Gray is the New Green: Unleashing the Power of Older Workers and Volunteers to Build a Stronger Northern New England
It’s no secret that Northern New England has the oldest population in America. It is also no secret that with incredibly low unemployment and many unfilled positions (29,000 job openings in New Hampshire alone right now) we have a workforce crisis on our hands.
That’s why more than 170 employers, policy makers, advocates and other leaders from across ME, NH and VT came together on May 8th with the Tri-State Learning Collaborative on Aging (TSLCA) for Gray is the New Green, to share strategies for retaining, recruiting and re-engaging older workers and volunteers.
As people live healthier, longer lives they are delaying retirement past the traditional age of 65 and continuing to contribute to the workforce. Keynote speaker, Liz Vogel noted that older workers are often more creative; have accumulated a network of colleagues; don’t worry what other people think and due to experience, they “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Not unlike younger workers, mature workers seek flexibility in the workplace, often wanting to scale back work hours and take on roles that create less stress both physically and mentally.
Throughout the day, presenters offered good ideas from employers who were advancing successful strategies to strengthen their workforce by engaging older workers. Wendy Estabrook of L.L. Bean noted that the average age of their workforce is 49 years and their workforce ages a year every year. Mature workers are a large part of their seasonal workforce for which they hire 4,500 people. They recognize and value older workers for their role in mentoring and training new hires. Maureen Whittemore of Granite State Independent Living (GSIL) shared how their organization has created shared positions for direct care workers that provide care to people with disabilities and older adults. As an older worker finds the physical care of someone with complex care needs too challenging, GSIL splits the role, assigning the lighter duties to them and pairs them with a younger worker, who can handle the more strenuous tasks.
Valuing the older workforce starts with a mindset shift. Todd Fahey, State Director of AARP-NH, shared a video that challenges the idea of what “old” looks like: Millennials Show Us What ‘Old’ Looks Like. Across the region and nationally, AARP is engaging employers through an Employer Pledge Program to value and hire workers over 50. This project is focused on companies with immediate hiring needs. In NH, BAE Systems and Northeast Delta Dental have both signed this pledge. Todd noted that retaining workers is another key AARP strategy. Recent AARP research found there is a 1.7 ROI for employers who support employee caregivers. AARP is working with corporations through Respect a Caregivers Time (ReACT), an effort to equip employers to better support employees in their role as caregivers, many who are older adults themselves. ReACT offers tools and successful strategies for employers of all types, all available online.
Valuing older workers also requires a commitment from State leadership. Both Vermont and Maine are publicly honoring employers that demonstrate a commitment to supporting the inclusion and retention of mature workers through awards programs. In Vermont, the Governor’s Award for Business Excellence is awarded annually through a partnership of the Department of Labor and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Maine’s Department of Labor has an older worker’s committee in the State Workforce Board that offers the Silver Collar Award to Maine employers who value contributions of older workers.
One of the things that employers worry about when employing folks past their retirement is understanding the impact on a person’s social security and other benefits. The need for policy change to incentivize working without penalty was a key point of discussion. Policy Analyst John Dorrer of Maine said, “we have a 20th Century infrastructure for a 21st Century economy.”
The day ended with remarks from Jess Maurer, the Project Manager of the TSLCA. Jess noted that this conference was just the beginning of regional dialogue on the mature workforce and that TSLCA commits to a webinar series to delve into specific topics raised at the event.
The Tri-State Learning Collaborative on Aging is a free learning community for anyone who lives or works in New Hampshire, Maine or Vermont. You can sign up for a free membership online (https://agefriendly.community/sign-up/). Just click on signup!
|8:00 – 9:00||Registration and Light Breakfast|
|9:00 – 9:15||Opening Remarks
Jess Maurer, Executive Director, Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging
|9:15 – 10:15||Keynote:
Experience Never Gets Old …. Take Advantage of It!
Liz Vogel, President & CEO, Dots, Inc., Shelburne, VT
It’s time to rethink our world of work. With four generations in the workplace, a looming labor shortage, and increased disengagement of the mature worker, we need to engage in effective conversations and develop creative solutions. Solutions that leverage the wisdom and experience we have available with the mature workforce and allow us to collaborate across the generations and develop innovative ways to bridge the labor and knowledge gaps to keep our businesses strong and competitive in the future.
|10:15 – 10:30||Break|
|10:30 – 11:45||Panel Presentation: Practice in Action – Making it Work
Moderator: John Dorrer, Labor Economist and Workforce Analyst
Paul Biebel, Biebel Builders, Windsor, VT
Wendy Estabrook, Director, Human Resources, L.L.Bean, Inc., Freeport, ME
Laurie Harding, RN, Upper Valley Community Nursing Project, Lebanon, NH
Maureen Whittemore, Attendant Care Worker Relations Coordinator, Granite State Independent
Living, New Hampshire.
