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The National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes

Breakout Session Descriptions

2018 Osher Institutes National Conference

Breakout Session Descriptions

Tuesday, 10:30 – 11:45am

Civil Discussions on Contemporary Issues

At a time when the American public is divided, is there a better way of talking about critical issues? Civil discourse is essential to OLLI learning communities. Embracing diverse perspectives on subjects ensures vitality, relevance, and further learning. The National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) publishes issue guides and promotes deliberative dialogue. Contrasted to debate, where two opposing viewpoints compete, and distinctly different from public forums featuring experts who educate audiences, deliberation helps small groups of citizens share what they hold valuable, listen to different ideas, and use areas of agreement to make problem-solving choices. Session participants will deliberate the current NIFI national issue, Coming to America. Who Should We Welcome? What Should We Do? Following the forum, two Osher Institute directors and an instructor will share how deliberative forums have been incorporated into their programs. Through introduction to this accessible resource for civil discourse, participants will be inspired to add deliberative dialogue courses to their OLLI programs and promote community engagement.


Gregg Kaufman, Founder, The Deliberative Voice & Instructor, OLLI @ University of North Florida

Julie Mitchell, Executive Director, OLLI @ University of Dayton

Jeanette Toohey, Director, OLLI @ University of North Florida


How to Raise $50,000 in Six Weeks

Have you ever noticed how much work you can get done the day before a deadline?  Or how many volunteers you can enlist in a task that takes a few hours?  Most people do best under the pressure of a well-defined structure and deadline.  In this workshop participants will learn ways to build fundraising around this principle, freeing individuals from the feeling that they must be doing some fundraising every day all year long, and making their fundraising far more successful. Participants will also find out how to structure a time-intensive campaign, decide on a theme for the six weeks, recruit and train volunteers to do the soliciting, and make sure they stay on top of all the details.


Kim Klein, Fundraising Consultant and Teacher, Klein and Roth, San Francisco, CA


Leadership Excellence for Advisory Committees

Defining the distinctions and roles of an Osher Institute’s Advisory Committee or Board is the first step in ensuring that volunteer leaders are able to find ways to contribute meaningfully in the complex environment of academia. Many leaders come from contrasting business backgrounds, accustomed to serving on corporate or non-profit “strong boards” that hold fiduciary responsibilities. How do successful advisory board leaders achieve positive results? How do they collaborate efficiently with the Institute’s paid staff to balance large workloads for their OLLI? And what are effective practices in developing new leaders with transition plans to ensure long-term success for an Institute? An experienced OLLI director will moderate a panel of three diverse OLLI volunteer leaders to explore and discuss their perspectives and reflections on lessons learned.


Andréa Sisino, Director, OLLI @ University of South Carolina Beaufort


Volunteer Leaders recruited from three varied Osher Institute programs


Community Aging Initiatives

Retirees are increasingly interested in communities that offer the best conditions for full, convenient, and purposeful living. Many of these intellectual, cultural, athletic, and natural resources often surround Osher Institutes and their campuses. Community-building movements such as Age Friendly Communities, Age Friendly Universities, and Village-to-Village are growing in popularity and power. How can OLLIs develop common cause with these burgeoning movements for healthy aging in their towns and cities, whether inspired by them or other wellness-oriented retirement communities? After introductory remarks, this session will offer three roundtables for participants to visit with different OLLIs and discuss their experiences with these movements, allowing deeper questions and answers.


Avi Bernstein, Director, OLLI @ Brandeis University

Susan Hoffman, Executive Director, OLLI @ University of California, Berkeley

Richard Knopf, Director, OLLI @ Arizona State University

Megan Whilden, Executive Director, OLLI @ Berkshire Community College


Hot Topics: Innovative Course Content

Noted business innovator and author Tom Peters once said, “Swipe from the best, then adapt.” This session will help participants swipe from some of the best as multiple Osher Institute leaders share creative courses in history, literature, film, and aging, along with ideas on innovative presentation models for large groups and intergenerational inclusion. The “Hot Topics” format will call for six rapid presentations from presenters, followed by lively questions and answers to engage all participants as they seek to adapt these innovations for their OLLIs. 


