Dr. Richard Birkel to Lead NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging
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Dr. Richard Birkel to Lead NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging


March 20, 2012

NCOA Media Contact:
Ken Schwartz
Director, Marketing & Communications

Washington, DC – The National Council on Aging (NCOA), the leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization for older Americans, today announces the promotion of Dr. Richard Birkel of Washington, DC, to Acting Senior Vice President, Healthy Aging & Director of NCOA’s Self-Management Alliance.

Dr. Birkel has been a public health activist and an advocate for families living with chronic illness and disability for more than 30 years. He is a national expert on long-term care, family caregiving, and the implementation of evidence-based practices in health and mental health systems. 

At the Center for Healthy Aging, Dr. Birkel will lead NCOA’s efforts to encourage and assist community-based organizations serving older adults in developing and implementing evidence-based health promotion/disease prevention programs.

He will also lead NCOA’s Self-Management Alliance, which brings together business, nonprofit, and government leaders to develop self-management tools for millions of older adults, so they can play an active role in improving their own health.

Prior to coming to NCOA, Dr. Birkel served as Chief Executive of the Rosalynn Carter Institute and held the Pope Distinguished Chair in Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University. Birkel received his B.A. from Yale and a Masters in Public Administration and Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Birkel will take over from Wendy Zenker, who has led NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging for the past year and has worked for NCOA overall for six years, helping to provide benefits for low-income seniors and create programs to allow them to age in place. Zenker is retiring from NCOA to pursue other interests.

“Wendy has done a tremendous job advocating for older adults throughout her time at NCOA,” said Jim Firman, president and CEO of NCOA. “With her passion and leadership, NCOA is better prepared to assit all older adults by empowering them to take better control of their health and well-being. We can’t thank her enough for her vision and great work on behalf of seniors across this country. And we congratulate Dr. Birkel on his new role at NCOA. We are confident his leadership will help NCOA achieve its goal of improving the health of 4 million older adults with multiple serious health problems by 2020.”


About NCOA  The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization representing older adults and the community organizations that serve them. Our goal is to improve the health, independence, and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. For more than 60 years, NCOA has been a trusted voice and innovative problem-solver helping seniors navigate the challenges of aging in America. We work with local and national partners to give older adults tools and information to stay healthy and secure, and we advocate for programs and policies to improve the lives of all seniors, especially the most vulnerable. For more information, please visit www.ncoa.org.

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