Roughly 10,000 boomers are turning 65 each day, but the “baby boom” is only the beginning, as people around the world live longer lives in greater numbers. Questions concerning the effect of aging on our future health, work, finances, lifestyle and communities are more pressing than ever and affect us all. The remarkable people named to Next Avenue’s first annual Influencers in Aging list are tackling these questions and finding new ways of living longer, healthier and happier lives.

The list includes 10 honorees in each of the five areas Next Avenue covers: Health & Well-Being, Caregiving, Money & Security, Work & Purpose and Living & Learning. One honoree, whose impact was especially profound this year, was named Influencer of the Year. This year that distinction goes to Dr. Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

In recognizing those making a difference in how we live as we grow older, we hope to highlight new ideas, spark conversation and inspire others to engage in this important work. Join us on Twitter and Facebook to discuss the Next Avenue 2015 Influencers in Aging list.

Choosing the Influencers

Selecting just 50 people for the list was a challenge. We started by asking Next Avenue editors and contributors to develop a broad list of people working to improve the lives of older adults in the areas of health, money, work, living and caregiving. We assembled an advisory panel with experts in health, housing, work, media, philanthropy and gerontology.  We considered hundreds of candidates and ask our advisers (all of whom could have been named to the list) to suggest additional names and weigh in on which of the nominees have had the greatest impact in their fields. Through this process we narrowed the list of nominees to 50, selecting 10 individuals in each of the five topic areas.

There are many people doing great work whose names are not on this year’s list. We will continue to gather those names and next year, we will invite our readers to nominate candidates for the list. Thank you to this year’s panel who helped Next Avenue recognize those working to improve the lives of older adults and prospects for all of us as we grow older.

The 2015 Advisory Panel


Marci Alboher — Marci Alboher is vice president of marketing and communications at and one of the nation’s leading authorities on career issues and workplace trends. A former blogger and columnist for The New York Times, her latest book is The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life, a step-by-step guide to finding work that serves the greater good. She is regularly called upon for commentary in media outlets around the world, and she has been interviewed by countless news organizations, including NBC’s Today and Nightly News, National Public Radio, AARP, the International Herald Tribune and USA Today. Alboher serves on the board of directors of Girls Write Now, the Advisory Council of Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose program, and as a mentor-editor for The OpEd Project.


Aging50_Adviser_Ken_Dychtwald_HeadShotKen Dychtwald — Over the past 35+ years, Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., has emerged as one of North America’s foremost visionary and leading thinkers regarding the lifestyle, marketing, health care and workforce implications of the age wave. He’s a psychologist, gerontologist and bestselling author of 16 books on aging-related issues, including Age Wave, Age Power and A New Purpose. Since 1986, Dychtwald has been the president and CEO of Age Wave, a firm he founded to guide companies and government groups in product and service development for boomers and mature adults. His client list includes over half the Fortune 500, and his explorations and innovative solutions have fertilized and catalyzed a broad spectrum of industry sectors — from pharmaceuticals and medical devices to automotive design and retail merchandising to financial planning and health insurance. Dychtwald was recently chosen to serve as chairman-elect of the American Society on Aging, the largest association of professionals serving the needs of older adults, and was recently honored by Investment Advisor as one of the 35 most influential thought leaders in the financial services industry over the past 35 years. During his career, Dychtwald has addressed more than 2 million people worldwide in his speeches to corporate, association, social service and government groups. His strikingly accurate predictions and innovative ideas are regularly featured in leading print and electronic media worldwide. Through his highly acclaimed presentations, his breakthrough research and consulting initiatives and his leadership within both the social science and business communities, Dychtwald has dedicated his life to battling ageist stereotypes while promoting a new, vital and purposeful role for life’s second half.

Aging50_Adviser_John_Feather_HeadShotJohn Feather — John Feather, Ph.D., is chief executive officer of Grantmakers In Aging, the national association of grantmaking foundations and other organizations that work to improve the lives of older people. Prior to beginning that position on Oct. 1, 2011, he was executive director and CEO of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, the national membership organization of pharmacists who specialize in care of older persons. Until 2002, he was director of the AARP Andrus Foundation, the research and education charity of AARP. For the 17 years prior to that appointment in 1995, Feather held several positions at the State University of New York at Buffalo, including clinical associate professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology and executive director of the Primary Care Resource Center. Prior to that he was director of the Western New York Geriatric Education Center. Feather is past chair of the board of directors of the American Society on Aging, past treasurer of the National Hispanic Council on Aging and a former officer or board member of 12 other national nonprofit organizations. In March 2015, he received the ASA Award, the highest honor of the American Society on Aging for his work in policy, practice and education. Feather is an organizational sociologist by training, and received his undergraduate education at the University of Texas at Austin and his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He has earned the designation of Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and Certified Association Executive (CAE).


Catherine Alicia Georges — Catherine Alicia Georges, Ph.D., is an educator, practitioner and community activist. Georges is currently professor and chairperson of the Department of Nursing at Lehman College of the City University of New York. Georges’ professional career spans more than four decades. She is a seasoned nurse educator and an international leader in nursing education and professional association leadership. She has been the project director for grants funded through professional organizations and the Lehman College Department of Nursing. These grants were from federal agencies (HRSA, CDC, Office of Minority Health), Astra Zeneca, Kellogg Foundation, the New York City Department of Health and the Jonas Center for Nursing. Georges received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Seton Hall University College of Nursing, a Master of Arts degree in Community Health Nursing Administration and Supervision from New York University School of Education, Division of Nursing, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Vermont. Georges is a member of the board of directors of AARP and R.A.I.N. Home Health Services. Georges is also a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and an honorary member of Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority and is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Nursing.


