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Watching the 50th Anniversary of the MLK March on Washington, DC it’s hard not to feel the compelling power of a “movement.”  Witness the power of convening all those people of all ages and demographics in a common mission – to be there as a part of history.

Upon seeing the 1963 footage sprinkled throughout and hearing those who were present that day and the historians comment, I was struck by how important it is to teach and to remind people how things were – in many ways, thankfully, drastically different. No time for complacency, we need to reiterate how much still has to be done and broadened for a changed population.

Back then it was blacks (Negroes) and whites. Now the diversity and the “march” for inclusion and equity encompasses race/ethnicity, gender, LGBT, disability and generational diversity, and perhaps more.  Generational diversity was not mentioned in the speeches, but it was apparent viewing the crowds of marchers eager to participate and as people sought to pass on the knowledge to younger generations.

Dramatic events are necessary to bring focus to challenges that are not recognized sufficiently for their economic, social, political and cultural impact. With our cross-generational conversation we can further understanding and collaborative action on the issues that matter in our lives and at work.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com




The Serve America Act is a bipartisan bill now before the U.S. Senate. Its purpose is to expand national service opportunities for people of all ages. Part of the legislation, the Encore Fellowships would be one-year positions for people at or near the end of their midlife careers who want to go on to another career in the non-profit or public sectors after age 50. These fellowships focus on solving national problems in areas such as health care, education and the environment.

Information on both the Encore Fellowships and the Serve America Act can be found at http://www.encore.org/news/serve-america-your-encor-0.

"Follow the money to an Encore Career" on Encore.org explains how the $787 billion federal stimulus package is creating opportunities in education, health care and the environment and tells where the money is going.


The composition of the 2009 U.S. Senate is younger than last year's, but it is still dominated by Boomers. There are more Senators in their 40s than before, and many in their 50s. And some of the Traditionalists, even on the older end, still remain.

Some changes are being noticed almost immediately. Some younger members are eager to be heard quickly, rather than wait quietly for the traditional amount of time. Senate leadership is trying to accommodate them and is shortening the time frame to qualify for subcommittee chairmanships to a minimum of two years. Some new members of the Senate have already made their maiden speeches, which previously would have been considered highly presumptuous.

Veteran Susan Collins from Maine, 56, who has played a lead role in getting the economic stimulusus legislation passed, isn't sure what to make of the changeover. She was quoted in the New York Times as saying,"It could mean less experience and perhaps less wisdom, or it could mean increased energy and more people in touch with the day-to-day concerns of families. " Others expect more challenges to the status quo.

Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, 53, said the Senate is one of the few places where he is one of the youngest people around. He observes that "The protocols and atmosphere are changing. There is a little more Irreverence permitted. And  I think all of that is good for debate, discussion, cooperation and working through the hard decisions we have to make here" (as reported by Carl Hulse in the New York Times -February 1, 2009). This should be regarded as constructive in business too.

So some leadership is definitely passing to the younger Boomers, but clearly, the Boomers are there to stay for a while. And if we look to the animal world, there's a lot of life and stardom left in the older generations. For the first time, a 10 year old dog, Stump, came out of retirement to win Best in Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Show at Madison Square Garden.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


blog post on Encore.org  proposes a win-win-win for the country and new administration using the "experience dividend" represented by 78 million Baby Boomers. The opinion piece proposes an "Encore Careers for Recovery and Renewal" plan that it says would save money, help the economy recover and tackle some of the most pressing U.S. problems.

The author, Civic Ventures Vice President David Bank, recommends putting Boomers to work for the greater good as a way to address their entitlement liabilities such as Social Security. His ideas include:

*  Simple regulatory reforms to remove outmoded obstacles and create low-cost, high impact incentives for "encore careers."

*   Modest investments in practical, effective projects that would deliver measurable results, e.g., reduction in high school drop-out rate, increases in global vaccination rates for childhood diseases.

*   Presidential leadership to "make the new stage of work so meaningful and rewarding that it becomes the new definition of success in the second half of life."

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