Members Say it Best
Building communities of lifelong learners calls for many advocates. Often, Osher members and volunteers are the most credible and persuasive voices in appeals for attention and support, particularly among peer members or older adults. OLLIs accomplish this in a multitude of ways.

The Osher Institute at the University of Utah has participated in “U Giving Day” for five years. This year, a video appeal on YouTube spoke to the need for scholarship contributions and to how enriching the Osher experience is for members. Members Judy Miller and Bonnie Snyder enthusiastically shared their personal stories on how gifts to Giving Day benefit others – and have enhanced their own lives. As Bonnie states, “After taking care of my father with Alzheimer’s for years, Osher brought me back to doing things that stimulate my mind and things that interest me. It helped me to get out of the house and develop new skills.”

OLLI at University of Massachusetts Boston found an advocate voice in board member and UMass alumna Mary O’Connor for an event, the “Beacon Discussion Series: Engaged Aging,” presented by the office of Alumni Engagement and the Gerontology Institute at UMass. The panel of aging experts focused on the benefits of staying socially connected and provided tips on how to do so. Mary offered observations on participation in OLLI with the group of gerontologists, adding relevant and personal experiences to the discussion on research-centered practices. Mary promoted OLLI but also served an important role as the only retired person on this panel.

An ongoing outreach effort within the community of York, Pennsylvania for OLLI at The Pennsylvania State University’s York campus takes their message on the road. The Speakers’ Bureau is an ongoing committee of four articulate members who prepare presentations, seek out opportunities, and coordinate appearances. The group travels in pairs to talk to community groups such as Rotary Clubs, social groups, and local organizations that reach potential new members or orient groups to partner with the OLLI program. Jen Geubtner-May, Osher director of the York campus program notes, “As a new director in 2018, I assumed that I would make presentations in the community to promote OLLI. It was our members (now Speakers’ Bureau members) who thought that they would be better OLLI spokespersons, not only because of their genuine enthusiasm, but their personal stories of how OLLI has benefited their lives. They were 100% correct, they do a phenomenal job of representing OLLI in our community!”

While Osher Institute staff are professionally well suited to bring the OLLI message out in a variety of ways, they are sometimes less effective in relating to member experiences that older adult peers have with one another. Member volunteers say it best, when coordinated and mobilized – expressing their love of OLLI to others throughout their wider communities.
Enhanced Campus Collaboration Inspired by Network News
Since its inception, OLLI at University of North Florida (UNF) has collaborated with the university’s Honors program. In “Career Connections,” an informal lunchtime gathering, one or two OLLI members shared insights about their professional lives. That program morphed into an annual colloquium for all first-year students. Each fall, eight OLLI members describe their journey to retirement by demonstrating it was not a straight line from college graduation. Both programs led to informal mentoring relationships. 

The July 2022 issue of the Osher Network Newsletter brought exciting new inspiration for OLLI at UNF’s enhanced service to traditional students. OLLI at Penn State’s contribution, “Lighter as We Go,” highlighted resiliency and life lessons as well as shared experiences that come to the fore when OLLIs invest in an intergenerational context. UNF Honors Director, Dr. Leslie Kaplan, replied “I love this!” A new collaboration was created with the help of OLLI leader Dr. Rita Brodnax, an expert in the application of brain research to teaching, learning and communication.

In Spring 2023, 14 Honors students completed an eight-session seminar, “The Surprising New Brain Research on Happiness, Success and Resiliency.” The highly interactive class addressed tools and strategies for achieving mental and emotional equilibrium in changing times, using bewilderment as an opportunity for growth and navigating turbulent times. Goals included student development of vision and growth life models versus one of deficiency, harnessing the power of “YET” and embracing a growth versus fixed mindset. The class was an overwhelming success by all reports. OLLI presented each student with a certificate, a symbolic token (compass on a carabiner to hold the keys to different aspects of their future lives), and a digital badge. Rita anticipates repeating the Honors seminar and has offered to deliver a resiliency program to all interested UNF students.

Submitted by: Jeanette M. Toohey, Director OLLI at University of North Florida
2023 Osher Institutes National Conference
Keynote Speaker
Eunice Lin Nichols
The Power of Cogeneration
As life lengthened for many over the past 100 years, the traditional mixing of generations in families and communities eroded. The strength of relationships between the old and young has waned, yet research shows powerful benefits from connection, role modeling, knowledge transfer, and the honoring of history that daily interaction between the generations can achieve. How can academic organizations and lifelong learners change our trajectory from generations apart to generations together, in the process, improving lives and strengthening communities? With ideas and observations from her decades of experience at CoGenerate (formerly Encore.org), Eunice Lin Nichols will inspire participants to use their strategic positions on college and university campuses to bring older and younger changemakers together for the greater good. 
CoGenerate is a leading nonprofit bringing older and younger generations together to solve problems, bridge divides, and co-create the future. Eunice is a Next Avenue Influencer in Aging and a recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award.

Eunice Lin Nichols
Co-CEO, CoGenerate
May 2023 Osher NRC Webinar
Osher Network Benchmarking
Mark your calendar for the next Osher NRC webinar on May 31st beginning at 2pm Eastern/1pm Central/noon Mountain/11am Pacific/10am in Alaska and 9am in Hawaii. This webinar is open to all staff, volunteer leaders and members within the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Network. Register for the webinar.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Member Benchmarking Data

Amanda Rhodes
Associate Director, Osher NRC
Curriculum Corner
Osher Institute at University of Richmond
Ukrainian History, Art & Folktale Traditions Within The Baba Yaga Mask

Course Length: One session
Course Instructor: Kris Spisak
A former college writing instructor, including at UR, Kris Spisak is a speaker, ghostwriter, freelance editor, and author of “Get a Grip On Your Grammar”, with a goal to help writers sharpen their craft and empower their communications.
Course Delivery: In-person
Course description: OLLI members attended a book talk with author Kris Spisak as she discussed her novel, 'The Baba Yaga Mask,' her Ukrainian heritage, and the Ukrainian history, folk art, and folklore behind the story. The Baba Yaga Mask was inspired by her family's experience in the post-WWII Ukrainian diaspora and has been called 'A complex, poetic tale' by Kirkus Reviews.
Of note: A description of the book, “The Baba Yaga Mask”: “When their Ukrainian grandmother is lost on a trans-Atlantic flight, two sisters are swept into a quest across eastern Europe to find the woman who had always told more tales than truths. From Poland to Slovakia to Hungary and beyond, Larissa and Ira navigate the steps of Ukrainian folk dance, the cliff-side paths of Slovak Paradise National Park, and the stark realities of war, emigration, folktales, and feminism, all for the sake of chasing who they’re starting to believe is a true Baba Yaga. Understanding their family’s roots has never been more clear.” From the author’s website: www.kris-spisak.com
Quick Tip - Implementing Hybrid Programs
engAGED: The National Resource Center for Engaging Older Adults is a partnership (in which the NRC is a member) whose goal is to increase the social engagement of older adults. Recently, engAGED developed a new resource with OATS (Older Adults Technology Services from AARP) on hybrid learning. This manual, Implementing Hybrid Programs, Considerations and Best Practices for Aging Network Organizations provides useful guidance, tips, and recommendations to support organizations implementing hybrid programming. This manual is free and open to the public. Download the manual
Job Board
Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UD

Program and Operations Coordinator, OLLI & Benerd College

Operations and Membership Coordinator - Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Lifelong Learning Coordinator - Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Is there a staff opening at your Osher Institute? Please send it to us at oshernrc@northwestern.edu