Dr. Rita Hargrave  — Dr. Hargrave is a board certified geriatric psychiatrist at the Veteran’s Administration Martinez Outpatient Mental Health Clinic and consulting psychiatrist at the University of California, Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center. She is also a clinical instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of California, Davis and chair of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology committee on geriatric psychiatry certification. She has been a prolific contributor to journals, magazines and books exploring neuropsychiatry, cross-cultural psychiatry and ethnic minority caregivers.  She founded Ethnic Elders Care, a website focused on ethnicity and dementia.

Aging50_Adviser_Paul_Irving_HeadShotPaul H. Irving — Paul H. Irving, JD, is chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging and distinguished scholar in residence at the University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology. Irving previously served as the Institute’s president, as an advanced leadership fellow at Harvard University and as chairman and CEO of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, a law and consulting firm. The author of The Upside of Aging: How Long Life Is Changing the World of Health, Work, Innovation, Policy, and Purpose (Wiley), a Wall Street Journal expert panelist and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Irving serves as vice chairman of, on the boards of East West Bancorp and the American Society on Aging and as a member of the Board of Councilors of the USC Davis School; the Advisory Board of the Stanford University Distinguished Careers Institute; the Advisory Council of the Global Coalition on Aging, Partners for Livable Communities; National Advisory Board on Aging and the Bipartisan Policy Center Health and Housing Advisory Council. In 2014, he was honored with the Janet L. Witkin Humanitarian Award by Affordable Living for the Aging. Irving previously served as an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, where he received the Board of Governors Award for outstanding contributions to society and the law.

Aging50_Adviser_Paula_Kerger_HeadShotPaula Kerger — Paula Kerger is president and CEO of PBS, the nation’s largest non-commercial media organization with more than 350 member stations. Since her arrival in 2006, Kerger has made particularly strong commitments to education, the arts, news and public affairs and the use of new technology to reach all Americans. Under Kerger’s leadership, PBS has been growing its audiences across platforms. In the course of a year, nearly 90 percent of all television households in America watch PBS. And online, viewers stream over 520 million videos per month on PBS platforms. Among her accomplishments are the pop-culture phenomenon Downton Abbey, Ken Burns’s The Roosevelts, acclaimed children’s programs such as Peg+Cat and Curious George and award-winning apps and online sites. PBS has also developed the new PBS LearningMedia, which provides educators with digital resources for the classroom. In addition to leading PBS, Kerger is president of the PBS Foundation, an independent organization that raises private sector funding for PBS, and has become a significant source of revenue for new projects at PBS. Kerger is regularly included in The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Power 100, an annual survey of the nation’s top women executives in media. In 2005, she was named to the Women’s Forum, an organization of 300 leading women in New York’s arts and business scenes. And in 2008, Kerger received the Woman of Achievement Award from Women in Development, New York. Kerger received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Baltimore and serves on the Merrick School of Business Dean’s Advisory Council. She is also a director of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a member of the board of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Aging50_Adviser_Greg_O'Neill_HeadShotGreg O’Neill — Greg O’Neill, Ph.D., is a demographer and director of the National Academy on an Aging Society, the public policy institute of The Gerontological Society of America. The Academy conducts, synthesizes and disseminates research on issues related to population aging and publishes the quarterly Public Policy & Aging Report. O’Neill specializes in the demographics of aging, boomers, civic engagement and the future of work and retirement. He is the founder of Aging Means Business, a communications venture spotlighting breakthrough ideas, innovations and strategies for the 50+ market and entrepreneurship by the 50+ demographic. O’Neill also is a mentor with the Aging 2.0 GENerator founders program that supports entrepreneurs working to enhance the lives of older adults and improve long-term care. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from Duke University. Follow him on Twitter @Aging_Society and @AgingMeansBiz and on LinkedIn.

Aging50_Advisor_Katie_Smith_Sloan_HeadShotKatrinka (Katie) Smith Sloan — Katrinka (Katie) Smith Sloan is chief operations officer and senior vice president of LeadingAge. In this position, she is the key leader for all of LeadingAge’s operations, membership-related initiatives and services and strategic planning. She also serves as the executive director of the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing (IAHSA), a global network of aging services organizations committed to quality of life for people as they age. At LeadingAge, Sloan is responsible for building stronger and more effective relationships among the association’s key stakeholders, including state associations and their leadership, member organizations and strategic affiliates. She leads the association’s consumer strategy and is also responsible for managing operational aspects to enable it to grow and ensure its financial strength.

Aging50_Adviser_Patricia_Yu_HeadShotPatricia Yu — Patricia Yu, Ph.D., LCSW, was awarded the 2014-2015 Health & Aging Policy Fellowship and the American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship. She was the lead policy analyst at the 2015 White House Conference on Aging and has collaborated with leadership across federal executive agencies and national aging stakeholder organizations. Her policy analysis provided the policy content for the White House Conference on Aging and the White House Domestic Policy Council. Yu is a licensed clinical social worker with advance practice experience in acute and community based settings. Her prior clinical experience informs her research agenda on immigrant home care workers and their multicultural experiences in caregiving. She is particularly interested in integrating the immigrant workforce into community based care settings that creates better patient outcomes and elevates the role of direct care workers. Her other areas of research and teaching include social policies, research methods, long term care, gerontology, caregiving, and immigration issues.