplishments: testifying before Congress about the impact of the opioid epidemic on grandfamilies and coordinating national “GrandRallies” that bring grandparents and their families to Capitol Hill.

Lent is a leading advocate for “grandfamilies” — families headed by grandparents or other extended relatives. In her role as deputy executive director at Generations United, an organization devoted to intergenerational collaboration, Lent lobbies for legislation aimed at meeting the specific needs of these non-traditional families.

Among her many accomplishments: testifying before Congress about the impact of the opioid epidemic on grandfamilies and coordinating national “GrandRallies” that bring grandparents and their families to Capitol Hill.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“More than 2.5 million grandparents are raising grandchildren across the U.S., with little to no support, often spending down their retirement savings and putting aside their own needs to make sure the children thrive. They deserve to be celebrated and supported for providing safe, loving homes for our country’s babies, children and youth.”

Kevin Prindiville
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Kevin Prindiville: Fighting for Low-Income Older Americans

Executive Director of Justice in Aging

Before becoming the executive director of Justice in Aging, an organization that fights senior poverty, Prindiville led national class action suits to ensure access to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. A tireless legal advocate for low-income older Americans, he has worked for over a decade to ensure that they have access to health care, food and housing.

At Justice in Aging, Prindiville oversees the training of thousands of advocates and legal aid attorneys across the country on how to advocate for their clients.

Before becoming the executive director of Justice in Aging, an organization that fights senior poverty, Prindiville led national class action suits to ensure access to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. A tireless legal advocate for low-income older Americans, he has worked for over a decade to ensure that they have access to health care, food and housing.

At Justice in Aging, Prindiville oversees the training of thousands of advocates and legal aid attorneys across the country on how to advocate for their clients.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Too many older people in America go to bed hungry, don’t have a safe place to live or lack health care. Together we can create a country where we all have our basic needs met as we grow old.”

Jean Risley
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Jean Risley: Making the Most of Retirement

Author of 'How to Decide What to Do Next When You're Retired'

Risley’s book, How to Decide What to Do Next When You’re Retired, is based on her own experience. When Risley, a pioneering computer programmer and former Presbyterian minister, retired in 2015 at 70, she found herself at a crossroads. The number of options to consider was overwhelming and resources for how to navigate retirement were hard to come by. So Risley decided to create the very resource she’d been looking for —  an accessible guide to successfully navigating the enormous variety of options that retirees encounter.

Risley writes regularly for her website, and has been featured in Next Avenue.

Risley’s book, How to Decide What to Do Next When You’re Retired, is based on her own experience. When Risley, a pioneering computer programmer and former Presbyterian minister, retired in 2015 at 70, she found herself at a crossroads. The number of options to consider was overwhelming and resources for how to navigate retirement were hard to come by. So Risley decided to create the very resource she’d been looking for —  an accessible guide to successfully navigating the enormous variety of options that retirees encounter.

Risley writes regularly for her website, and has been featured in Next Avenue.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

"If I could change one thing about aging, it is attitude. We who are aging should face it with confident control, making provisions for the obstacles, but consciously spending time, energy and attention on what is most meaningful to us."

Laura Robbins
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Laura Robbins: Changing the Aging Narrative

Principal, Laura A. Robbins Consulting (LARC)

Robbins serves as the consulting director of Reframing Aging, a project aimed at shifting long-held cultural assumptions about what aging looks like. It was launched with the research of the FrameWorks Institute and a host of big-name partners under the Leaders of Aging Organizations group moniker. Too often, negative images dominate messages about aging in the U.S. — focusing on deterioration and decline, rather than health and happiness. Robbins has worked to challenge these negative associations by introducing positive frames of empowerment, personal agency and hope to conversations about aging.

She has done this by leading the work on the Reframing Aging Toolkit, released in 2017, to teach and train people working in the field of aging how to speak about aging and ageism in a way that helps reshape the dominant narratives about growing older. Robbins’ lifetime of work in the aging field made her the perfect leader for the Reframing Aging project. Before she founded her consulting group, Robbins headed the U.S. Program on Aging for Atlantic Philanthropies, where she managed a $167 million grant portfolio.  

