Innovation, Diversity Key Themes as Stuen Starts New Term

Article excerpt


In my last column, I wrote about the sage advice and guidance I received from Robyn Golden, who served as chair of the American Society on Aging (ASA) board of directors during my first year as the association 's president and CEO. Robyn, who completed her term in March, now chairs ASA 's Public Policy Committee and Nominating Committee, and continues on the board. In this issue, I want to tell you about Cynthia Stuen, ASA 's new board chair for 2008-2010, who accepted the gavel from Robyn during ASA 's annual conference in Washington, D.C., in March.

The senior vice president for policy and professional affairs at Lighthouse International in New York City, Cynthia is one of the foremost experts on vision impairment and older adults in the United States. At Lighthouse, Cynthia over sees the Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute, its Center on Education and its policy and advocacy work.

Cynthia, who holds a doctorate in social work from Columbia University, has focused on issues in gerontology throughout her career. Her long list of publications, presentations, educational endeavors and research covers topics of age-related sensory loss, access to environments for older adults with impaired vision, and contributions older adults and their families and friends can make to program planning and service delivery. Not only a distinguished researcher, Cynthia also is known as an avid public-policy advocate for older adults at national, state and local levels. Furthermore, she is involved in international efforts to preserve sight and prevent excess disability resulting from vision impairment.

Currently, at the Lighthouse, she is the principal investigator on a federal grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality titled "Creating an Evidence Base for Vision Rehabilitation." In addition, Cynthia is consulting on a Lighthouse grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to offer innovative online training for vision rehabilitation paraprofessionals.

Widely published in the field, Cynthia was a co-guest editor of the issue of ASA's journal Generations titled "Aging and the Senses " (Spring 2003). She has also served as cochair of the Aging Today editorial board. In addition, Cynthia was a chapter author for the awardwinning Lighthouse Handbook on Vision Impairment and Vision Rehabilitation (New York City: Oxford University Press, 2000) and edited its section titled "Rehabilitation of Older Adults With Vision Impairment."

A fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and the Gerontological Society of America (GSA), Cynthia also was honored with ASA 's Leadership Award in 2005.1 could go on about her accomplishments, but I'd rather let you readabout herworkwithASA, and her passion, inher own words. I asked Cynthia to reflect on her more than 20 years as a member and a leader of ASA, and her thoughts follow.

-Robert G. Stein

ASA President and CEO

It is a privilege to be chair of the American Society on Aging. I joined ASA about the time it became a national organization in 1985, when ASA changed its name from the Western Gerontological Society. I found a community of likeminded professionals at ASA, and early on I became involved with ASA's Education Committee. At that time, I was at Columbia University finishing my doctorate. I developed the Seniors Teaching Seniors program there and a project to involve retired faculty. Additionally, I learned that ASA wanted to develop partnerships with state societies on aging, and I was active in the New York State Society on Aging.

At first I worked with the Lifelong Learning Network, which would evolve into ASA's Lifetime Education and Renewal Network (LEARN). Those years were the era when college for seniors, lifelong learning institutes and similar programs for older-adult education were taking shape along with an interest in intergenerational learning opportunities. …