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AARP Leadership Profile

Lisa Marsh Ryerson

President, AARP Foundation

Lisa Marsh Ryerson is president of AARP Foundation. She is responsible for setting the strategic direction for AARP Foundation and leading the organization’s comprehensive development and social impact initiatives.

AARP Foundation helps millions of struggling older adults win back opportunity by focusing on the critical interrelated areas of hunger, income, housing and isolation. A proven leader, fundraiser and driver of economic development, she will continue to grow the foundation’s work and maximize its impact across the nation.

Prior to joining AARP Foundation in late 2013, she served 18 years as president and CEO of Wells College in Aurora, N.Y. She elevated the college’s standing as a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education, increased enrollment by 45 percent, fueled the economic revitalization of the community, and completed the largest and most successful fundraising effort in the college’s history.

She led initiatives that resulted in substantial improvements to the Wells campus; the revitalization of commercial properties in the village of Aurora; a successful transition to coeducation after more than a century as a women’s college; the launch of an endowed Center for Business and Entrepreneurship; and expanded programs and opportunities for students. Under her leadership, the college increased enrollment and enjoyed consistently high national rankings.

Her philanthropic and volunteer roles span national, regional and local organizations. Her executive committee affiliations include the Council of Independent Colleges, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, for whom she chaired the accountability committee. She also served on the NCAA Division III President’s Council and as chair of the North Eastern Athletic Conference President’s Council. In addition, she served as board chair for the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of New York State, the Women’s College Coalition and the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN).

Her achievements have earned her numerous awards, including recognition by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Girls Inc. of Central New York, the Public Relations Society of America and the New York State Senate. In 2013, she was named president emerita by the Wells College Board of Trustees.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wells College and a Master of Science degree from the State University of New York College at Cortland. She received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the State University of New York for having “met and exceeded each of John Quincy Adams’ standards for leadership.”

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