Robbins serves as the consulting director of Reframing Aging, a project aimed at shifting long-held cultural assumptions about what aging looks like. It was launched with the research of the FrameWorks Institute and a host of big-name partners under the Leaders of Aging Organizations group moniker. Too often, negative images dominate messages about aging in the U.S. — focusing on deterioration and decline, rather than health and happiness. Robbins has worked to challenge these negative associations by introducing positive frames of empowerment, personal agency and hope to conversations about aging.

She has done this by leading the work on the Reframing Aging Toolkit, released in 2017, to teach and train people working in the field of aging how to speak about aging and ageism in a way that helps reshape the dominant narratives about growing older. Robbins’ lifetime of work in the aging field made her the perfect leader for the Reframing Aging project. Before she founded her consulting group, Robbins headed the U.S. Program on Aging for Atlantic Philanthropies, where she managed a $167 million grant portfolio.  

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I envision older people playing an integral role in society, and living healthier, independent lives of dignity and meaning. By collaborating, these people and aging field leaders, together with those of other generations, can make this vision a reality.”

Kathryn Roberts
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Kathryn Roberts: Innovating for Older Americans

President and CEO at Ecumen

In her long and distinguished career in public service, Roberts is one of just a handful of people who can claim the distinction of having been appointed to leadership positions by governors who span the ideological spectrum: Republican, Democrat and Independent. Today, as president and CEO of Ecumen, a Minnesota-based nonprofit housing provider, Roberts has leveraged her years of expertise to transform the company into an innovative support system for older adults. Among the company’s groundbreaking initiatives is a program called “Awakenings,” which aims to reduce the use of antipsychotic medications in Alzheimer’s patients.

Roberts also serves as the current board chair of LeadingAge, a national association for nonprofit aging services providers.

In her long and distinguished career in public service, Roberts is one of just a handful of people who can claim the distinction of having been appointed to leadership positions by governors who span the ideological spectrum: Republican, Democrat and Independent. Today, as president and CEO of Ecumen, a Minnesota-based nonprofit housing provider, Roberts has leveraged her years of expertise to transform the company into an innovative support system for older adults. Among the company’s groundbreaking initiatives is a program called “Awakenings,” which aims to reduce the use of antipsychotic medications in Alzheimer’s patients.

Roberts also serves as the current board chair of LeadingAge, a national association for nonprofit aging services providers.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“The most important thing we can do to improve aging is to end social isolation. The research is stunning: Social isolation kills the spirit, impairs health and contributes to mortality. Help us end social isolation. No one should age alone!”

Lawrence Samuel
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Lawrence Samuel: Reclaiming the 'Third Act of Life'

Founder of Boomers 3.0

Samuel predicts a renaissance for older Americans: a future in which what he calls the “third act of life” will shift from visions of frailty and decline and toward an embrace of aging as a vibrant and productive stage of life. Samuel is the author of Aging in America: A Cultural History, which was released this year, where he advocated for a return to an American narrative of reverence and pride in old age. In his adaptation of the book for Next Avenue, Samuel noted a confluence of factors (including the sheer economic clout of boomers) that bodes well for the future of aging in our country.

His latest book, Boomers 3.0: Marketing to Baby Boomers in Their Third Act of Life, was published in August.

Samuel writes the “Psychology Yesterday” blog for Psychology Today, exploring stories from America’s psychological past.

Samuel predicts a renaissance for older Americans: a future in which what he calls the “third act of life” will shift from visions of frailty and decline and toward an embrace of aging as a vibrant and productive stage of life. Samuel is the author of Aging in America: A Cultural History, which was released this year, where he advocated for a return to an American narrative of reverence and pride in old age. In his adaptation of the book for Next Avenue, Samuel noted a confluence of factors (including the sheer economic clout of boomers) that bodes well for the future of aging in our country.

