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AARP Purpose Prize: Learn About the Award Jurors Skip to content

Take a look at how people age around the world with this AARP special report: A New Age.

The jury for the AARP Purpose Prize award is an independent panel of leaders in the fields of journalism, nonprofits, academia, innovation/technology and entertainment. These distinguished individuals were selected for their experience and judgment. After a rigorous vetting process, the jury makes recommendations about who should receive the AARP Purpose Prizes. The AARP CEO makes the final decisions.

The jury members are:

Ashton Applewhite 

Author and activist Ashton Applewhite is the author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against AgeismIn 2016, she joined PBS site Next Avenue’s annual list of 50 Influencers in Aging as their Influencer of the Year. She has been recognized by the New York Times, National Public Radio and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. She blogs at This Chair Rocks, has written for Harper’s, Playboy, and the New York Times, and is the voice of Yo, Is This Ageist? She speaks widely, at venues that have ranged from universities and community centers to the TED main stage and the United Nations.

Karen Baker

Karen Baker was appointed the Secretary of Service and Volunteering in January 2006 by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and is serving as California’s Chief Service Officer for California Volunteers under Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.  Her 20-plus-year career includes serving as a Jesuit Volunteer Corps member, executive director of Chrysalis (a homeless nonprofit in Los Angeles), deputy director of AmeriCorps VISTA and Director of Special Projects for the CEO at the Corporation for National and Community Service during the Clinton administration, Director of Innovation at Share Our Strength and Managing Partner of Valley Vision. She has a B.A. in Sociology from UCLA.  

Dr. Cynthia Barnett

Cynthia Barnett is an educator who has reinvented her life. After 30 years as a teacher, guidance counselor and administrator, she left the schoolhouse to become an entrepreneur. She is the founder of a nonprofit program called Amazing Girls Science, which seeks to ignite a spark in young girls for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) while building self-confidence, self-esteem, curiosity and problem-solving skills. Barnett is the recipient of the 2017 AARP Purpose Prize, which honors extraordinary individuals who use their life experiences to make a better future for all.

Rick Berry 

Richard Berry is the former mayor of Albuquerque, N.M. He is a lifelong entrepreneur and a former state legislator who brought innovation, equity and inclusion to the forefront. On his watch, Albuquerque was ranked as one of the best-run large cities in America. He is known for his innovative approach, including teaching entrepreneurial skills to public sector employees. He has launched several initiatives that have helped to house more than 700 homeless people, earned a 98 percent on-time graduation rate for students and developed work opportunities while connecting people to social services. He is a TED speaker and was featured in the Washington Post as one of the most inspirational people of 2016.

John Bridgeland

John Bridgeland is founder & CEO of Civic Enterprises, vice chair of the Service Year Alliance at the Aspen Institute, Co-Convener of Grad Nation and vice chairman of Malaria No More. Previously, Bridgeland was appointed by President Obama to serve on the White House Council for Community Solutions. He also served as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Assistant to the President of the United States and first director of the USA Freedom Corps under President George W. Bush. He was a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Virginia School of Law. 

Donna Butts

Donna Butts has been the executive director of Generations United since 1997. Previously she served in leadership positions at the YWCA, National 4-H Council and Covenant House. Butts is an internationally known speaker, author and advocate. She has served on five United Nations expert panels and is a graduate of Stanford University’s Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders. She has been recognized three times by the NonProfit Times as one of the top 50 most powerful and influential nonprofit executives in the nation. In 2015, she was named one of the “Top 50 Influencers in Aging” by the Next Avenue journalism website.

Alejandra Castillo

Alejandra Y. Castillo is the chief executive officer (CEO) of YWCA USA, leading the organization’s network of 213 associations located in 46 states and Washington, D.C., and serving more than 2.2 million women and girls through a number of direct services and programs. With over two decades of professional experience in the District of Columbia, she has served in two presidential administrations. She is nationally recognized for her ability to build partnerships, achieve strategic goals, advocate for key policy priorities and strengthen the financial viability and sustainability of organizations. She serves on a number of national nonprofit boards of directors.  

