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Spring Brings Leadership Transitions for Kentucky Office

After more than a decade of service at AARP Kentucky, State Director Phil Peters retired March 30. He leaves AARP after a long, successful career and is entering the next chapter of his story.

His work on behalf of AARP members in Kentucky began in 2001 when he transferred from the AARP Dallas Regional Office to open the Kentucky State Office doors in Louisville. Under his leadership, the state office has worked consistently to enhance the quality of life in Kentucky and led positive social change through advocacy and community service.

Peters built a reputation across the state for standing up for AARP members and future generations of Kentuckians. His work delivered new consumer protections, relief from utility increases, and funding for community based services.

Most notably in 2004, AARP Kentucky led grassroots efforts (organizing a new coalition – Advocates for Reforming Medicaid Services) to restore services and $250 million dollars in cuts from the state’s Medicaid program.

Under Peters, the state office’s key legislative accomplishments included passage of:

  • Telemarketing “No Call”
  • New Elder Abuse law
  • An increase in the Homestead Exemption
  • Successfully pushing the General Assembly and Governor to increase the Department of Aging Services budget by $7.5 million dollars

Peters will be missed in Kentucky and is welcome anytime back in the Bluegrass.

In April, AARP Kentucky welcomed the promotion of Ryan Gruenenfelder as Interim State Director for the AARP Kentucky State Office representing the Association’s 460,000 Kentucky members.

Gruenenfelder assumes the top executive role in Kentucky while on leave during the search for a permanent State Director. He comes to Kentucky from AARP Illinois where he serves as Associate State Director of Advocacy and Outreach.

AARP Kentucky State President James T. Kimbrough welcomed Gruenenfelder saying, “We welcome the experience and expertise Ryan brings to Kentucky. His state budget advocacy and experience in long-term care and gerontology are especially relevant as we work for improvements in our state’s delivery of home and community-based services for our members.”

As AARP Illinois’ Associate State Director of Advocacy and Outreach, he is the state’s legislative lobbyist for federal advocacy with southern Illinois members of Congress, and consumer protection and financial security issues. He also serves as the statewide manager of Illinois’ “You’ve Earned a Say” conversations and financial education efforts.

Previously, as Associate State Director for Community Outreach, he led community outreach in southern Illinois, serving as a co-lead on public outreach campaigns, leading statewide financial security advocacy and consumer education efforts including automatic 401(k) outreach and an employer-focused partnership project. He named the project, Financially Fit Illinois, and successfully engaged employers delivering new tools for improving their employees’ financial knowledge.

“Ryan brings proven leadership, innovative and extensive public policy experience to our Kentucky State Office. Our members, Commonwealth residents 50 and older and their families will continue to be well represented at a time when their health and retirement security needs are top priorities,” said AARP Mideast Regional Vice President Rawle Andrews.

Gruenenfelder joined AARP Illinois in 2005 and presently serves as Associate State Director of Advocacy and Outreach. He holds a B.S. in Psychology and a M.A. in Gerontology from Western Illinois University. Gruenenfelder lives in Springfield, Illinois with his wife and their two children.

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