March 27, 2015
The 2015 Aging in America Conference: First Time Experiences and Diverse Perspectives
By: Ben de Guzman

The 2015 Aging in America Conference wraps up today in Chicago, IL. This week has provided a unique opportunity for the Diverse Elders Coalition and its members to share their work and connect with thousands of other participants from around the country working on issues of concern for elders. As a first time attendee, I was particularly impressed with (and maybe a bit overwhelmed by) the size and scope of the conference.


My conference badge- “First Time Attendee!”


I kicked off the conference on the first day with a morning session talking about HIV/AIDS as part of an inter-generational dialogue entitled “Being Gay Ain’t What it Used to Be” with my colleague and friend, Aaron Tax, from Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). Drawing on both personal experience, as well as DEC’s Policy Brief on HIV/AIDS, the session became a fascinating discussion about the historical scope and current impacts of the epidemic.

The DEC held a face-to-face meeting to take advantage of all five members being part of the conference — perhaps the largest of its kind in the aging advocacy community. Our Symposium, “The Moment Is Now: Improving the Health and Wellness of Diverse Older Adults,” was a great venue for me to join DEC principals on stage for a session where we were able to share with audience members the unique strengths in our constituencies and how they address the challenges and disparities facing our communities.

DEC member groups were involved in a number of sessions throughout the conference, and we promoted the wealth of offerings on our blog and via social media. Just two examples:

  • The National Indian Council on Aging had a poster in the main exhibit area that provided information about American Indian and Alaska Native elders;
NICOA's Poster was on exhibit- this is the "portable version."

NICOA’s Poster was on exhibit- this is the “portable version.”


  • SAGE’s Michael Adams participated in a workshop with Nora Super, Executive Director of the White House Conference on Aging. In his comments, he talked about DEC member organizations, their work on the issues the WHCOA is addressing, and our Principles of Inclusion and Engagement
SAGE's Michael Adams speaking on a panel with the White House Conference on Aging's Nora Super

SAGE’s Michael Adams speaking on a panel with the White House Conference on Aging’s Nora Super


Our partner, the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, was able to not only announce their workshop offerings, but also the hiring of their new CEO, Dr. Wesley Lum.

I’m looking forward to working with Dr. Lum, NAPCA, and the rest of our DEC partners on the issues we work on in collaboration, with a renewed perspective of our place in the aging advocacy world.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.