His latest book, Boomers 3.0: Marketing to Baby Boomers in Their Third Act of Life, was published in August.

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Samuel writes the “Psychology Yesterday” blog for Psychology Today, exploring stories from America’s psychological past.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Through their numbers and influence, the remaining 65 million boomers are in an ideal position to change the narrative of aging in America; they should seize this historic opportunity by compellingly documenting the joyful experience that is getting older.”

George Schofield
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George Schofield: Studying Career Development in the Middle Years

Developmental Psychologist

Schofield has devoted his career to a stage of life that begins around age 50. As an author and developmental psychologist, Schofield has written two books on the subject: After 50 It’s Up to Us: Developing the Skills and Agility We Need, and his latest, How Do I Get There From Here? Planning For Retirement when the Old Rules No Longer Apply. His work has appeared in Next Avenue, Forbes, and The Huffington Post.

He is also the founder of The Clarity Group, a consulting firm that focuses on helping businesses succeed in the frenetic environment of the 21st century.

Schofield has devoted his career to a stage of life that begins around age 50. As an author and developmental psychologist, Schofield has written two books on the subject: After 50 It’s Up to Us: Developing the Skills and Agility We Need, and his latest, How Do I Get There From Here? Planning For Retirement when the Old Rules No Longer Apply. His work has appeared in Next Avenue, Forbes, and The Huffington Post.

He is also the founder of The Clarity Group, a consulting firm that focuses on helping businesses succeed in the frenetic environment of the 21st century.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Eliminate stereotypes. We are all pioneers, crossing shifting/surprising terrain. Longevity is an individual and collective gift. High quality of life relies on what we actively do with what we’ve got or can create. The catalyst isn’t age. It’s active intention.”

Paula Span
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Paula Span: Advocating Through Reporting

Author and The New Old Age columnist for The New York Times

Span’s long and distinguished journalism career began in the fourth grade, when she read children’s biographies of Nellie Bly and Joseph Pulitzer and decided then and there to become a journalist. Span has written about arts and culture for a wealth of media publications, from The Washington Post to Esquire to Cosmopolitan. In 2009, she authored When the Time Comes, a book that explores the many challenges and opportunities facing family caregivers.

Her current work writing The New Old Age blog for The New York Times has brought broader visibility to issues facing older adults — from the trend of older couples “shacking up” to the issue of older patients not being allowed to leave the hospital when they wish. Her blog pieces are broadly read and shared among people from many generations. Span teaches as an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she was honored with the 2009 Distinguished Teacher of the Year award.

Span’s long and distinguished journalism career began in the fourth grade, when she read children’s biographies of Nellie Bly and Joseph Pulitzer and decided then and there to become a journalist. Span has written about arts and culture for a wealth of media publications, from The Washington Post to Esquire to Cosmopolitan. In 2009, she authored When the Time Comes, a book that explores the many challenges and opportunities facing family caregivers.

Her current work writing The New Old Age blog for The New York Times has brought broader visibility to issues facing older adults — from the trend of older couples “shacking up” to the issue of older patients not being allowed to leave the hospital when they wish. Her blog pieces are broadly read and shared among people from many generations. Span teaches as an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she was honored with the 2009 Distinguished Teacher of the Year award.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I want everyone, old and young, to resist ageism.  Call out timeworn cultural stereotypes.  Stop making apologetic wisecracks and avoiding helpful devices. Refuse cosmetic surgery. Go gray boldly. Own it: We’re here, we’re aging, get used to it.”

Seth Sternberg
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Seth Sternberg: Investing in In-Home Care

CEO and Co-Founder of Honor

Sternberg is the co-founder and CEO of Honor, a Silicon Valley startup that helps older Americans age gracefully and comfortably in their own homes via personalized, non-medical care. The unusual part of Sternberg’s success story is how he did it: by convincing youth-centric venture capitalists to invest $65 million in a company focused on the underserved older market.

