Network Leadership Council Chair Janine Vanderburg is leading our strategy work. She reports on your responses to our summer survey. 

Two decades ago, Marc Freedman founded around the big idea that the “aging of America isn’t so much a problem to be solved as it is an opportunity to be seized.” The Encore Network has connected and mobilized those working on the ground to make this big idea a reality in communities, with over 120 members across the U.S. and the world. 

Next month, the Encore Network will enter a new phase. We will move from being a program of to an independent organization. In this transition, it seemed wise to ask: What value does the Network provide, and how could we enhance that value?

Eighty of you weighed in on the All Our Ideas member survey, casting 1,900 votes on a list of ways the Network can provide value. 

The three highest responses were:

Connections. Connections topped the list by a wide margin, providing the opportunity to collaborate with leaders across the globe, to learn and share best practices and pitfalls. A new idea generated a lot of interest: partnering with other Network members for national funding to deliver local programs. We’ll find new ways to foster connections and develop the national funding/local programs idea in the coming year.

Content. You value the information provided by individual connections, the newsletter, webinars and our Facebook Group. Specific content you highlighted: access to innovations from fellow leaders; best practices in advocacy, fundraising and programs; and resources, tools and templates developed by others so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

The encore movement. Among those who have yet to become members, another big idea stood out: You value identification with this important movement, where we transform thinking about what it means to get older, and you value having a collective voice to speak out on issues like ageism.

Gloria Steinem once said, “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.” As we move into this new future, building on’s bold legacy, we invite members to step forward. If you’re not a member, join us.

Janine Vanderburg directs Changing the Narrative in Colorado. 

Published: September 16, 2020