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How We Chose the Influencers in Aging


What does it take to become a Next Avenue Influencer in Aging?

Tireless work, passion and an unspoken but shared mission to unleash the potential power of older people. This group of influencers is at the forefront of changing how we age and think about aging as they further innovation and knowledge in their respective fields.

These advocates, researchers, thought leaders, groundbreakers, writers, experts and others continue to push beyond traditional boundaries and change our cultural notions of what it means to grow older. We at Next Avenue hope to shine a spotlight on these national leaders in aging and showcase their influence in the world through our annual Influencers in Aging list.

The list includes 10 honorees in each of the five areas Next Avenue covers: Health & Well-BeingCaregivingMoney & SecurityWork & Purpose and Living & Learning. One honoree, whose impact was especially profound this year, was named 2017 Influencer of the Year. That distinction goes to Elizabeth Blackburn, whose research on how telomeres, the protective ends of chromosomes, affect the aging process, earned her Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (along with colleagues Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak). Blackburn this year released The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer with co-author Elissa Epel (a previous Next Avenue Influencer in Aging). She was named the first female president of the prestigious Salk Institute in California in 2016.

Through recognizing those making a difference in how we live as we grow older, we hope to spark conversation, engage in new ideas and motivate people from all walks of life to become involved in this important work.

Searching for the Influencers

Selecting only 50 people for this list is always a challenge. For the past two years, we have asked for nominations from our Next Avenue readers as well as from our editors, contributors and past Influencers in Aging. We searched for a diverse and broad list of people whose work to improve the lives of older adults in the areas of health, money, work, living and caregiving was especially impressive over the past year.

We realize that many people doing great work are not included on this year’s list. We will continue to gather those names for next year’s list and will invite our readers to nominate candidates for the 2018 Influencers in Aging list, too.

By Shayla Thiel Stern
Shayla leads the editorial team and content strategy as the Director of Editorial and Content for Next Avenue at Twin Cities PBS. She has spent a career in digital media journalism and digital strategy at organizations including washingtonpost.comEdmunds.comCars.com and Fast Horse, and worked as a consultant for several years. She also was a media professor at the University of Minnesota and DePaul University and  has a Ph.D. in Mass Communication. She can be reached at [email protected].@shayla_stern

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