PBS's Next Avenue

2015 Influencers in Aging

Honoring 50 Thought Leaders Who Are Redefining Aging

Dr. Atul Gawande (“Being Mortal”) Named Influencer of the Year

WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwired – October 29, 2015) – What do activist Maria Shriver, cartoonist Roz Chast and NPR correspondent Ina Jaffe have in common with musician Glen Campbell, explorer Dan Buettner and bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel? They are all among the 50 remarkable people named as the first Next Avenue Influencers in Aging.

The list, which is being published today, includes thought leaders, executives, writers, artists, researchers, experts and everyday people who are changing how we age and think about aging in America. Next Avenue is public media’s first and only national service for America’s booming 50+ population.

The 2015 Influencers in Aging list also honors surgeon and author Dr. Atul Gawande as Influencer of the Year. A Harvard Medical School professor and staff writer for The New Yorker, Gawande is the author of the bestselling Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, which has had enormous impact, asking readers to reconsider end of life choices.

What it means to grow old in America

“Americans are redefining what it means to grow old in this country,” said Susan Donley, Managing Director of Next Avenue. “Our readers are hungry for new ideas, products, policies and programs that help them live the way they want as they age. Next Avenue’s Influencers in Aging are men and women who are leading that charge. We are proud to shine a light on their accomplishments and hope to inspire others to engage in this important work.”

Growing older presents challenges and opportunities, not just for individuals but also for communities, businesses and families. The individuals named as 2015 Influencers in Aging have made important contributions in Next Avenue’s five areas of focus: Caregiving, Health & Well-Being, Living & Learning, Money & Security and Work & Purpose.

To explore all 50 Influencers in Aging, please visit NextAvenue.org/Influencers.

Who are the 2015 Influencers in Aging?

The list includes leaders and innovators like activist and author Ai-jen Poo, working to improve the quality and availability of in-home care; philanthropist Bernard Osher, greatly expanding lifelong learning in colleges and universities; inventor Barbara Beskind, bringing fresh thought to product design at age 91; Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, shedding new light on the needs of LGBT elders and Marc Freedman, leader of the encore career movement.

How were the honorees selected?

Naming just 50 honorees was challenging. To select the honorees, Next Avenue’s editorial team considered a diverse pool of hundreds of people and consulted with a distinguished panel of outside advisers including experts in health, housing, work, media, philanthropy and gerontology. To be considered for the list, individuals had to be engaged in improving the lives of older adults through their work or by example. While Next Avenue serves those 50-years-old and older, nominees did not need to be older than 50.

The complete list of Next Avenue 2015 Influencers in Aging:
Americans are redefining what it means to grow old in this country


  • Roz Chast
  • Barbara Coombs Lee
  • Karen I. Fredriksen-Goldsen
  • Dr. Atul Gawande
  • Lisa Genova
  • Larry Minnix
  • Dr. Laura Mosqueda
  • Ai-jen Poo
  • Maria Shriver
  • Dr. Bill Thomas


  • Jennie Chin Hansen
  • Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel
  • Dr. Linda P. Fried
  • Cynthia Kenyon
  • Dr. Joanne Lynn
  • Kevin J. Mahoney
  • Dr. Bruce Miller
  • Felipe Sierra
  • Ken Smith
  • Nora Super


  • Barbara Beskind
  • Dan Buettner
  • Donna Butts
  • Glen Campbell
  • Laura L. Carstensen
  • Joseph F. Coughlin
  • Katy Fike
  • Rodney Harrell
  • Ina Jaffe
  • Bernard Osher


  • Susan Collins
  • Nora Dowd Eisenhower
  • Vickie Elisa
  • James Firman
  • Kathy Greenlee
  • Cindy Hounsell
  • Cynthia Hutchins
  • J. Mark Iwry
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff
  • Alicia H. Munnell
  • Sudipto Banerjee
  • Peter Cappelli
  • Tobey Dichter
  • Marc Freedman
  • Carrie Hessler-Radelet
  • Dr. Philip Pizzo
  • Lauren Stiller Rikleen
  • Ofer Sharone
  • Lester Strong
  • Barbara Vacarr




About Next Avenue
Next Avenue is public media’s first and only national service for America’s booming 50+ population. Our mission is to meet the needs and unleash the potential of older Americans through the power of media. We do this by providing news, information and advice to help our audience navigate their lives and inviting them to join in an ongoing conversation about the issues and transitions we all face. Twin Cities PBS produces Next Avenue for the PBS system and 84 PBS stations are local affiliate partners. Our content extends far beyond our website, through our national network of media partners and government and nonprofit allies. Next Avenue relies on sponsorship partners to make our service possible. For more information, please visit www.nextavenue.org.