Change is never easy. But I find it rewarding. I’ve just completed my first 100 days as Next50’s newest President and CEO and am now reflecting on this significant personal and professional change. I found Denver to have a welcoming culture and surprisingly sunny (albeit now cold) weather. But moving from sea-level to a mile high is no joke. You learn to drink more water, cook differently, and exercise patiently. It’s been a rewarding adventure.
The professional transition from leading the American Society on Aging and returning to philanthropy at Next50 couldn’t be more thrilling. Not only have my fellow Trustees welcomed me with open arms, the Next50 staff have also embraced my vision and leadership with enthusiasm.
In addition, I’m particularly appreciative of the reception from Next50’s diverse community of grantees and partners. During my many “lunch and learns”, I heard how a lack of aging funders impacts their work, how Next50 is a critical resource in Colorado and nationally, and how many opportunities exist to continue making an impact together.
These community conversations, accompanied with the overwhelming data from our own grant-related learning and public research, reinforce what we can no longer avoid: it is expensive to age in this country. Our systems do not prioritize our economic well-being as we age. I’m grateful that my fellow Next50 Trustees and staff agree. That is why I am excited to share Next50’s new strategic plan.
By 2027, we will power economic opportunity in aging with grantmaking and social investments. We will fund innovative and equitable ideas in Colorado and across the country that build resilience and change systems by focusing on three priority areas: ending ageism, advancing digital equity, and supporting aging in place.
Ending ageism as a priority is a no-brainer. This bias underpins so many personal, economic, medical, and societal barriers to aging well. We need to end age-related stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination directed toward others and ourselves. Only then will we create a world where people are valued and respected regardless of their age.
Further, technology is a basic need. That is why advancing digital equity is another important priority. Technology must be accessible and affordable for all older adults and the organizations that serve them. If we invest in ensuring we all have equal access to innovative technology now, we will create a future where technology improves how we age.
Finally, supporting aging in place, whether that means living at home or in your community, is a priority. We all should have the resources, economic freedom and peace of mind to live where we feel most comfortable. That is why we must support the systems and services that will allow everyone to maintain their autonomy, dignity, and connections to their communities for as long as possible.
Simply put, this new strategic plan will allow Next50 to change aging. We will be looking to catalyze equitable, innovative, and collaborative services, research, and policies. If my first 100 days are any indication, I know we’ll be working together to create a world that values aging.
by Peter Kaldes, Esq | President and CEO