The looming workforce shortage in Northern New England creates an imperative for employers in the region to be intentional about recruiting, training and retaining older workers, supporting family caregivers in the workplace and creating a culture that fuels an effective multi-generational workforce. This panel will highlight employers from across the region who are rethinking “business as usual” when it comes to workforce and are using new strategies to minimize the impact of worker shortages on the bottom line. The panel will also explore approaches that help transition retiring employees from worker to entrepreneur, volunteer or community leader.
|11:45 – 12:45||Lunch|
|12:15 – 12:45||Lunch Plenary
Helping Atlas: What AARP is Doing Regionally and Nationwide to Support and Engage Older Adult Workers and Volunteers
Todd Fahey, NH State Director, AARP
To disrupt aging, AARP is working on multiple fronts locally, regionally and nationally to change the discussion about aging, to challenge assumptions about what it means to age, and to present a different view of what aging actually looks like in 21st century America. This session will explore what initiatives AARP is leading, and some resources it offers, to help more than 100 million older Americans who give so much to their employers, their families and communities.
|12:45 – 1:00||Break|
|1:00 – 2:30||Breakout Sessions
The Summit workshops will be a mix of presentation and conversation. These workshops will highlight challenges, bright ideas and end with a facilitated conversation about how we can move issues forward in our states and region.
|1. Growing Our Health Care Workforce to Meet the Needs of an Older Population
Health is a critical component to aging in place. This session will explore the region’s response to the growing shortage of health care professionals, particularly nurses, and will highlight strategies health care organizations and communities are deploying to increase workers, share resources and diversify roles to help keep older adults healthy and living safely at home. Participants will lend their voices to answer the question how do we grow this sector and, at the same time, use the resources we have differently to fill gaps in services?
|2. Strategies and Tools for Employers: Engaging & Retaining an Older Workforce
Our region’s looming labor crisis can be partially solved by increasing labor force participation by those 65+, our only worker demographic that is growing. Some of the crisis can be forestalled by keeping older workers and informal family caregivers in the workforce longer and by attracting older adults back into the labor force. However, most employers don’t have a strategy for engaging older workers. This session will explore tools and strategies that employers are using to create work environments and structures that value and support older workers. Participants will help answer the question, how we can grow the number of employers who are using these tools and actively engaging older workers?
|3. What’s next: Volunteers as New Economic & Community Development Leaders
While a strong workforce is key to a strong economy, volunteers also play a critical role. Across Northern New England, tens of thousands of older adults move from career to volunteer. They are leading more than a hundred livable community efforts. They are the backbone of community supports that help older adults age in place. They are using their experience and knowledge to mentor the next generation of professionals and small business owners. As workers remain in the workforce longer, our volunteer labor pool will shrink, making it more important than ever that people become engaged volunteers after retirement. This session will explore the mechanisms that support people moving from career to volunteer and highlight existing volunteer leadership development opportunities for older adults. Participants will share their ideas on how to expand and diversify these efforts across the region to meet existing needs.
|4. Creating Opportunities for Encore Careers
While we can agree that we need to increase participation in the labor force participation by those 65 and older, some folks who have left the workforce are apprehensive about jumping back in. Many who are still in the workforce want a change of scenery, but have no roadmap to follow to help them move into their next career. This session will explore successful strategies for moving older adults into encore careers and building the skills they’ll need to thrive in their next job. Participants will discuss the kinds of transition and support systems we need to build to help older folks return to work and/or move into “third act” careers.
| 5. Policy Initiatives that Support Older Workers
This session will explore what statewide policies, established infrastructures and partnerships are working to support older adults returning to work and working longer. The session will focus on collaborative efforts within and between state agencies, business associations and development organizations to address these issues. The session will also highlight legislative efforts, collaborative reports and communication strategies, including awards programs aimed at highlighting exemplary employers who are actively engaging older workers. Participants will share ideas on what communication strategies will help to move both potential workers and employers to take action.
|2:30 – 3:00||Concluding Thoughts on the Day|
Keynote: Experience Never Gets Old .... Take Advantage of It!
Liz Vogel, MEd.
President and CEO, Dots, Inc.
