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Where We Stand: Leading to the Future

I am excited about this opportunity to serve AARP. Throughout my life, I have always thought of myself as a catalyst for social change. It’s my passion. It’s what I’ve always been about. And you might say that I came by it honestly. My parents were firm believers in the biblical adage, “For those to whom much is given, much will be required.” And they would ask me the question that I have continued to ask myself—and others—throughout my life: “What is your contribution going to be?”

Everywhere I’ve worked, my goal has always been to open the door to the American dream for all people—to broaden the culture of America by making it more inclusive.

And to me, that’s what AARP is all about. In 21st-century America, the foundation of the American dream is quality, affordable health care and financial security. Those are fundamental—no one can achieve the American dream without them. But it is also about much more—it is also about having options:

• the option to continue working if you want or need to;

• the option to live in your own home or community for as long as you can;

• the option to continue contributing to society—to give back—in the way of your choosing;

• and there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun along the later part of your journey.

I came to AARP because of its social mission. AARP is one of the few organizations in the country with the power to influence and the capability to open the door to the American dream for all people. And that door shouldn’t close just because you are getting older.

AARP is at the forefront of one of the transformational issues of our time—the aging of America. We must harness the experience, knowledge and resources of AARP to lead in addressing this issue, especially pertaining to health care and financial security and other quality-of-life issues.

We’re at a pivotal time in our history. What we’re going through right now in this country is giving us a glimpse of what America would be like if we had to redefine the American dream. Nobody wants that.

People are hurting. The economic statistics we see every day are more than just numbers; they measure the pain of America. We see more people struggling to get by, losing their jobs, their homes, their retirement nest eggs and their health care. For them, many of whom are AARP members and their families, the door to the American dream is closing. So, we have to push that door back open and help people go through it.

We enter this next phase of AARP’s journey with a solid foundation to build upon, thanks to the leadership of AARP’s board of directors and Bill Novelli. We have an inspiring mission, a strong social ethic and 40 million engaged, caring members. This gives us the power and the voice to create a society where all people can age with independence, dignity and purpose. I look forward to our journey together.

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