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“Your age,” insisted AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, “is only a number.” Yet if there is strength in numbers, the statistics are overwhelming: over 10,000 people turn 65 every day.

An audience of all ages gathered for the Spring 2018 Investors Circle gathering at the Hotel John Marshall to hear what Jenkins had to say about aging. Like other speakers from previous Investors Circle events, Jenkins is a nationally-known figure. She has headed AARP since 2014 and moved the organization into the arena of social change. The evening’s message – further explained in Jenkins’ book Disrupt Aging – was that people can, and should, choose how they live and age. AARP, she declared, was concerned with more than discounts and insurance. It was all about creating a future where people could age with dignity and purpose. 

Jenkins met Dean Ed Grier two years ago through their service on The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation board. When he asked her to speak to the Investors Circle, she readily said yes. The two sat comfortably on stage, in armchairs side-by-side.

Marketing major Isaiah Harvin, the enthusiastic student who opened the program, called the event “one of the big highlights of my senior year” and took Jenkins’ words to heart. “We’re all going to have to adjust retirement standards,” he agreed, “starting with me today.”

Mary Ann Steiner (B.S.’98/MGMT), a School of Business graduate and Investors Circle member, is herself an example of the new “ageless society” Jenkins is promoting. Retired from Capital One, she now volunteers full-time for SCORE, using her business skills to advise and mentor startups and existing small businesses. 

Steiner has attended Investors Circle events regularly since the very first one. “I have a responsibility as an alum to do what I can to pay back,” she says, “But frankly, these events are more for my own pleasure and learning. It’s always a current topic. They get great speakers, and it’s also a good way for me to reconnect with other alums.”

And while Steiner personally watches older people reinvent themselves through SCORE, she can’t help but eye the younger generation as well. “I enjoy seeing the students at these events,” she says. “That Isaiah is definitely going places! It’s wonderful to see the caliber and strength of the VCU student body today.” 

And, as Jenkins predicts – well into the future.

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