Jim Peters, Director, OLLI @ The University of Kansas


Eddie Baca, Volunteer Leader, OLLI @ San Diego State University

Bill Furtwangler, Volunteer Leader & Ben Richards, Assistant Director, OLLI @ University of Michigan  

Margaret Riley, Volunteer Leader, OLLI at Duke University

Pat Walker, Program Manager, OLLI @ Kennesaw State University

Maralie Waterman-BeLonge, Program Supervisor, OLLI at University of New Mexico


Tuesday, 2:30 – 3:15pm

Influences in the Recruitment and Retention of Volunteers

This session will focus on the recruitment and retention of volunteers through examination of the psychology of leadership. An Osher Institute director will discuss the theories of motivation, leader/follower dynamics, and organizational climate. The presentation draws not only on theory but also on data from a 2017 online survey of 300 OLLI participants at six Osher Institutes. The survey data provide a snapshot of perceptions of the organizational health of each Institute and the individual well-being of volunteers, as well as the motivational triggers that inhibit or foster recruitment and retention of volunteers. The survey results indicate a desire among volunteers for rewards and recognition as well as training and support to enhance the volunteer experience. Understanding the psychology of leadership and real-world concerns will assist participants in developing strategies to optimize positive outcomes for recruitment and retention of volunteers at their OLLI.


Jennifer Disano, Executive Director, OLLI @ George Mason University


Engaging with Campus Grant-Sponsored Research Projects

In this session, participants will explore the potentials of developing productive partnerships with campus research projects that are supported by federal grants and other external funding. Sponsored research projects (primarily in the sciences, but increasingly in other disciplines as well) are now required to include an outreach component to demonstrate the real-world benefits of the research project – and partnering with OLLIs enables professors and researchers to conduct their outreach efforts in a vibrant and intellectually challenging atmosphere. The benefits of such a partnership are numerous: new OLLI instructors and courses based on the research projects; increased connections to the campus and opportunities for lectures, volunteer opportunities, and in-depth tours of the research facilities; and even additional funding for OLLIs to support these new initiatives. This session will look at how to identify, develop, and nurture these creative campus collaborations to yield mutually beneficial results.


Chris Catanzarite, Director, OLLI @ University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Tornadoes, Floods, Hurricanes: Are We Prepared for Disaster?

Unfortunately, there are some Osher Institutes that have been sideswiped by an unanticipated crisis or natural disaster. Join a panel of three OLLI Directors who have managed successful recoveries from a hurricane, pipes bursting in a building, and displaced members due to a natural disaster. This panel will describe their experiences, allowing participants to learn from them and ask questions relative to disaster preparation, management, and recovery. What are common practices to prepare for any type of crisis or emergency? What measures can be taken in advance? How can OLLI staff manage through a crisis and what university or community resources are available to help?  Participants will also have the opportunity to share their own crisis-management solutions.


Adam Brunner, Director, OLLI @ Temple University

Debra Herman, Director, OLLI @ Florida State University

Michelle Sierpina, Founding Director, OLLI @ UTMB Health


A Virtual Visit to the Senior Planet Exploration Center

Older Adult Technology Services (OATS) is a social impact organization that builds sustainable new systems to change the way we age. Since 2004, OATS has helped 30,000+ older adults use technology to achieve transformative outcomes across five impact areas: social engagement, health and wellness, financial security, advocacy and civic engagement, and lifelong learning and creative expression. It has innovated an award-winning model for program design and technology-based education that could inform the way your OLLI approaches technology. In Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, OATS built the Senior Planet Exploration Center—the country’s first technology-themed center for seniors. The Center is a large, retail-level community space outfitted with state-of-the-art technology for collaborative training, independent access to a variety of devices and support, and community activities and special events. The Senior Planet Exploration Center represents a collective vision for a new type of community space where older adults can come together to learn, work, create, and grow. Take a LIVE, interactive tour led by OATS Director of Strategic Initiatives Kimberly Brennsteiner with the help of a telepresence robot, a videoconferencing screen mounted on a moving base. Learn about this impressive not-for-profit organization, its distinctive view on aging, and how it is using technology to help older adults accomplish their personal goals, lead more fulfilling lives, and thrive in the digital age.


Kevin Connaughton, Manager of Adult Learning, Osher National Resource Center


Kimberly Brennsteiner, Director of Strategic Initiatives, OATS, New York, NY


The Products and Services of the Osher NRC

The National Resource Center for Osher Institutes (NRC) has organized resources into accessible digital assets to allow convenient self-service for staff and volunteer leadership to find ideas and answers on common practices. The products and services offered to Osher Institutes are not meant to replace individual consultations, but to improve the depth of discussions. The NRC’s mission is to help OLLIs thrive: by connecting the 121 Institutes, by collaborating with and among them, by consulting with them on effective practices and solutions, and by celebrating the successes of OLLIs.  In this session, learn about the growing tools and resources developed by the NRC, including explanations on how they can be accessed and how these resources can be instrumental in growing your local Institute’s success.


