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Lisa Marsh Ryerson, President

AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson


Lisa Marsh Ryerson is president of AARP Foundation, the charitable affiliate of AARP. A bold, disciplined and collaborative leader, she sets the Foundation’s strategic direction and steers its efforts to realize an audacious vision: a country free of poverty where no older person feels vulnerable. Since she took the helm, AARP Foundation has developed pioneering initiatives, explored new avenues for collaboration, and secured unprecedented funding to support programs and services that truly change lives.

Ms. Ryerson has spearheaded innovative partnerships with other organizations to create and advance effective solutions that help vulnerable older adults meet their basic needs. The Root Cause Coalition, co-founded by AARP Foundation and ProMedica, brings the full power of health care to bear in the collective fight to address the root causes of health disparities by focusing on hunger and other social determinants. The Foundation’s newest collaborative effort, Connect2Affect, draws together aging, volunteer and health care organizations to help end isolation and build the social connections older adults need to thrive.

During her tenure, the Foundation has launched initiatives that include Age Strong, A Celebration of Service, Work for Yourself@50+, the Aging in Place $50K Challenge, and evidence-based grantmaking. The Foundation also brought Experience Corps under its umbrella and became the largest national sponsor of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).

Ms. Ryerson’s expertise in higher education — beginning in the classroom and extending through 18 years of service as the president and CEO of Wells College in Aurora, N.Y. — has enabled her to build new links between AARP Foundation and community colleges to increase employment opportunities for older adults. During her first year at the Foundation, she helped procure a $3 million federal grant from the Social Innovation Fund to expand the BACK TO WORK 50+ retraining program for the long-term unemployed. Other achievements include the release of a groundbreaking report on the state of housing for America’s older adults and implementing an “innovation pipeline” to generate, test and analyze new ideas to help low-income seniors.

Her many accomplishments at Wells College include increasing enrollment by 45 percent — thus revitalizing the economy of the surrounding community — and launching an endowed Center for Business and Entrepreneurship. She also has served on the boards of numerous higher education and nonprofit organizations, including the Council of Independent Colleges, Southern New Hampshire University, the Congressional Hunger Center, and L.A. Kitchen, of which AARP Foundation is a founding partner.

Ms. Ryerson holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wells College and a Master of Science from the State University of New York College at Cortland. Lauded for her leadership, she has received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary degree from Southern New Hampshire University in 2015 and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the State University of New York at Albany for having “met and exceeded each of John Quincy Adams’ standards for leadership.”

AARP Foundation Executive Leadership Team

Featured Programs & Services

AARP Foundation SCSEP

55 or older, unemployed and looking for work? The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) can help you get on-the-job training.

Work for Yourself at 50+

AARP Foundation's Work for Yourself @50+ provides free tools and resources to help you become self-employed and improve your financial situation.

BACK TO WORK 50+

We are partnering with workforce services providers to strengthen the bridge between 50+ job candidates and respected employers.

AARP Foundation Experience Corps

Experience Corps is a literacy program that utilizes highly trained volunteers age 50 and over to help struggling students become great readers.

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AARP Foundation earns a high rating for accountability from a leading charity evaluator. 

Eighty-one cents of every dollar we spend goes toward programs and services that help low-income older adults. We have met every one of the Better Business Bureau’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.