Bill Novelli is CEO of AARP, a membership organization of 40 million people age 50 and older, half of whom remain actively employed. AARP’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for all as we age. Prior to joining AARP, Mr. Novelli was President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, whose mandate is to change public policies and the social environment, limit tobacco companies’ marketing and sales practices to children and serve as a counterforce to the tobacco industry and its special interests. He now serves as chairman of the board. He was also Executive Vice President of CARE, the world’s largest private relief and development organization.
Mr. Novelli is a recognized leader in social marketing and social change, and has managed programs in cancer control, diet and nutrition, cardiovascular health, reproductive health, infant survival, pay increases for educators, charitable giving and other programs in the U.S. and the developing world. His book, 50+: Give Meaning and Purpose to the Best Time of Your Life, was updated in 2008. Mr. Novelli serves on a number of boards and advisory committees. He holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. from Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication, and pursued doctoral studies at New York University.
Question: Do we have a duty to do public service work?
Bill Novelli: I think we do have an obligation. But I think it’s . . . it’s deeper than that. I think people want to give back. And you see this at virtually . . . in virtually every generation. I mean when we talk about the World War II generation, look what they gave back. We talk about the boomers . . . You know and somebody wrote a book called “Bowling Alone”. And the thesis was that boomers are not going to have social capital. They’re not going to give back. I think that’s wrong. I think what’s happening is we’re seeing now that as boomers get older they want to give back. They’re into things like care giving, which are so important. They’re . . . they’re giving political contributions and social contributions to their churches, and their synagogues, and their universities. What we need for them now is to . . . is to rev up that activism that they had when they were young.
Recorded on: 9/27/07