Liz Vogel brings extensive experience to the field with an MEd in Counseling & Psych; Adult Development & Learning, a BA in Organizational Development and Communication, ICF certified in Retirement Coaching, certified in Career Placement and over 25 years of experience in business consulting with Fortune 100 companies and start-ups. She is President and CEO of Dots, Inc., a company created to connect the dots between people and the information they need. Dots, Inc. focuses on guiding businesses and individuals transitioning from their full-time career into the next chapter of work or preparing for retirement.
Panel Presentation: Practice in Action - Making it Work
President, Biebel Builders, Windsor, Vermont
Since starting Biebel Builders in Vermont in 1976, Paul Biebel has built around 400 homes. He has expanded his business into what is now a design/build firm ( Prudent Living Inc.) which specializes in constructing high performance homes that utilize solar panels to create net-zero housing. Even after 40 years in the business, Paul is always trying new things. One of the new things he is doing is writing a blog for Prudent Living. In the blog, Paul shares information about the challenges and techniques of building affordable, high-performance, net-zero homes.
Paul is also an active member of the Vermont State Workforce Development Board (SWDB) and plays an active part in drafting legislation that focuses on synchronizing Government, Education and Corporate interests in such a way as to benefit our economy and preserve our New England heritage. High on the list is how to create opportunities for a rapidly aging workforce that will be less physically taxing while at the same time will allow them to pass the baton of experience and practical wisdom in their crafts to those who are just starting out. He has also participated on a panel for Workforce Housing Development and Vermont’s Thermal Efficiency Task Force.
From 1989 thru 2001, Paul traveled extensively around the world with Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity and was his house leader on various international projects where thousands of homes were built (using volunteers) from start to finish in four days
Labor Economist and Workforce Analyst
John Dorrer has worked at the local, state and national level in a variety of leadership, executive and technical roles. Among many other leadership roles, he was Senior Advisor at Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce; Director of Labor Market Research at Jobs for the Future in Boston; and Acting Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. Dorrer is currently and Adjunct Professor teaching courses in labor economics and public administration at the University of Maine, Orono. He is the author of numerous studies and reports and a contributor of chapters to books on education planning and workforce development and has been appointed to multiple national and state panels, boards and study groups including Public Policy Advisory Committee, Boston Federal Reserve Bank, Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission and Maine Economic Growth Council, Trustee, Mid-Coast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) 2011-2015 and currently, serves as Board Member, Maine Center for Economic Policy, Coastal Enterprises Inc.(CEI), Research Committee, Maine Economic Focus Initiative and Alfond Leaders Advisory Committee.
Director of Human Resources, L.L. Bean, Freeport, Maine
Wendy Estabrook oversees a number of HR functions to support the company and employees. Outside of her employment, Wendy is the president of a local youth music association and is a member of the board of directors of Lift360, the organization formed recently by the merger of Common Good Ventures and the Institute for Civic Leadership. Wendy is also the co-convener of the Maine Workforce and Employment Workgroup, sponsored by the Maine Council on Aging and the state of Maine’s Aging Initiative.
Co-Director, Upper Valley Community Nursing Project, Dartmouth, NH
Laurie Harding has extensive direct care/care management experience and administrative home care experience, which she obtained through her work with an area Visiting Nurse and Hospice organization. She has served in the New Hampshire legislature for five terms, most recently as the vice chair of the Health and Human Services committee, where her policy interests included the challenges associated with aging in community. Laurie is a member of the Granite United Way Women’s Leadership Council, is on the board of directors of Headrest, and is a member of the Advisory Council of the New Hampshire Endowment for Health.
Attendant Care Worker Relations Coordinator, Granite State Independent Living (GSIL), New Hampshire.
Maureen Whittemore joined Granite State Independent Living in 2013, bringing 20 years’ experience in recruitment and employee management, with for-profit and non-profit businesses. In her position as Relations Coordinator, Maureen recruits, trains and advocates for GSIL attendant care workers statewide, with a clear understanding of the challenges of today’s workforce. Prior to GSIL, Maureen lived in Mexico, was a board of directors member with Queretaro Newcomer’s Club presiding over the Charity Committee, with a focus to helping abandoned girls. Maureen has written numerous employee management and training articles and has been published in The Sun Magazine, FIVE Poetry magazine, and the Independent Insider.
Todd Fahey, J.D.
State Director, AARP New Hampshire
Todd was appointed State Director of AARP New Hampshire in 2014. He is responsible for the overall leadership of the organization in New Hampshire and for achieving strategic and tangible outcomes for 233,000 Granite State members in the areas of health, financial security and personal fulfillment. Prior to joining AARP, Fahey practiced law for more than two decades, specializing in helping nonprofit organizations to define, fulfill and perpetuate their missions. During his time as a practicing lawyer, he organized and served as legal counsel to some of the state’s most influential and respected nonprofit and business organizations and ran other business ventures by choice and several nonprofit organization by special court appointment. Mr. Fahey currently serves on several nonprofit boards and is a trustee of two private foundations.
