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AARP Leadership Profile

Jo Ann Jenkins


Jo Ann Jenkins is a nationally recognized leader and dynamic change agent with a 25-year track record of growth and innovation at some of the nation’s largest public and nonprofit organizations. As CEO of AARP, she is at the helm of the world’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization, where she leads a nationwide network of staff, volunteers and partners helping the more than 100 million Americans 50 and older achieve health security, financial resilience and personal fulfillment. Her signature rallying cry to Disrupt Aging! is designed to revolutionize society’s views on aging by driving a new social consciousness and sparking innovative solutions for all generations.

Jenkins, a proven innovator, joined AARP in 2010 as president of AARP Foundation, AARP’s affiliated charity. She led that organization’s far-reaching development and social impact initiatives, including Drive to End Hunger, a national effort by AARP and AARP Foundation to help the millions of older Americans who struggle with hunger every day. Under her leadership, the foundation’s overall donor base increased by 90 percent over two years. Prior to joining AARP Foundation, she served on the board of directors of AARP Services Inc., beginning in 2004 and becoming its chair in 2008.

She came to AARP Foundation from the Library of Congress, where she served as chief operating officer, responsible for managing the library’s day-to-day operations, its 4,000-person staff and its budget in excess of $1 billion. During her 15-year tenure, she developed and directed the library’s most high-profile projects, including the renowned National Book Festival and the Library of Congress Experience.   

Her federal career began at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and she was rapidly promoted to progressively more responsible leadership positions in the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Advocacy and Enterprise. Jenkins was a delegate and founding fellow to the U.S.-Japan Leadership Program, a 1999 graduate of Leadership America and a Malcolm Baldrige fellow (2013). She serves as a member of the National Advisory Board of Caring for Military Families. She received the Black Women’s Agenda Economic Development Award in 2013 for spearheading investments undergirding innovative social impact programs and is the recipient of the 2014 Peace Corps Director’s Award. Jo Ann is one of the NonProfit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50 for 2013, 2014 and 2015, as well as winner of SmartCEO’s 2015 BRAVA award honoring top female chief executives. Washington Life Magazine named her one of its Power 100 in 2015.  

A native of Mobile, Ala., she earned her B.S. from Spring Hill College. She is a 1998 graduate of the Stanford Executive Program, offered by the university’s Graduate School of Business, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters by Washington College in May 2014.

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