Sternberg was already adept at attracting interest and investment in his products, having sold Meebo, a messaging service, to Google in 2012 for around $100 million. At Honor, Sternberg leverages his considerable experience at Meebo, Google and IBM into a radical new vision for 21st-century in-home care.

Sternberg is the co-founder and CEO of Honor, a Silicon Valley startup that helps older Americans age gracefully and comfortably in their own homes via personalized, non-medical care. The unusual part of Sternberg’s success story is how he did it: by convincing youth-centric venture capitalists to invest $65 million in a company focused on the underserved older market.

Sternberg was already adept at attracting interest and investment in his products, having sold Meebo, a messaging service, to Google in 2012 for around $100 million. At Honor, Sternberg leverages his considerable experience at Meebo, Google and IBM into a radical new vision for 21st-century in-home care.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“We have a history of underinvesting in amazing services and products for older adults. We should be innovating for them — we need to do right by them and, for the investment, it's a fantastic opportunity.”

Robyn Stone
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Robyn Stone: Leading Authority on Aging Research

Senior Vice President for Research at LeadingAge

As the senior vice president for research at LeadingAge, a national association for nonprofit aging services providers, Stone brings decades of research experience and senior level policy expertise to LeadingAge’s mission to inspire, serve and advocate for older Americans. Stone is the director of the organization’s Center for Applied Research, where she works to bridge policy and practice through applied research.

Stone is a fellow with the Gerontological Society of America and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) in 2014. She has leveraged her expertise into advocacy for better long-term care policy, with a particular emphasis on lower-income older adults.

As the senior vice president for research at LeadingAge, a national association for nonprofit aging services providers, Stone brings decades of research experience and senior level policy expertise to LeadingAge’s mission to inspire, serve and advocate for older Americans. Stone is the director of the organization’s Center for Applied Research, where she works to bridge policy and practice through applied research.

Stone is a fellow with the Gerontological Society of America and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) in 2014. She has leveraged her expertise into advocacy for better long-term care policy, with a particular emphasis on lower-income older adults.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“All older adults, regardless of economic status, should have access to quality, affordable long-term services and supports and housing that allows them to age successfully with dignity and autonomy in the setting and community of their choice.”

John Tarnoff
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John Tarnoff: Reinventing Careers After 50

Author of 'Boomer Reinvention'

During his 35-year career as a tech startup founder, film producer and studio executive, Tarnoff became adept at career reinvention — he had to adapt quickly in the fast-paced workplace environment of Los Angeles. At 50, he found himself at an impasse. So Tarnoff decided to go back to school to earn a master’s in spiritual psychology, pivoting to an “encore career” training and educating other boomers to fulfill their potential and transition to meaningful new careers.

Tarnoff is the author of the highly acclaimed book Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50. In it, he encourages boomers to reframe their mindsets as well as their job descriptions, unlocking a vocation that is already inside them.

During his 35-year career as a tech startup founder, film producer and studio executive, Tarnoff became adept at career reinvention — he had to adapt quickly in the fast-paced workplace environment of Los Angeles. At 50, he found himself at an impasse. So Tarnoff decided to go back to school to earn a master’s in spiritual psychology, pivoting to an “encore career” training and educating other boomers to fulfill their potential and transition to meaningful new careers.

Tarnoff is the author of the highly acclaimed book Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50. In it, he encourages boomers to reframe their mindsets as well as their job descriptions, unlocking a vocation that is already inside them.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Enliven and empower older workers to synthesize the useful, meaningful and purposeful second-act career that lies buried deep inside them — the strategic expression of their unique lifelong experiences and takeaways, rolled into a new mastery with real-world impact.”

Elizabeth White
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Elizabeth White: Advocating for Invisible Older Americans

Author of 'Fifty-five, Unemployed, and Faking Normal'

At 60, White found herself in dire financial straits. You wouldn’t have guessed by looking at her, but as she approached the traditional age for retirement, the Harvard graduate was severely underemployed and unable to afford even basic necessities. White chronicled her story in her new book, Fifty-Five, Unemployed and Faking Normal, which sprang from a Next Avenue article she wrote and has since become a popular TEDx Talk. One of White’s key ideas for surviving income instability: “resilience circles” of friends who can serve as support and refuge in vulnerable times.