Breakout Session Presenters
Manager of Public Policy for the Massachusetts/ New Hampshire Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association
Healther a licensed social worker, dementia practitioner and has been working in the field with elders for over 15 years. She is the . She manages the Federal and State Government affairs for Dementia related legislation for New Hampshire. Heather is the Chairwoman of the New Hampshire HHS& EA oversite sub-committee for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. She is also on the Steering Committee for the NH Alliance for Healthy Aging and sits on the Board of the NH Prevention of Chronic Diseases. Heather has worked in assisted living, and long term care as well as Geriatric psych care settings. Heather resides with her family in New Boston NH.
Assistant Director, University of Maine Center on Aging
Jennifer has over a decade of experience in professional and community education, program evaluation and program planning. Nearly all research projects and grant-funded programs under her management entail the translation of academic research into professional and public education programs, events and dissemination activities. She has been involved in implementing and evaluating a wide range of research, training, and community service initiatives including serving as the Program Manager for Encore Leadership Corps, an innovative volunteer leadership program for Mainers 50+ and serving as Project Manager for the National Institutes of Health-funded Balancing Act Clinical Trial, a research study testing a falls prevention program among older adults with visual impairments. In addition to her professional work, she is a member of a number of organizations and professional groups including the Maine Gerontological Society (currently serving as a board member), the Scholars Strategy Network, and the Gerontological Society of America where she has served as the co-chair of the Rural Aging Interest Group. Jennifer received her MSW from the University of Maine and is currently pursuing an Interdisciplinary PhD at UMaine.
Community Nurse, Thetford, VT
Cindy Grigel is the newly established Community Nurse of Thetford working free of charge with Thetford Residents that need resources, medication education, counseling and advocacy in navigating the health care system. Grigel comes to the 10 hour per week position after 30 years working as a nurse in critical care and other departments at Dartmouth Hitchcock, and still maintains a position with Health South Rehabilitation Hospital evaluating patients at Dartmouth Hitchcock and New London Hospitals after serious illness or injury and before they are released for rehabilitation.
Executive Director for the Center on Aging at the University of Vermont
During the past ten years Jeanne Hutchins has played an active role in aging services, program development and community education in Vermont. Jeanne serves on the board of the Champlain Senior Center and VNA of Chittenden and Southern Grand Isle Counties, among others.
Associate State Director for Outreach, AARP New Hampshire
Sarah Kelsea joined AARP New Hampshire in 2011 with a wealth of community collaboration and outreach experience in nonprofit and government settings. As Associate State Director for Outreach, she delivers programs and activities that empower Granite Staters with information and resources as they navigate the 50-plus years. She also develops and implements strategies to effectively involve volunteers in all aspects of AARP’s work.
Prior to joining AARP, she worked for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, designing and leading an initiative to engage community organizations in enrolling uninsured families in state run insurance programs. She also served as Director of Community Relations and Development at New Hampshire Healthy Kids, implementing community initiatives geared towards enrolling children in the Healthy Kids (Medicaid and SCHIP) programs.
A native of New Hampshire, Sarah earned a Bachelor in Sociology and Master in Public Health from the University of New Hampshire. In addition to her work, Sarah is a graduate of the 2015 Leadership New Hampshire program. In her free time you will find her at a Wildcat hockey game, planning adventures with her son or testing a new recipe in the kitchen.
Executive Director, Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging (M4A)
On behalf of Maine’s five Area Agencies on Aging, she advocates for healthy aging at the national, state and local levels. She also assists the area agencies in strategic planning, program development and implementation. She provides leadership within Maine’s aging network, including on the Maine Council on Aging and Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention, to advance public policy initiatives that support Maine’s aging population. She is one of the lead authors of the 2012-2016 Maine State Plan on Aging and of Building a Collaborative Community Response to Aging in Place. A licensed Maine attorney, Jessica worked for nearly 17 years in the Maine Office of the Attorney General. In her last 7 years in the Office, she served as Special Assistant Attorney General, implementing public policy and legislative initiatives for the Attorney General. Policy areas included elder abuse, prescription drug pricing and end of life care.
Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, Director,
Director, University of New England Maine Geriatric Education Center
Judith A. Metcalf has her Bachelor’s in Nursing from Salem State College Salem, Massachusetts, her Master’s from Boston University and her Post-Master’s Adult Nurse Practitioner Certification in Primary Health Care Nursing from Simmons College in Boston.
