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Highlights from's 2013 Conference - Leading the Encore Movement

March 1, 2013

Highlights from 2013 Conference Leading the Encore Movement

Earlier this month, 150 leaders of the Encore movement gathered in San Francisco to celebrate the 2012 Purpose Prize winners, learn from experts on the encore stage of life and fast-forward collaborations among our organizations. In the four years since I attended my first conference, I’ve seen tremendous growth in our movement, and the good news is that our opportunities are still infinite.

Laura Carstensen, Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, set the tone for the conference with her “Encore and the Longevity Revolution” presentation.  Demographic changes are turning the US from an age pyramid (a few older people and many younger people) to an age rectangle (lots of older people and fewer young people).  In 2016, for the first time, America will have more people over 60 than under 16.  Carstensen focuses on culture change; she observed that we’re still living in a culture focused on people in their 30s and 40s, reflecting 20th century demographics but as 77 million baby boomers age, a new culture will take shape.

Carstensen believes that boomers will foster positive social change.  She noted that we are the most educated generation in American history and cited studies showing that older people are more accepting, forgiving and satisfied with their lives than younger people.  Older people are living longer AND healthier lives.  Carstensen sees our cohort of tens of millions of educated, emotionally stable, healthy people as a new resource for society – the beginning of a culture promoting good quality of life for all ages and undreamt-of opportunities for the second half of life led by the encore movement.

Other thought-provoking speakers included Annabel Warr, Encore Futures UK and Moira Allen, European Voices for Active Aging who are bringing the US’s encore movement to Europe; Huffington Post-50 editor Shelly Emling, who commented that boomers are “optimistic, innovative and agents of change whose mantra is ‘I’m not done!’” and Coming of Age’s Dick Goldberg, who offered a slightly tongue-in-cheek proposal to create the Encore Monologues, a theater piece that would dramatize second act stories.

TTN’s presence at the conference: leaders, catalysts, role models - TTN women were well-represented at the conference, not surprisingly since women leading encore activities understand the value of TTN’s community.  Chapter leads/active members at the conference included Mara Mayor (DC co-chair, former AARP board member and Senior Fellow), Luanne Mullin (Bay Area co-chair) and Allison Taylor (Philadelphia, a facilitator in the chapter's BounceBackAbility program); Advisory Board members Ruth Wooden (former board chair), Suzanne Braun Levine (author of three books on women in second adulthood) and Judy Goggin (Elderhostel co-founder and Vice President).  Other members included: Life Planning Network VP Mary Radu; Senior Advisor for’s higher education activities – Ellen Babby; Feisty Side of Fifty founder Eileen Williams; journalist/author/AARP jobs expert Kerry Hannon and Project Renewment co-founder and national expert on aging, employment and retirement Helen Dennis.

TTN plays a special role in the encore world since our chapters are catalysts for women to launch their own encore activities. Several speakers recognized our success at attracting members and launching new chapters; women from Phoenix, Portland and Boston asked how they could bring TTN to their communities. As one speaker said “The mark of a good leader is not creating followers, it’s creating more leaders” - that’s an area where TTN excels.

And we’re role models for this new phase of life.  Journalists applauded TTN for being a rich resource – we can usually find a member who’s living the story they want to write about.

Resources – I left the conference with a long list of websites and books on work, transitions, self-renewal, finances and how nonprofits are creating positive change. Click here to deepen your knowledge of those topics.

What’s next - Each year, the Encore conference is a springboard for new TTN opportunities.  Here’s my short list from the 2013 meeting:
  • Raise TTN’s visibility with a cross-marketing piece that showcases the work of a dozen positive aging organizations (the Encore Network) so a woman in Georgia who goes to the Coming of Age website can find out about our Atlanta chapter.  That piece will become part of our website this spring, giving TTN members an easy way to learn about additional resources in your communities.
  • Lay the foundation for new chapters by introducing the Boston conference participants to that local leadership team, and keep in touch with the Phoenix group.
  • Learn more about this vast field by reading John Gardner’s book on self-renewal and signing up for Huffington Post-50 daily e-mails.
  • Develop TTN programs with conference experts on financial issues, transitions and positive aging.
Every TTN member should feel proud that our colleagues consider us such a success story. We attract vibrant members who embody the best of the encore phase, and all of you vibrant members have been the springboard for our growth into a national organization.  As Ruth Wooden said in her closing remarks, “your life and your personal example are the best way to advance our movement.”