Long appointed chair of Governor's Task Force on Aging

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Lipscomb University is being recognized statewide for its leadership in aging services and transforming the way communities and organizations serve the aging population.

Charla LongCharla Long, dean of the College of Professional Studies and founder of Lipscomb’s School of TransformAging®, has been appointed by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to chair a new Task Force on Aging. Haslam formed the group to create a plan to improve the lives and care of older Tennesseans and their families through a collaboration of public, private and nonprofit leaders.

“The School of TransformAging was created to transform the way society responds to aging issues—from public policy to service-delivery,” said Long. “Serving the state on this task force is a natural extension of our work. We believe this task force can recommend the changes necessary and, with the Governor’s leadership, the implementation of these ideas will make our state a better place for Tennesseans to age and to care for their aging family members and friends.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 14 percent of Tennesseans are 65 years of age or older, and the national average is 13.7 percent. Tennessee’s number is expected to grow to more than 22 percent by 2020.

“I want to thank the task force and all those involved for dedicating their time and effort to improving the lives of others,” Haslam said. “The Task Force on Aging will develop a strategic plan, drawing on the public, private and nonprofit sectors to better meet the needs of older Tennesseans and their families, now and into the future.”

Haslam has asked the task force to focus on three areas: promoting healthy aging, creating livable communities and supporting family caregivers.

“It’s a privilege for Lipscomb’s School of TransformAging to contribute to this valuable work,” said Long. “Not only is Lipscomb being recognized for our proven ability to serve as a neutral convener, but we are helping to frame the dialogue around these three areas which need substantial improvement in our state.  So many individuals, nonprofit organizations, and businesses are diligently working to address these areas of concern and this task force will be able to help advance best practices in the task force recommendations.”

The Task Force on Aging is an outgrowth of discussions that began at the Governor’s Summit on Aging that took place on the Lipscomb campus on June 21, 2011. It was a partnership between Lipscomb University and Haslam that brought together public, private and nonprofit leaders to discuss ways to improve the lives of Tennesseans as they age. Participants were challenged to think creatively in finding ways to better serve seniors.

Other Task Force on Aging committee members include:

  • Mike Carpenter, executive director, Plough Foundation
  • Rev. Richard H. Gentzler Jr., former director of the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries, GBOD-UMC
  • Rebecca B. Kelly, state director, AARP Tennessee
  • Patti Killingsworth, assistant commissioner, chief of long term services and supports, TennCare
  • Ben Leedle, president and CEO, Healthways
  • Michelle J. Long, assistant commissioner of health licensure and regulation, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Anna-Gene O’Neal, president and CEO, Alive Hospice
  • Madeline Rogero, mayor, City of Knoxville
  • Jim Shulman, executive director, Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability
  • Beth Tipps, deputy director of policy and research, governor’s office

The task force will hold its first meeting in September.

The School of TransformAging at Lipscomb University is designed to address the issues facing seniors and the individuals who serve them by finding lasting and meaningful solutions to America’s aging crisis. This crisis requires everyone to think differently about aging services and demands innovative leadership from all sectors, including education.

The School of TransformAging offers innovative multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate degrees, including certificate programs and a master’s program in aging services leadership. The School strives to develop a new workforce to passionately pursue careers with the aging and demonstrate a holistic skill set. It also serves as a neutral convener of conversations of significance regarding aging issues; provides useful and timely information and training for both professional and family caregivers; and serves as the catalyst for applied research and design for professionals in the field.