Steve Thaxton, Executive Director, Osher National Resource Center


Wednesday, 10 – 11:15am

Approaches to Membership Recruitment

Word of mouth is consistently cited as the most effective way Osher Institutes recruit new members. However, this practice can lead to a very homogenous and in-bred membership. What are the innovative ways being used to attract new prospects and broaden the mix of potential members? Join leaders from three OLLIs as they recount their varied methods of recruitment, including targeted marketing, focus groups, pilot programs, pricing alternatives, and various products such as off-site tours, streaming lectures, and evening hours, as ways to reach those not currently involved. This session will allow for significant questions and answers with attendees, so come prepared to discuss your successes and challenges.


Scott Aldridge, Director, OLLI @ University of Arizona

Meg Hovell, Volunteer Leader, OLLI @ University of Arizona

Peggy Watson, Director, OLLI @ University of Richmond

Norma Clippard, Director, OLLI @ Vanderbilt University


My University Doesn’t Like Me: How to Approach the OLLI-University Relationship

Staff and members of Osher Institutes sometimes feel their host universities don't fully understand or appreciate them. Or, that University administrators may not see the full value of a lifelong-learning institute and how it contributes to the college’s central mission. In this interactive session three OLLI directors and workshop participants will develop strategies to recognize, demonstrate, and communicate the positive contributions OLLIs make to their to campus communities. Suitable for OLLIs in all variety of administrative settings, this session aims to strengthen Institute-University relationships and help Institutes become more integrated within the fabric of the University/College.


Catherine Frank, Director, OLLI @ University of North Carolina, Asheville

Kirsty Montgomery, Director, OLLI @ Northwestern University

Barbara White, Executive Director, OLLI @ California State University, Long Beach


Diversity and Inclusion at OLLI (and Beyond): Deeper Discussion

This breakout session will build upon the discussion from the Diversity and Inclusion plenary session.  Participants will dig deeper into the meaning of diversity and inclusion with a discussion and activity-based approach to building a deeper understanding of what diversity and inclusion mean. This includes the ways that we are all affected by, and that we affect others, especially through subtle, nonconscious processes of stereotyping and cognitive biases.


Dr. Destiny Peery, Associate Professor, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Chicago, IL


The Power of Distance Learning

Distance learning (DL) has rapidly become integral to higher education and indeed expected in most college-level learning endeavors. This session will provide the fundamental concepts and terminology of DL and demonstrate promising practices of learning technologies for the uninitiated. It will also offer time for relevant small-group dialogue on the important shared OLLI value of building social learning communities. How can distance learning deliver the tools to improve the OLLI learning experience while protecting social engagement? How can our learning offerings become more inclusive for OLLI programming? How can we ensure access to those with issues of disability, affordability, or mobility? And what will future OLLI members expect of our programs in the years to come? Join two DL experts from one of the country’s premiere university online education divisions at Arizona State University (ASU), along with ASU’s OLLI director for this rousing exploration of the power of technology to enhance the Osher Institute learning experience.


Darcy Richardson, Director of Continuing and Professional Education, EdPlus, Arizona State University Online

Peter Van Leusen, Manager of Instructional Design, EdPlus, Arizona State University Online

Richard Knopf, Director, OLLI @ Arizona State University


OLLIWood Squares: Battle of the Catalog Stars

Ninety-one percent of Osher Institutes print and send catalogs to members, a significant investment of time and dollars in marketing OLLI to members and prospects. Many catalogs are amazingly creative. This lively session takes on a game-show format to highlight effective practices in three categories: design, innovation, and photography. With nine competing OLLIs, see who comes out on top of the “Catalog Stars” and bring home some fresh ideas for improving one of your most prominent marketing pieces.


Ann Nikolai, Program Director, OLLI @ California State University, Chico



Tracy Jacobs, Director, OLLI @Towson University

Michele Crompton, Program Director, OLLI @ California State University, Monterey Bay

Jill Wagner, Executive Director, OLLI @ California State University, Fresno


La Margo Washington, Director, OLLI @ California State University, Dominguez Hills

Kim Beck, Executive Director, OLLI @University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Dee Aguilar, Coordinator, OLLI @ University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Josh Raney, Director, OLLI @ University of Arkansas

Rosemary Reinhardt, Executive Director, OLLI @ Boise State University

Lauren Andersen, Director, OLLI @ University of Utah