Itching to Fix Ageism?

When I came to ASA a few years ago, I knew nothing about aging except for my personal experiences, which largely focused on a recent decision to not dye my hair anymore and noticing that I had new wrinkles. Since then, it feels as though I have been in a Master Class taught by some of the most incredible colleagues I have ever had, members who often don’t even realize the gifts they bestow upon us and partners whose work and thought leadership is unparalleled.

I have the unique job at ASA of managing three departments, which I jokingly call Money, Marketing and Members. It is a special privilege to be able to work every day to ensure ASA has the funding necessary to meet our mission and vision to unite, empower and champion all of those who work with and for older adults.

That said, my favorite part of the job is spending time working with our members. I have met luminaries in the field, and I have met students just starting out. I have met caregivers and storytellers and advocates, and from each I learn more than I could begin to tell you.

It was because we so value our members’ expertise and experience that last year ASA introduced our member-led Advisory Councils. We developed five councils, each one focusing on a different ASA priority area, with one simple instruction: Do something.

The world was their oyster because we trusted our members to know what was needed most and how best to tackle it.

We’ll be highlighting their work throughout the year, and you are invited to get involved. In fact, our Ageism and Culture Advisory Council is on Sept. 7 kicking off ASA’s involvement in Ageism Awareness Day on Oct. 7.

Under the leadership of co-chairs Helen Dennis and Rebecca Morgan, Council members Barbara Meltzer, Beth Long Higgins and Barbara Croyle spearheaded the creation of a press release and Opinion piece, an ageism fact sheet, calls to action, and a social media badge … all meant to assist ASA’s 5,000+ members in combating ageism and driving age inclusion in their communities no matter the size, geography or locality.

ASA’s community is stunning in its diversity and differences. As the largest multidisciplinary organization in aging, we are reminded that each of our members bring their varied experiences to support one another. That is what is so exciting about this particular initiative. It is designed to support your work and move the needle on an issue we can all agree is far too pervasive, while allowing you to personalize and own it.

I hope you will join us on Sept. 7 for a Members Only event led by the Ageism and Culture Advisory Council members to discuss how we can advocate for ageism awareness together on Oct. 7.

And if you want to do more and be more at ASA, we hope you will consider taking on a volunteer leadership position with us. At its core, ASA is a membership organization, and we exist to support our members as they work to make an impact in our diverse, wonderful aging society.

Cindy Morris is ASA’s vice president of Community Development and Engagement.