Jo Ann Jenkins is chief executive officer of the world’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to social change and helping people 50 and over to improve the quality of their lives. Prior to her appointment as CEO, Jenkins served as chief operating officer for the organization, leading an enterprise-wide strategy to define priorities, align processes and allocate resources in support of Americans 50-plus and their families.
Jenkins, a proven innovator, joined AARP in 2010 as president of AARP Foundation, AARP’s affiliated charity. She led that organization’s far-reaching development and social impact initiatives including Drive to End Hunger, a national effort by AARP and AARP Foundation to help the millions of older Americans who struggle with hunger every day. Under her leadership, the foundation’s overall donor base increased by 90 percent over two years. Prior to joining AARP Foundation, she served on the board of directors of AARP Services Inc., beginning in 2004 and becoming its chair in 2008.
With more than 25 years of extensive leadership, management, planning and business experience and a strong sense of social mission, she has repeatedly transformed organizations and led innovative policies at top levels of the nonprofit, philanthropic and public sectors. She is an award-winning leader and insightful manager known for her ability to set priorities and get things done.
She came to AARP Foundation from the Library of Congress, where she had been chief operating officer, responsible for managing the library’s day-to-day operations, its 4,000-person staff and its budget in excess of $1 billion. During her 15-year tenure at the Library of Congress, she developed and directed two of its most renowned projects, the National Book Festival and the Library of Congress Experience, the largest and most complex program in the library’s 210-year history. In May 2010, she was recognized by the technology industry with the 11th annual Women in Technology Leadership Award for her innovative work on the Library of Congress Experience. She is also a recipient of the Library of Congress Distinguished Service Award.
From 1990 to 1993, she directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Advocacy and Enterprise. She began her federal government career in May 1981 at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and in 1985 joined the Department of Transportation. She was a delegate and founding fellow to the U.S.-Japan Leadership Program and a 1999 graduate of Leadership America. She is a Malcolm Baldrige fellow (2013), recipient of the 2013 Black Women’s Agenda Economic Development Award for spearheading investments undergirding innovative social impact programs, and one of the NonProfit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50 for 2013 and 2014.
A native of Mobile, Ala., she earned her B.A. from Spring Hill College there. She is a 1998 graduate of the Stanford Executive Program, offered by the university’s Graduate School of Business, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters by Washington College in May 2014.