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AARP's Senior Vice President for Multicultural Leadership Fights for All Older Americans

Edna Kane-Williams on the impact of COVID-19 and age discrimination on communities of color

Edna Kane-Williams smiling at the camera

AARP

Edna Kane-Williams

What is your role at AARP?

My team tries to ensure that all of AARP's resources are available to multicultural audiences. We want these communities to feel embraced and welcomed into our organization.

Describe a recent victory.

Our response to COVID-19's huge, disproportionate impact on communities of color. We quickly initiated a range of actions to help those hardest hit.

What excites you about how we age?

I love that we don't define accomplishment by age anymore. I don't feel confined by age. I do what I want—and refuse to be constrained by what others think.

What concerns you about aging in America today?

That the impact of age discrimination disproportionately affects people of color.

That the pandemic will be something that many over age 50 won't be able to recover from—physically, financially, emotionally, mentally.

What values of our founder, Ethel Percy Andrus, inspire you?

I love that Ethel Percy Andrus was a champion of communities of color from the start of her career. She has left AARP with a legacy of challenging the status quo and always fighting for the moral imperative.

5 Fast Facts

Currently reading: 180 Devotions for When Life Is Hard

If I could go any-where, I'd go to: Santorini, Greece; or Capetown, South Africa

Who inspires me: Living: Ava Duvernay. Deceased: Toni Morrison

You should watch: HBO's Insecure

Favorite comfort food: Any type of seafood gumbo

I'll retire when: I'm good and ready

What is your greatest challenge?

America is polarized. It sometimes makes it very difficult to talk about race, the needs of communities of color or how to bring people together to move forward. We often encounter resistance—even anger. But I think our work is key to helping our country prosper.

What should more people know about AARP?

Our long involvement in social justice issues. We're not new to this game. We have always been on the front lines—fighting for health, fighting for financial security, fighting for the rights of caregivers.

What is your most important short-term goal?

These are devastating times in many ways. I'm committed to ensuring that AARP will not only survive these winds of change, but emerge even stronger.

What is your most passionate long-term goal?

I have a new grandson! He is biracial, the product of a mixed marriage. I'm working for him and future grandchildren. They deserve better.

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