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VOL. 129 | NO. 136 | Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pearl and Mel Shaw

Welcoming Home Baby Boomers

By Mel and Pearl Shaw

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Part two of a two-part series. Talented leadership is always in high demand. The question is: Where do you look for leaders, who are you overlooking and how do you effectively sustain their involvement?

When recruiting talent for your organization, business, government department or agency, make sure you consider individuals over age 55. Here’s what we know – these “so-called seniors” represent a growing percentage of the population, and many have experience, education and connections that can transform communities and organizations. They can provide valuable leadership in the civic and nonprofit sectors, when called upon. You, or your close friends may be one of these people!

In many communities – Memphis included – there is an organized effort to attract and retain young leaders. Care is taken when recruiting these talented individuals, and similar attention should be paid to the recruitment and engagement of older talent.

For example, when looking at community development, economic growth, transforming education or increasing cultural opportunities, “seniors” can be major contributors. Many have skills, experience and relationships that have been developed over years and decades.

Those who had careers as corporate executives and managers have worked in communities across the country and can bring that national exposure and learning to your local community. They can play key roles on local and state civic boards and commissions. Their strategic thinking and board service in other communities can add value to local nonprofit boards.

Creating a structure that focuses on engaging the talent of seniors can yield financial and civic rewards. Such a structure can also serve as a formal way to “welcome home” those seniors who are returning to the community after careers in other parts of the country, or internationally.

Here’s our question: What mechanisms are in place to engage people returning home to Memphis, to introduce them to current stakeholders, and to facilitate their community engagement? Most seniors we know don’t look to local senior centers for engagement – they don’t even consider themselves seniors!

Our suggestion: We need a program that targets older, talented professionals and veterans and introduces them to the community. We should look at who is here in Shelby County, who is returning to the county, and what skills and experiences are needed to leverage current civic priorities.

Memphis is focused on transformation, and “seniors” can provide leadership when welcomed and engaged. Serious thought, planning and investment should be made in engaging this powerful demographic.

Talent doesn’t have an expiration date. Today’s seniors include talented leaders who can add value and help define solutions to pressing civic issues. The question is do we want to engage older talent or have people sit on the sidelines? If we want to engage seniors, then the engagement process should be well-planned and managed. Don’t let stereotypes render top local talent invisible.

Mel and Pearl Shaw position nonprofits, colleges and universities for fundraising success. For help with your campaign visit saadandshaw.com or call 522-8727.

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