231st Commencement to Honor Top AARP Exec
CHESTERTOWN, MD—The woman recently chosen to take the reins of one of the nation’s largest and most powerful nonprofit advocacy groups will receive an honorary degree and address graduates at Washington College’s 231st Commencement, Saturday, May 17, 2014.
Jo Ann Jenkins, current executive vice president and chief operating officer of AARP and former president of its charitable arm, AARP Foundation, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the ceremony, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on the Campus Lawn.
On May 13, the AARP Board of Directors named Jenkins as the organization’s next CEO, effective September 1, 2014. She will replace outgoing CEO A. Barry Rand in the top leadership spot.
(The outdoor commencement, where Jenkins will speak, is open to the public; but in inclement weather, it will move into the Johnson Fitness Center as a ticketed event.)
Jo Ann Jenkins is known as an innovative and strategic thinker and an inspiring leader. She assumed the position of COO of AARP in March of 2013. Among her responsibilities for the organization, which boasts nearly 38 million members in all fifty states, are strategic planning, technology and digital operations, with a particular expertise on women’s issues and intergenerational programs.
As the head of AARP Foundation until November, 2013, the results-oriented Jenkins developed and oversaw programs that have improved the lives of millions of Americans, fighting hunger, poverty, isolation, and unemployment among older adults and contributing millions of dollars to disaster relief. In her first two years at the Foundation, she grew its overall donor base by 90 percent.
A key AARP Foundation initiative launched under Jenkins is Mentor Up, which encourages tech-savvy young people to partner with older adults who need help learning how to use tech devices, computer software, and social media apps. Launched in Oregon, the Mentor Up program rolled out earlier this year in three other states: Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas.
Prior to joining AARP in 2010, Jenkins served fifteen years at the Library of Congress, most recently as Chief Operating Officer, responsible for managing the day-to-day operations, a staff of 4,000, and a budget of $600 million. She is credited with developing and directing two of the Library’s most successful projects—the National Book Festival that has brought readers and authors together each fall since 2001, and the Library of Congress Experience, which shares many of the Library’s most impressive artifacts with visitors through highly interactive computer kiosks and exhibitions. The Experience was described as the largest and most complex program ever created in the Library’s 210-year history. Soon after it opened in 2009, the Washington Post wrote, “The Library may be the most technologically enhanced tourist site in Washington.” Jenkins earned the 2011 Women in Technology Award for her leadership role in developing the Experience.
Earlier in her Washington career, Jenkins worked in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, and the USDA. A graduate of Spring Hill College in her native Mobile, Ala., she completed the Stanford Executive Program offered by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and is a 2013 Malcolm Baldrige Fellow, having completed the prestigious Baldrige Executive Fellows Program in leadership and management. The NonProfit Times named Jenkins as one of its “Power and Influence Top 50” for 2013.