Jennie Chin Hansen

Jennie Chin Hansen, former president of the AARP Board of Directors, is the immediate past CEO of the American Geriatrics Society. Prior service includes nearly 25 years with On Lok Inc., a family of community-based organizations helping seniors live independently for as long as possible. She serves on several boards, including the SCAN Foundation, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and Dignity Health. She also serves on the American Hospital Association (AHA) Equity of Care Committee, the national Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Gerontology and Geriatrics, and the Department of HHS’ National Institutes of Health-National Advisory Council on Aging. In 2011, Hansen completed a six-year term as a federal commissioner of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). She is also the 2015 National Influencer on Aging by PBS' Next Avenue. 

Yanira Cruz

Yanira Cruz is the president and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. In addition, she serves on the board of Justice in Aging and is a member of the Leaders of Aging Organizations (LAO) collaborative. She is also a founding member of the Diverse Elders Coalition. She is an executive member of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda. She previously served on the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services, which advise the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. She holds an adjunct faculty appointment at the George Washington University School of Public Health.

Daisy Expósito-Ulla

Daisy Expósito-Ulla is chairman and CEO of d expósito & Partners. Prior to founding her own agency over a decade ago, she was chairman/CEO of Young & Rubicam/WPP’s the Bravo Group, a company she helped launch and subsequently build during her 24-year tenure. She has achieved a transformational career in cross-cultural brand building, working with clients such as AT&T, Kraft Foods, Bank of America, Pfizer and Census 2000/2010. Among her current clients are McDonald's, AARP, Amica, the U.S. Army and Tajín. During her distinguished career, she has received numerous creative and professional awards such as the Matrix (NYWICI) and the Carnegie Corporation's Great Immigrant: Pride of America honor, the ADCOLOR Lifetime Achievement Award and her agency was named Agency of the Year by the AEF in 2015, a first for a multicultural and independent agency

Marc Freedman

Marc Freedman is founder and CEO of A former Visiting Scholar at Stanford, he is a member of the Wall Street Journal’s Experts panel, a frequent commentator in the national media and the author of four books, most recently The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife. Freedman cofounded Experience Corps and spearheaded the creation of the Purpose Prize. He has been honored as a Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the World Economic Forum, named one of the nation’s leading social entrepreneurs by Fast Company magazine three years in a row and honored with the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.  

Linda P. Fried

Linda P. Fried, dean of the Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health (since 2008), is a public health leader in the fields of epidemiology and geriatrics. She has dedicated her career to the science of healthy aging and defining how to transition to a world where greater longevity benefits people of all ages. Before coming to Columbia, Fried founded the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, directed the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, and held joint appointments as a professor in the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health. She is a member of National Academy of Medicine and is cochair of the World Economic Forum's Global Council on the Future of Human Enhancement and on the steering committee for their Council on Human Centric Health. Fried is the codesigner and cofounder of Experience Corps, an evidence-based program in which older volunteers serve in public schools in 22 cities, benefiting the academic success of children and health of the volunteers. 

John Gomperts

John Gomperts has been president and CEO at America’s Promise Alliance since 2012. Prior to joining America’s Promise, he served as the director of AmeriCorps. Over the course of his career, Gomperts has served in leadership roles in the U.S. Senate, the Corporation for National and Community Service,, and the Public Education Network, among others. He serves on the boards of FoodCorps, the News Literacy Project, and Politics and Prose Bookstore. Gomperts graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and earned his J.D. from Georgetown University.

W. Wilson Goode Sr.

W. Wilson Goode Sr. is the president and CEO of Amachi Inc., a nationally acclaimed faith-based program for mentoring children of incarcerated parents. Goode is also chairman and CEO of Self Inc. He is a senior fellow at the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2006, he won the Purpose Prize Award. In 1984, he became the first African American mayor of Philadelphia and served two terms. He was the first African American appointed as managing director for the City of Philadelphia and the first African American member and chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Maria Hinojosa

Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning news anchor and reporter who, in 2010, created the Futuro Media Group, an independent nonprofit organization producing multimedia journalism. She is also the executive producer and anchor of the Peabody Award–winning show Latino USA on NPR and of America by the Numbers With Maria Hinojosa on PBS. In 2016, Hinojosa became the host of In the Thick, Futuro Media’s political podcast, and Humanizing America, the company’s digital video series. Hinojosa’s nearly 30-year history as a journalist includes reporting for PBS, CBS, WNBC, CNN, NPR, Frontline, CBS Sunday Morning and the Emmy-winning talk show Maria Hinojosa: One on One.

