With the Vibrancy of May, Let Us Celebrate Older Americans Month

   

Episode description:  

Each May, we commemorate Older Americans Month—ever since President John F. Kennedy issued a formal proclamation in 1963 asking the nation to encourage and recognize the countless contributions that older adults make to our communities. This year, the Administration for Community Living, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will lead the observance of Older Americans Month with the theme, “Age My Way,” focusing on how older adults can plan to stay in their homes and be involved in their communities for as long as possible. In today’s episode, Rhonda Schwartz, a regional administrator for the Administration for Community Living will explain the agency’s broad mission: to maximize the independence, health and well-being of older adults and people with disabilities, as well as their families and caregivers. Indeed, all people, regardless of age and disability, deserve to live with dignity, make their own choices, and participate fully in society.

This year is also 10th anniversary of the creation of the ACL, and Rhonda will discuss how the agency has evolved over the years to more fully integrate its work for both the aging and disabilities communities. She’ll talk about the agency’s approach to promoting planning, participation, accessibility, and making connections—all of which play a role in aging in place—emphasizing that what each person needs and prefers is unique. She’ll explain how the pandemic affected the delivery of vital ACL programs and services, how the agency has adapted and continues to deal with the challenges of social isolation, stress and mental health issues among elderly populations. And Rhonda will weigh in on the agency’s (and her own) efforts to reframe how we view aging, to recognize how older people not only contribute to the economy, but offer wisdom, their time, experience and talents to enrich the lives of those around them.

Guest description:

Rhonda Schwartz has served as a Regional Administrator for the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, since 2019 and currently acts as the Regional Administrator for Region II, which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  As Regional Administrator, Rhonda is the representative for the ACL Administrator/Assistant Secretary for Aging at the regional level.  Rhonda joined ACL in July 2016 as an Aging Services Program Specialist in ACL’s Region I office located in Boston, Massachusetts.  In that capacity, she worked with federal, state, and tribal organizations, with particular attention to oversight of the Older Americans Act (OAA) state and tribal grant programs.   Prior to joining ACL, she spent several years managing OAA and other ACL programs at a state unit on aging. Rhonda earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Georgetown University in 1985 and a J.D. from Columbia University in 1988.  Following award of her J.D., she joined a law firm in Manhattan, NY, where she focused on commercial real estate transactions.  Rhonda left her law practice in 2004 to pursue a Master of Social Work degree, which she received from Rhode Island College in 2006.  

Contact: Rhonda.Schwartz@acl.hhs.gov

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