- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

Spotlighting the the AARP Foundation’s educational and outreach programs has been one of Jerry Florence’s top priorities since taking over as director in May.

“I’m always surprised by how many [people] just really don’t know about the foundation and the benefits that we bring to society and people 50-plus,” said Mr. Florence, 56, who also serves as the foundation’s associate executive director for membership.

The AARP Foundation is the charity arm of the AARP, a nonprofit organization and lobbying group with nearly 36 million members 50 and older. As director of the foundation, Mr. Florence oversees a staff of 200 and is responsible for managing financial and strategic planning for the foundation and carrying out goals set by its board of directors.

One of the group’s most visible efforts is its Tax-Aide program, which helps members file income taxes free of charge. Last year, the organization helped file 1.9 million tax returns, Mr. Florence said.

The group also helps taxpayers obtain the earned income tax credit, of which many members are not aware, Mr. Florence said.

“One of the things that the AARP Foundation is very good about is providing information and access to things that people need and want, and many times don’t know they’re eligible for,” he said.

The foundation also provides job training and education through its Senior Community Service Employment Program, which helps low-income retirees return to the work force. The organization is funded partially by a grant from the U.S. Labor Department.

“There are a lot of people out there who really want to work but have not kept up with the skill sets and [are] now competing against a much more skilled work force,” Mr. Florence said.

Colleagues say Mr. Florence has infused new energy into the organization.

“He’s a great people manager and he believes strongly in staff development and in diversity,” said Robin Talbert, managing director of the AARP Foundation.

Mr. Florence brings to the foundation more than 25 years of experience in management, brand marketing, sales and strategic planning. He was general director of marketing and product planning for General Motors’ Cadillac division from 1991 to 1993, and then vice president of communications and strategic development with Nissan Motor Co. until 1998.

He also served as senior vice president of communications for Sempra Energy and started E-MedNet Inc., a provider of online medical records.

Mr. Florence has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wichita State University and an executive management certificate from Pennsylvania State University. He his wife, Winifred, live in Bethesda.

— Andrew Johnson

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