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 »
THE QUESTION
How Much Did the IRS Overpay in Earned Income Tax Credit Benefits?
2 minutes ago
THE ANSWER

An estimated $15.6 billion, "according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report."

Source:
TIES TO CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE
McAuliffe Under Investigation for Fundraising
6 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) “is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and … the Justice Department” for potentially improper contributions to his 2013 campaign, including while he was a Clinton Global Initiative board member. ... Among the McAuliffe donations that drew the interest of the investigators was $120,000 from” former Chinese legislator Wang Wenliang. “U.S. election law prohibits foreign nationals from donating to … elections. … But Wang holds U.S. permanent resident status.”

Source:
RAISES SEX ASSAULT, VINCE FOSTER
Trump Takes Aim at Bill Clinton
20 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump is reviving some of the ugliest political chapters of the 1990s with escalating personal attacks on Bill Clinton's character, part of a concerted effort to smother Hillary Clinton 's campaign message with the weight of decades of controversy. Trump's latest shot came Monday when he released an incendiary Instagram video that includes the voices of two women who accused the former president of sexual assault, underscoring the presumptive Republican nominee's willingness to go far beyond political norms in his critique of his likely Democratic rival. ...In one recent interview, Trump said another topic of potential concern is the suicide of former White House aide Vincent Foster, which remains the focus of intense and far-fetched conspiracy theories on the Internet."

Source:
FUROR AFTER HOUSE OVERSIGHT HEARING
Head of Security for TSA Has Been Reassigned
30 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"The head of security for the Transportation Security Administration, Kelly Hoggan, has been removed from his position after a hearing about the agency's management, the House Oversight Committee says." Deputy assistant administrator Darby LaJoye will take over for Hoggan on a temporary basis.

Source:
FORMERLY THE DEPT’S TOP ATTORNEY
Transportation Sec. Names Special Adviser for Metro System
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has appointed a veteran legal insider with strong personal ties to the Obama administration to serve as his special adviser focused exclusively on fixing the Washington region’s troubled Metro system. Kathryn Thomson, who was expected to leave her job as the Department of Transportation’s top lawyer, instead will stay on as Foxx’s special adviser on Metro oversight." She'll start this week.

Source:
×