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
Add to Briefcase
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 »
THANKS TO MILITARY ROLE
McMaster Requires Congressional Approval
19 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Congress will need to vote on Donald Trump's pick of Lt. General H.R. McMaster to be his next national security adviser, but not for the reason you think. The position of NSA doesn't require Senate approval, but since McMaster currently holds a three-star military position, Congress will need to vote to allow him to keep his position instead of forcing him to drop one star and become a Major General, which could potentially affect his pension.

Source:
SENT LETTERS TO A DOZEN ORGANIZATIONS
Senate Intel Looks to Preserve Records of Russian Interference
23 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to ensure that records related to Russia’s alleged intervention in the 2016 U.S. elections are preserved as it begins investigating that country’s ties to the Trump team. The panel sent more than a dozen letters to 'organizations, agencies and officials' on Friday, asking them to preserve materials related to the congressional investigation, according to a Senate aide, who was not authorized to comment publicly. The Senate Intelligence Committee is spearheading the most comprehensive probe on Capitol Hill of Russia’s alleged activities in the elections."

Source:
WON’T INTERFERE IN STRUCTURING NSC OFFICE
White House to Give McMaster Carte Blanche
1 days ago
THE LATEST
NAIVE, RISK TAKER
Russia Compiling Dossier on Trump’s Mind
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Retired Russian diplomats and members of Vladimir Putin's staff are compiling a dossier "on Donald Trump's psychological makeup" for the Russian leader. "Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser."

Source:
PLANS TO CURB ITS POWER
Pruitt Confirmed As EPA Head
5 days ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login