By Stein, Robert G.
Aging Today , Vol. 29, No. 6
I've noticed that aging in community has been a recurring theme in the field lately. The recent-and very successful-West Coast Conference on Aging featured a full-day program on the topic, and this thread is woven through many of the session proposals submitted for the 2009 Aging in America Conference of the American Society on Aging (ASA) and National Council on Aging (NCOA).
Older adults need community support to remain in their homes and to maximize their quality of life. Similarly, the professionals helping elders need the strength of community-to improve their services and share the latest research and information about critical new developments in aging. ASA aims to be that professional community for its members.
Travel, of course, isn't always an option for those who are geographically separated. So ASA is bringing new resources, energy and focus to our members by producing more Web seminars and creating a series of online learning communities where members can meet to explore key interests.
During the coming year, we will develop an online community for each of the constituent groups-such as the Healthcare and Aging Network and the Business Forum on Aging-which serve as virtual neighborhoods within ASA. Members can participate in as many constituent groups as they like for no additional cost.
An ASA community of which I am especially proud is New Ventures in Leadership (NVL), ASA's national training program for professionals of color. In the 15 years since we created NVL, more than 300 partners (as participants are called) have graduated from the one-year leadership program. Many have been mentors to subsequent partners, and quite a few have emerged as leaders in the field. I recently spent a wonderful week with the current class of NVL partners during the leadership development program in Washington, D.C.
In the coming months, ASA will also unveil several online communities called Knowledge Networks. Similar to Facebook social networks, ASA Knowledge Networks will enable members to share their expertise, ideas and resources through interactive communities. Members who join a network will be able to post professional information and personal updates, including photos and brief biographical sketches. The networks will provide a hub for Web seminars and other online learning opportunities.
Not long ago, ASA launched an online community for current NVL partners to share ideas and review each other's projects more regularly. The new online tool will help them to supplement the face-to-face interactions they have with one another only three times during the yearlong program with daily electronic contact.
I am very pleased to announce that ASA has received a grant from The Archstone Foundation to fund two programs, one addressing elder abuse and another providing new applied research in fall prevention. This grant will come to life in the form of two dynamic programs on diese topics at the 2009 Aging in America Conference, convening in Las Vegas, March 15-19. To learn more about these programs and to register for the conference, visit www.agingconference.org.
Speaking of the conference, watch your mail for the advance program announcement. A new feature will be a fullday program called National Forum on Civic Engagement, scheduled for Monday, March 16. Funded in part by a grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies, this program will be limited to 300 participants and will focus on the winter 2007 issue of ASA's journal, Generations, tided "Civic Engagement in Later Life." The day will be co-facilitated by Marc Freedman, president of Civic Ventures in San Francisco, and Nancy MorrowHowell of Washington University, St. Louis. The morning will open with a presentation by former ASA board chair Jennie Chin Hansen, president of the AARP board of directors, on volunteerism in communities of color. …