Wanted: New Voices from New Places!

About five years ago, after a long career as a corporate lawyer and then as a nonprofit leader, I entered a field that goes by many names — aging, longevity, the encore movement. (Names in this area are all over the place, but that’s another story.) I was struck, like so many before me, by the great opportunity represented by the longer lives millions of us will enjoy. It’s often called the “longevity bonus.”

At Encore.org where I now serve as Senior Advisor (after having served as President), we are working to elevate a new narrative about aging as an opportunity, not a problem — and of people in the encore stage of life as an asset, an enormous army of problem solvers.

Getting older is something we’ll all do. But we won’t all be doing it in the same way, having the same experiences, or using the same language. And the only way to uncover the best ideas for living longer lives of purpose and engagement is by engaging more voices — and more diverse voices — in that conversation.

Which is why I’m thrilled to be partnering with Encore.org and The OpEd Project on a new initiative, The Encore Public Voices Project (EPV). EPV will provide a diverse group of 20 leaders of all ages with the opportunity to develop their thinking and writing on purpose and engagement in the second half of life. Participants – we’ll call them Fellows – will be a mix of community leaders, activists, writers, educators, researchers, corporate executives and more. During the course of their fellowship they will be provided with the expert support they need to inform and influence the public debate on these critical topics, as we become a nation of more older than younger.

Last year I got a chance to experience firsthand what the OpEd Project does and why the model is so effective at lifting up voices we don’t usually hear. I was lucky to be part of a Ford Public Voices Fellowship consisting of social justice leaders, the majority of whom were women and people of color. During that year I learned a huge amount, from both the teachers and from my peers, and I did indeed hone my voice while having several opinion pieces published. And I was so impressed by the caliber of the program that I decided to approach Encore and the OpEd Project about this partnership.

Can you help us find the right people? We are looking for:

  • individuals working on post-midlife purpose and engagement who want bring their voice and ideas to a bigger stage.
  • diversity in terms of age, race, religion, sector and areas of expertise or focus (half of the cohort will consist of people of color).
  • a mix of emerging and established thought leaders.
  • people who are serious about their commitment to becoming public voices in this space.

Fellows will get generous support through the OpEd Project Fellowship model, which includes:

  • Four day-long interactive seminars (in NYC) designed to expand thinking and amplify expertise. (One will be a day and a half).
  • Two dedicated facilitators (top journalists) who provide one-on-one editing and coaching.
  • Monthly calls with media insiders (including: TED, NYT, CNN, Wikipedia).
  • Ongoing support from volunteer mentor-editors for the fellowship year.
  • An introduction and grounding in the encore movement, an action-oriented group of leaders who view experienced adults as an asset for society.

Applications close June 22th. Learn more and apply here. (Note: A travel stipend is available for those who need it.)