Evan Hochberg

Evan Hochberg is the President of Crown Family Philanthropies where he leads the impact and family engagement efforts of one of the most charitable families in the world. Evan has held a number of leadership positions across the social sector including Chief Strategy Officer at United Way Worldwide, National Director of Corporate Citizenship at Deloitte, and Managing Director at Community Wealth Partners a leading social innovation consulting firm.  His early career included experiences as a management consultant at Booz-Allen and Hamilton as well as nonprofit program positions at Melwood, March of Dimes, and the Phoenix Center for Education.  Evan has a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MMHS from the Heller Graduate School at Brandeis University.

Beverly Johnson

Beverly Johnson is the founder, chairwoman and CEO of Beverly Johnson Enterprises. She was the first black model featured on the cover of American Vogue and has appeared on more than 500 magazine covers. The New York Times recognized her as one of the “20th Century’s 100 Most Influential People in the Fashion Industry.” Her portrait was part of the Black List, a photographic assembly of 50 of the most influential African Americans in America that was on display in 2011 and 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Johnson’s philanthropic activities include being an AIDS activist, a member of the board of directors of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center for Abused Children and a spokesperson for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

Jamal Joseph

Jamal Joseph credits the time he spent as a youth in the Black Panther Party and Leavenworth Federal Prison as the fire that forged his creative sword. He is a professor of Professional Practice and the former chair of Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program. He is an accomplished screenwriter and director, and as an artist/activist, he has worked in film, theater, spoken word, music and books. His memoir Panther Baby, based on his experiences as a youth in the Black Panther Party, was published by Algonquin Books. He is also the author of Tupac Legacy, an interactive biography about Tupac Shakur. He is the cofounder and artistic director of IMPACT, a Harlem-based youth theatre company, and executive director of New Heritage Films, a not-for-profit organization that provides training and opportunities for minority filmmakers. He has received a CINE Golden Eagle, a Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Award, a Union Square Award, the Purpose Prize and a best song Oscar nomination for the film August Rush.

Gopi Kallayil

Gopi Kallayil is the Chief Evangelist, Brand Marketing at Google. He works with Google's sales teams and customers and helps grow customer brands through digital marketing. In his prior roles at Google, he led the marketing team for the company's flagship advertising product AdWords both in the Americas and Asia Pacific. His book, The Internet to the Inner-net, was recently published by Hay House. Learn more at


Sherry Lansing

During nearly 30 years in the movie business, Sherry Lansing was involved in the production, marketing and distribution of more than 200 films, including Academy Award winners Forrest Gump, Braveheart and Titanic. In 1992 she was named chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. In 1980 she was appointed president of 20th Century Fox, becoming the first woman to head a major film studio. As CEO of the nonprofit Sherry Lansing Foundation since 2005, Lansing’s missions are cancer research, public education and encore career opportunities. She is a cofounder of Stand Up To Cancer and founder of the EnCorps STEM Teachers Program.


Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a MacArthur prize-winning sociologist, is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University. She is the author of 11 books, including Exit, The Third Chapter, Respect, The Essential Conversation and Balm in Gilead, which won the 1988 Christopher Award for “literary merit and humanitarian achievement.” In 1993, she was awarded Harvard’s George Ledlie Prize for research that makes “the most valuable contribution to science” and is to “the benefit of mankind.” She is the recipient of 31 honorary degrees and is the first African American woman in Harvard’s history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor.

Michelle Nunn

Michelle Nunn is president/CEO of CARE USA, a poverty-fighting and leading humanitarian organization working in more than 90 countries. She has spent 27 years in civic and public service, as a social entrepreneur, CEO for volunteer nonprofits Hands On Atlanta and Points of Light, and a candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia. The NonProfit Times has named her seven times to its annual Power and Influence Top 50 list, and Georgia Trend magazine named her one of its 100 Most Influential Georgians. 

