In 2010 Jo Ann was hired as president of AARP Foundation, and in March 2013 I hired her as AARP's chief operating officer. She has done a superb job in both positions. While she was COO at the Library of Congress before coming to AARP, she served on — and later chaired — the board of AARP Services Inc., our taxable subsidiary whose income supports AARP's social mission.
She will be an excellent steward of the legacy of our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, and a dynamic leader of AARP.
When I came to AARP in 2009, I decided we would focus our efforts in three areas: access to affordable, quality health care; financial security; and helping people live their best lives. How did we do?
It was an intense battle, but Congress adopted the Affordable Care Act, which now provides insurance to millions of people who previously did not have access to affordable health coverage. AARP has been instrumental in helping people understand the law and take advantage of the benefits it offers.
AARP has been vigilant — and successful — in reminding our elected officials just how important and necessary Social Security and Medicare are to people's lives. We successfully fought off attempts to make harmful cuts to these programs, in large part because you — our 37 million members — made your voices heard in Washington through the You've Earned a Say campaign.
We created Life Reimagined to help people live their best lives and adapt to a fast-changing world. For those facing a change or simply dreaming of something more, Life Reimagined provides a network of people, tools and information to help navigate life's transitions. It encourages them to rethink what's possible — in work, relationships, health, personal finance and more.
I'm also proud of our work to make communities more livable and age-friendly; our Drive to End Hunger among seniors; and AARP Experience Corps, our mentoring program to ensure that children are reading at grade level by third grade. And I'm pleased that we are making AARP more responsive to people in their states and communities, not just in Washington. We've come a long way in helping people to realize that their life experience has value and that, as they get older, their lives remain filled with real possibilities.
What I love about AARP most are the social mission and the people. Enhancing the quality of life for all as we age is inspiring work, made even more so by the people we meet along the way. I loved meeting you, our members, either in person at AARP events or through the letters and emails you sent me. I don't think I will ever forget my first Life@50+ event in Las Vegas. In my keynote speech, I told people to stop and give me a hug if they saw me around the exhibit hall. It took me over an hour just to get from one side of the exhibit floor to the other as AARP members came up to give me a hug, wish me well and tell me what was on their minds. That experience served as a constant reminder that I was working for all of you.
AARP is now in the capable hands of Jo Ann Jenkins. She and I share a belief that age and experience can expand everyone's possibilities. I know she feels a great responsibility for ensuring that AARP remains a trusted ally for people 50-plus and their families, and that we continue to protect the most vulnerable among us.
Serving you has been a tremendous experience and privilege. Thank you.
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