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Q & A with New AARP State President Linda Fitzgerald

AARP Massachusetts has a new state president, Linda Fitzgerald, a life-long advocate, advisor and educator for seniors and their families. Linda was appointed to the volunteer position in March 2009. For the past 30 years, Fitzgerald has volunteered with AARP in a variety of roles, including most recently as a member of the AARP Massachusetts Executive Council and as a Congressional key contact.

Q: What drew you to the position of State President?

A: In the '70s, as a staff person at the Council of Churches of Greater Springfield, I benefited from training programs provided by AARP, and always said that I wanted to work for AARP "when I grew up." After retirement, I was honored when asked to join the AARP Massachusetts Executive Council; it was my way of giving back for all the early training that I was able to draw from over all these years. As State President, I have the opportunity to share what I've learned throughout my career with AARP—and most importantly, our 880,000 members in Massachusetts. I enjoy and look forward to "working in the vineyard," talking to and with people across the state.

Q: How will you lead AARP Massachusetts in advocating for its members on a national and state level?

A: There are many critical issues facing us that are not limited to the "older" generation. All of us are affected when it comes to health care, financial security and livable communities. I believe that by working together we all can make a difference, especially through volunteer efforts. A lot of people doing little things really add up!

Specifically, I want to visit the 28 local AARP chapters in Massachusetts, as well as other groups, to hear their thoughts on how we can work for change; I want to get them all more involved. I want to hear from our volunteers—and we have 2,000 across the commonwealth—to find out what's working and what we can do better. And, last but certainly not least, I want to get as many of our members involved in our advocacy efforts as possible, especially around health care reform. Whether they spend 5 minutes to email their U.S. Senator about a piece of legislation, or 5 hours helping to organize other members in their Congressional District—all our work, together, will make the difference. Of that, I am sure.

Q: What is the best part of living with your "large, wild and diverse four-generation family" in Springfield?

A: Celebrations! When we are together, we laugh a lot. And my husband and I are very proud of our kids, grandkids and extended family's accomplishments. As an aside, they are all very tolerant of me and put up with me. I'm supposed to make all the kids a quilt but so far I'm two years behind in accomplishing that goal; so much to do, so little time. And, I have to add, my long suffering husband says he's glad to get me out of the house as I spend more time traveling the commonwealth as your State President—yes, he made me say that.

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