Peter Osnos

Peter Osnos is the founder of PublicAffairs Books, which marks its 20th anniversary this year. He was previously a correspondent and editor at the Washington Post. He was a vice-president and publisher at Random House Inc. Osnos has been associated with the Encore program from its inception and PublicAffairs has published three books by Marc Freedman, chairman of He has also been a judge of the Purpose Prize for the decade since it was launched. He has served on the boards of a number of nonprofits including Human Rights Watch and the International Center for Journalism.

Clarence Page

Clarence Page, the 1989 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary, is a columnist syndicated nationally by Tribune Content Agency and a member of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. He also has been a regular contributor of essays to the PBS NewsHour, a panelist on the McLaughlin Group, MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, ABC's Nightline, BET's Lead Story news panel programs and a commentator on NPR and WGN-TV. He received lifetime achievement awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the Chicago Headline Club and the National Association of Black Journalists. In 1992, he was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame.  

Annise Parker

Victory Fund and Victory Institute President & CEO Annise Parker is the first former elected official to lead the organizations, having served six years as a Houston City Council member, six years as City Controller, and six years as Mayor of the city. She was the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a major American city.

Mayor Parker has been involved in Victory Fund and Victory Institute since its founding. She was endorsed by Victory Fund in all her successful campaigns for elected office, served on the board of directors, is an alum of Victory Institute’s Candidate & Campaign Training, and is a former Victory Institute David Bohnett Leaders Fellow.

Holly Robinson Peete

Actress, author, talk show host, activist and philanthropist Holly Robinson Peete’s career as an actress dates back more than three decades. Robinson Peete’s career took off on the Fox television drama 21 Jump Street, and then continued with several other successful television series, including Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, For Your Love and Mike & Molly. Robinson Peete can currently be seen alongside her family in the critically acclaimed docu-series For Peete’s Sake on the OWN network. In 1997, she and her husband, former NFL player Rodney Peete, formed HollyRod Foundation, inspired by her father’s courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease, with the mission to help improve the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s disease. In 2005, inspired by their eldest son’s autism diagnosis, HollyRod Foundation’s mission expanded to provide support and resources to those affected by an autism diagnosis. 

Katherina M. Rosqueta

Katherina M. Rosqueta is the founding executive director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, a multidisciplinary center that provides public information, education and advisory services so that philanthropy achieves greater social impact. A frequent speaker on philanthropy and social impact, her work and comments have been cited in numerous media outlets including the New York Times, National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal and Money magazine. She has held numerous civic leadership positions, currently serving on the board of GuideStar and as cochair of GreenLight Fund Philadelphia.

Kimon Sargeant

Kimon Sargeant is Vice President, Programs at the John Templeton Foundation. He oversees the Human Sciences, Character Virtue Development, and Individual Freedom & Free Markets departments. Sargeant is responsible for developing new initiatives on virtues such as generosity, purpose and gratitude, as well as projects that analyze global trends in religion and spirituality. Previously Sargeant served as a program officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts. He is the author of Seeker Churches: Promoting Traditional Religion in a Nontraditional Way and coeditor of Spirit and Power: The Growth and Global Impact of Pentecostalism.

Kurt L. Schmoke 

Kurt L. Schmoke was appointed as the University of Baltimore’s eighth president as of July 7, 2014. Schmoke served as the mayor of Baltimore from 1987 to 1999 and was the Baltimore City State’s Attorney from 1982 to 1987. Prior to joining UB, he was dean of the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., from 2003 to 2012. Following that, he was appointed general counsel for Howard and also served as the institution’s interim provost. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush awarded him the National Literacy Award for his efforts to promote adult literacy. Two years later, President Bill Clinton praised his programs aimed at improving public housing and enhancing community-based economic development. Schmoke earned his undergraduate degree in history from Yale University. He pursued graduate studies on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School.

