The 2016 Aging in America Conference: Bringing the Diverse Elders Coalition Together

Washington, DC, is a beautiful city this time of year. While we haven’t quite hit the peak time for the annual cherry blossoms to be in bloom, the weather is just beginning to turn to spring and the greenery is just beginning to come out from its winter hibernation. As a longtime resident of the District, I always appreciate springtime and look especially forward to the many conferences and local events that bring friends and colleagues into town to take advantage of both the beauty the city has to offer, and the unique role we play as the nation’s capital.

I’m waiting with particularly eager anticipation for next week’s 2016 Aging in America Conference, which will be held March 20-24 at the Marriott Wardman and Omni Shoreham Hotels. This conference is one of the largest of its kind and brings thousands of leaders, advocates, policymakers, researchers, and elders together to talk about the latest advances in serving the nation’s aging population. The Diverse Elders Coalition and its member organizations have an ambitious slate of programming on tap, including robust programming, a face-to-face meeting with the principals of our organizations, and social opportunities to connect with our member groups. You can check it all out here.

Photo from last year's LAIN event at the 2015 Aging in America Conference.

Photo from last year’s LAIN event at the 2015 Aging in America Conference.

As five leading national organizations serving elders of color, American Indian/Alaska Native elders, and LGBT elders, our member groups have unique constituencies that are often not served by the attendees of the conference. The Symposium we are putting on as a coalition, “Getting in the Game: Diverse Elders and Civic Engagement,” will be an opportunity to put the spotlight on those elders who are all too often not part of the conversations that usually happen here. Our member groups will share stories and resources from their decades of experience directly engaging and serving their communities and what that means for the current political climate. The Symposium will be held on Tuesday, March 22 at 9:00 am in the Marriott Wardman Park Washington 4 room.

The unique needs, challenges, and strengths of the constituencies our member groups serve will be centered on the discussion we will have around cultural competence. Staff of our member groups will come together for a session that I will moderate on “Providing Culturally Competent Services for Diverse Elders,” which will be held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel Congressional B Room on Monday, March 21 at 1:30 pm. My first job coming to Washington, DC focused on supporting culturally competent health care practices, so this conversation will be a personally meaningful way to bring my career thus far full circle and see how the field has evolved in the more than 16 years since I last worked in it.

The Diverse Elders Coalition gives me the opportunity to work with five teams of people doing important work for elders who are too frequently ignored by too many systems that are supposed to serve them. Although the five teams work in different spaces on a range of issues, events like the 2016 Aging in America Conference is an important venue to come together as colleagues, compare notes, and recommit ourselves to the ongoing work to refocus the attention of policymakers and the aging advocacy movement to the constituencies we serve.

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.