She currently is Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, Coordinator of the Upstream Practicum in Nursing Program, and Director of the Maine Geriatric Education Center at the University of New England. Previously she had been involved in the UNE MatureCare Practice as a nurse practitioner.
Ms. Metcalf is a Fellow of the Maine Gerontological Society. She has served on several national and statewide committees and boards. She is a member of the National Association of Geriatric Education (NAGE) and is the Immediate Past President of the Dirigo Maine Geriatrics Society.
Age Friendly Community Consultant, TSLCA
Patricia works as an age-friendly community consultant with AARP and the Tri-State Learning Collaborative on Aging. She is also Coordinator of Older Adult Services in Bowdoinham, Maine, where she works with Bowdoinham’s Advisory Committee on Aging to provide services and advocacy that enable older residents to live in their homes for as long as possible and to remain active and engaged in the community.
Lori Parham, Ph.D
State Director, AARP Maine
Lori K. Parham, Ph.D., is AARP Maine’s State Director, based in Portland, Maine. Prior to joining AARP Maine she worked as senior advisor to AARP’s Executive Vice President for the State and National Group in Washington, DC, overseeing the reorganization of the Association’s Government Affairs unit and the creation of a new Office of Volunteerism & Service. She began her career at AARP in Florida. Before becoming State Director in early 2007, she served as Advocacy Manager for State Affairs and was responsible for policy and legislative advocacy on topics including health and long-term care, transportation, and utilities.
Before joining AARP, Parham served as a legislative analyst for the Florida Senate, providing technical expertise to the Committee on Health, Aging and Long-Term Care. She has a B.A. in Sociology from Belmont Abbey College, as well as a M.S. and Ph.D. with a specialization in Political Economy and Aging from the Florida State University.
SCORE New Hampshire District Director
Kerry, a former top executive in the instrument and control industry, oversaw the sale of one of his former companies to General Electric, relocated to New Hampshire in 1999. He joined SCORE in 2007 and became New Hampshire director in 2013. SCORE is the single largest mentoring organization in New Hampshire with six chapters and more than 200 volunteers. A 2016 survey showed 527 new businesses were started and 426 new jobs were created after consultations with SCORE volunteers. One of the key facts in the survey was that small businesses that received three hours or more of mentoring reported greater revenues and business growth.
Managing Director, Demers, Blaisdell & Prasol Inc.
Thomas Prasol has been providing strategy, lobbying, and association management for clients since 2011. He brings a myriad of experience in State and Federal government beginning his professional career as a Project Assistant to U.S. Senator Judd Gregg and as Policy and Field Coordinator for several State and Federal campaigns. In 2008 he transitioned to the position of Project Director for Senator Gregg where he handled federal appropriations in the areas of first responders. Upon Senator Gregg’s retirement, he moved to the New Hampshire State Senate where he was a Legislative Aide to the Senate Education Committee. With his experience in federal and state government, Mr. Prasol brings another dimension to the firm in areas of strategy, management of special projects, and government affairs implementation. He continues to bring his experience and knowledge to assist State and Federal campaigns with strategy and policy research. In addition to his work for Demers, Blaisdell & Prasol, he serves on the Town Planning Board and has previously served as Chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board in his local community He received his Bachelor’s degree in Politics from Saint Anselm College where he served as an Ambassador to the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, and his Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He currently resides in Hooksett, NH with his fiancé Maria and two dogs Zeus and Tyson.
Greg Voorheis, M.Ed.
Mature Worker Program Coordinator in the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living’s Vocational Rehabilitation Division
Greg is a big believer in employment training programs having spent over 30 years in employment and training grants writing and management at the Vermont Department of Labor. Throughout his career he has co-authored successful national discretionary training grants totaling close to $40 million. Currently, Greg oversees the implementation of Vermont’s Senior Community Service Employment Program, coordinates the Governor’s Award for Business Excellence in Supporting Mature Workers and initiates special projects involving the Departments of Economic Development and Labor and higher education.
Before joining the Labor Department Greg worked as the Assistant to the Academic Vice President at the University of Vermont, taught Special Education, and worked in private industry.
For the past 15 years, Greg has worked extensively in the field of health care. During that time he chaired the Board of Trustees at the Central Vermont Medical Center and served as a trustee on the University of Vermont Health Network and the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems Boards. He also served as a member of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Nursing and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging’s Talent Cabinet. Greg also served as a member of the Advisory Team for the Legislative Study of the Direct Care Workforce in Vermont.
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