Timothy Shriver

Timothy Shriver serves as chairman of Special Olympics. Before joining Special Olympics in 1996, Shriver was and remains a leading educator focusing on the social and emotional factors in learning. He cofounded and chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading school reform organization in the field of social and emotional learning. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, cochairman of the National Commission on Social and Emotional Learning, president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, member of the board of directors for the WPP Group LLC and is a co-founder of Lovin’ Scoopful Ice Cream Company. Shriver earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, a master's degree from Catholic University and a doctorate in education from the University of Connecticut.  

Donnie Simpson

Donnie Simpson is a trailblazer and a true media legend. His career in radio started at age 15 in Detroit. At 23 he headed to Washington D.C. where he had tremendous success in radio and TV. Billboard magazine named him their #1 Program Director of The Year, and Air Personality of The Year in 1983.

In 1981, Donnie paved his way into television history when he became one of the nation’s first video jockeys as host of BET’s ultra-popular Video Soul program. In 2014, he was the only non-musician inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame.

Wendy Spencer

Wendy Spencer serves as the president of Leadership Florida. She just completed a five-year term as the chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS is the federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service each year through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and general volunteering in every state. From 2003 to 2012, she served Governors Rick Scott, Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush as the CEO of the Florida Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism. She has served on numerous local, state and national boards and councils, including the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation under President George W. Bush, and as chair of the American Association of State Service Commissions. Before joining Volunteer Florida, she served as the director of the Florida Park Service and has held positions within the private sector, nonprofits and legislative work. She holds a B.A. in Fine Arts and Speech Communications from Valdosta State University.

Susan Taylor

Best-selling author Susan L. Taylor is a fourth-generation entrepreneur. At 24, she founded her own cosmetics company, which led to the beauty editor’s position at Essence, the publication she would go on to shape into a world-renowned brand with more than 8 million readers. It was that enterprising spirit wedded to a deep love for her community, that led to the founding of the National CARES Mentoring Movement (originally known as Essence Cares) in 2006. A community mobilization movement, National CARES is the only organization dedicated to providing mentoring, healing and wellness services on a national scale for black children.

Marlo Thomas

Marlo Thomas is an actress, author and activist who has been awarded four Emmys, the Peabody, a Golden Globe, a Grammy and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a civilian can receive. She burst onto the scene as That Girl, television’s first independent working woman, and went on to create the historic children’s record, book and TV special Free to Be ... You and Me. She remains a constant presence on television and the Broadway stage and has produced seven bestselling books, including The Right Words at the Right Time and her memoir, Growing Up Laughing. She is national outreach director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and is married to talk show pioneer Phil Donahue.

Antonio Tijerino

Antonio Tijerino is president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, which focuses on education, workforce development and community service through connectivity, innovation, leadership and cultural pride. Under Tijerino’s leadership, HHF is recognized as a creative, agile, impact-focused organization that boasts a network of 150,000 vetted Latinos (15- to 35-year-olds) mobilized in the STEM fields, entrepreneurship, finance, media and other priority areas for America. Tijerino also serves as executive producer of the star-studded Hispanic Heritage Awards broadcast on PBS stations. Prior to HHF, Tijerino worked at Fannie Mae Foundation, Nike, and Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe.

Linda Watt

Linda Watt is a spiritual director, Latin America expert and nonprofit board member. She served as chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church, and was U.S. Ambassador to Panama, the culmination of a 29-year career as a Foreign Service Officer. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Belizean Grove and has served on prominent nonprofit boards, including Episcopal Relief and Development and Pro Mujer. On behalf of, she explored how faith communities support the efforts of people over 50 to effect positive societal change. She serves on the Episcopal Church’s task force for relations with the church in Cuba. Linda and her husband, Leo Duncan, live in Asheville, N.C.

David Winston

David Winston is president of the Winston Group, a Washington, D.C., strategic planning and survey research firm. Winston has been an advisor to congressional Republican leadership for over 15 years and was the keynote speaker at the 2012 G8 Presiding Officer summit. He was formerly director of planning for Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and advises center-right political parties throughout Europe. In the private sector, he advises Fortune 100 companies on strategic planning and brand reputation. His writings have appeared in a variety of publications. Winston played a key role in developing the 2010 election cycle narrative “where are the jobs” and is an election analyst for CBS News.