New AARP Leader Will Focus on Community Engagement

Jo Ann Jenkins takes over the 37-million-member organization in September.

Jo Ann Jenkins will become president and CEO of the AARP in September 2014.
National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
May 14, 2014, 8 a.m.

As Jo Ann Jen­kins ex­plains, “Amer­ic­an As­so­ci­ation of Re­tired Per­sons” no longer en­cap­su­lates AARP’s mem­ber­ship.

“Over 40 per­cent of our 37 mil­lion mem­bers are still work­ing, wheth­er they want to work or they have to work,” said the newly ap­poin­ted CEO of the power­ful Wash­ing­ton-based lobby, which jet­tisoned the longer title in 1999.

“A num­ber of them are start­ing small busi­nesses, some are look­ing for jobs that bring real mean­ing and ful­fill­ment to their lives, and many of them simply can­not af­ford to re­tire.”

On Tues­day, AARP an­nounced that Jen­kins, cur­rently the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s ex­ec­ut­ive vice pres­id­ent and chief op­er­at­ing of­ficer, would suc­ceed A. Barry Rand as CEO, start­ing Sept. 1. She will be AARP’s first per­man­ent fe­male chief ex­ec­ut­ive; Rand, who be­came AARP’s first black CEO in 2009, is re­tir­ing.

Jen­kins, who pre­vi­ously served as pres­id­ent of the AARP Found­a­tion, brings to her new job an em­phas­is on fight­ing hun­ger, poverty, isol­a­tion, and un­em­ploy­ment among the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s mem­bers. “I have said to the staff that I want to make sure that everything we do is re­mem­ber­ing that so­cial mis­sion,” she said.

Un­der Jen­kins, AARP will fo­cus in­creas­ingly on com­munity en­gage­ment. Many of AARP’s mem­bers lack ex­per­i­ence us­ing mo­bile devices, but the or­gan­iz­a­tion hopes to boost the di­git­al lit­er­acy of its mem­ber­ship by ex­pand­ing a hands-on edu­ca­tion cur­riculum called AARP TEK.

“AARP is a na­tion­al or­gan­iz­a­tion, but how do we be­come na­tion­wide?” Jen­kins said. “How do we show up in com­munit­ies all across this coun­try?”

A stew­ard of Face­book COO Sheryl Sand­berg’s “Lean In” move­ment, Jen­kins re­cently re­turned from a mem­ber event in Bo­ston, where AARP had its first-ever “lean in” ses­sion with sev­er­al hun­dred wo­men. Jen­kins’s Twit­ter ac­count, @JoAn­n_Jen­kins, is peppered with the “#Lean­In” hash tag.

A nat­ive of Mo­bile, Ala., Jen­kins at­ten­ded nearby Spring Hill Col­lege and then served for 12 years in the Re­agan and George H.W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tions, cul­min­at­ing in a stint as dir­ect­or of the Ag­ri­cul­ture De­part­ment’s Of­fice of Ad­vocacy and En­ter­prise.

After work­ing briefly in the private sec­tor, Jen­kins re­turned to the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment as COO at the Lib­rary of Con­gress, where she re­mained for the next 15 years. Dur­ing her ten­ure, she de­veloped and dir­ec­ted the Na­tion­al Book Fest­iv­al and the Lib­rary of Con­gress Ex­per­i­ence.

“I don’t think it’s any secret: I tell people that my job at the Lib­rary of Con­gress was the best place in Wash­ing­ton to work,” she said. “It’s one of the few places that you can op­er­ate in a non­par­tis­an way. Every­body loves books and lib­rar­ies.”

Jen­kins, 56, was on the verge of re­tire­ment when AARP in­vited her to lead its found­a­tion, where she grew its over­all donor base by 90 per­cent dur­ing her first two years.

A year and a half ago, Rand re­cruited her as COO to build out the AARP’s en­ter­prise-wide strategy. The gregari­ous, self-con­fessed sports fan­at­ic is mar­ried to a re­tired prin­cip­al for the Fair­fax County, Va., Pub­lic Schools and has two adult chil­dren.

“I dare say I am a work­ahol­ic,” she said.

What We're Following See More »
27TH AMENDMENT
Congress Can’t Seem Not to Pay Itself
38 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

Rep. Dave Young can't even refuse his own paycheck. The Iowa Republican is trying to make a point that if Congress can't pass a budget (it's already missed the April 15 deadline) then it shouldn't be paid. But, he's been informed, the 27th Amendment prohibits him from refusing his own pay. "Young’s efforts to dock his own pay, however, are duck soup compared to his larger goal: docking the pay of every lawmaker when Congress drops the budget ball." His bill to stiff his colleagues has only mustered the support of three of them. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), has about three dozen co-sponsors.

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Far Away from Cleveland is the California GOP Staying?
1 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Sixty miles away, in Sandusky, Ohio. "We're pretty bitter about that," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "It sucks to be California, we're like the ugly stepchild. They need us for our cash and our donors, they don't need us for anything else."

ATTORNEY MAY RELEASE THEM ANYWAY
SCOTUS Will Not Allow ‘DC Madam’ Phone Records to Be Released
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Anyone looking forward to seeing some boldfaced names on the client list of the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "DC Madam," will have to wait a little longer. "The Supreme Court announced Monday it would not intervene to allow" the release of her phone records, "despite one of her former attorneys claiming the records are “very relevant” to the presidential election. Though he has repeatedly threatened to release the records if courts do not modify a 2007 restraining order, Montgomery Blair Sibley tells U.S. News he’s not quite sure what he now will do."

Source:
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Sanders Looks to Right the Ship in Indiana
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

Hillary Clinton may have the Democratic nomination sewn up, but Bernie Sanders apparently isn't buying it. Buoyed by a poll showing them in a "virtual tie," Sanders is "holding three rallies on the final day before the state primary and hoping to pull off a win after a tough week of election losses and campaign layoffs." 

Source:
‘SPOOKED’ IN NORTH DAKOTA
Cruz Delegates Having Second Thoughts?
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

As unbound delegates pledged to Ted Cruz watch him "struggle to tread water in a primary increasingly dominated by Trump, many of them, wary of a bitter convention battle that could rend the party at its seams, are rethinking their commitment to the Texas senator."

Source:
×