Since writing the book, White has become an advocate for victims of America’s retirement income-security crisis, working as a consultant and speaker to advocate for those who find themselves in situations like hers.

At 60, White found herself in dire financial straits. You wouldn’t have guessed by looking at her, but as she approached the traditional age for retirement, the Harvard graduate was severely underemployed and unable to afford even basic necessities. White chronicled her story in her new book, Fifty-Five, Unemployed and Faking Normal, which sprang from a Next Avenue article she wrote and has since become a popular TEDx Talk. One of White’s key ideas for surviving income instability: “resilience circles” of friends who can serve as support and refuge in vulnerable times.

Since writing the book, White has become an advocate for victims of America’s retirement income-security crisis, working as a consultant and speaker to advocate for those who find themselves in situations like hers.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Tens of millions of us will live well into our eighties, but where and under what circumstances? As a country, we must now prioritize investment in the physical infrastructure needed to support our health, emotional well-being, dignity and independence as we age.”

Daniel Wilson
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Daniel Wilson: Transforming Elder Care and Disability Services

Director of Federal Affairs for the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute

Wilson serves as director of federal affairs for the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a New York-based nonprofit that works to provide support for disenfranchised older Americans and the disabled. Wilson brings considerable experience to his role at PHI representing caregivers in Washington: For a decade, he served as the executive director of policy and program development at the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, and he was the co-chair of the 2016 American Society on Aging’s Aging in America conference.

At PHI, Wilson represents the diverse voices of caregivers, ensuring that these workers receive the support necessary to excel in their professions.

Wilson serves as director of federal affairs for the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a New York-based nonprofit that works to provide support for disenfranchised older Americans and the disabled. Wilson brings considerable experience to his role at PHI representing caregivers in Washington: For a decade, he served as the executive director of policy and program development at the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, and he was the co-chair of the 2016 American Society on Aging’s Aging in America conference.

At PHI, Wilson represents the diverse voices of caregivers, ensuring that these workers receive the support necessary to excel in their professions.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“I want to educate individuals at an earlier age to be better prepared for what aging means for them. Centering in on your values and what you view as successful aging early allows you to embrace time and change.”

Carol Zernial
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Carol Zernial: Investing in Quality of Life

Executive Director at WellMed Charitable Foundation

Zernial’s expertise in the field of aging goes back 20 years, and includes work for the White House Conference on Aging, leading the Alamo Area Council of Governments’ Bexar Area Agency on Aging and serving as the vice president of the Texas Association of Area Agencies on Aging. In 2008, Zernial was honored with the Outstanding Professional in Aging Award for her contributions to the field of aging in Texas.

Today, Zernial serves as the executive director of the WellMed Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit that supports older adults and their caregivers. Since 2014, she has also served as the chair of the board of directors for National Council on Aging. Zernial produces and co-hosts one of the first podcasts for caregivers and their families: Caregiver SOS: On Air.

Zernial’s expertise in the field of aging goes back 20 years, and includes work for the White House Conference on Aging, leading the Alamo Area Council of Governments’ Bexar Area Agency on Aging and serving as the vice president of the Texas Association of Area Agencies on Aging. In 2008, Zernial was honored with the Outstanding Professional in Aging Award for her contributions to the field of aging in Texas.

Today, Zernial serves as the executive director of the WellMed Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit that supports older adults and their caregivers. Since 2014, she has also served as the chair of the board of directors for National Council on Aging. Zernial produces and co-hosts one of the first podcasts for caregivers and their families: Caregiver SOS: On Air.

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT AGING IN AMERICA, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“‘Living independently’ may join ‘and they lived happily ever after’ as some of the most tragic words in the English lexicon. What if we reimagined/bundled aging services with autonomy and community as the core values — infused with holistic health?”