James Firman, EdD
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James Firman, EdD


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President and CEO

Areas of Expertise

  • Economic Security for Seniors
  • Healthy Aging
  • Public Policy & Advocacy
  • Benefits for Older Adults
  • Mature Workers
  • Nonprofit Funding & Sustainability


James Firman


For more than 30 years, James Firman, EdD, has been a leading force for innovation in services, programs, and public policies for older persons.

Under his leadership, NCOA has developed many nationally acclaimed programs to improve the health, independence, and economic security of older adults. NCOA has also developed world-class core competencies in collaborative leadership, fostering and scaling evidence-based innovations, and advocacy.

Prior to joining NCOA as president and CEO in January 1995, Firman was, for 10 years, founder and CEO of the United Seniors Health Cooperative (USHC), a nonprofit consumer organization. At USHC, he directed the development of the early versions of BenefitsCheckUp®, now one of NCOA’s core bodies of work.

Also at USHC, he oversaw the development of one of the nation’s first insurance counseling programs for older adults, which helped lead to the development of the national Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP). As an advocate, he significantly influenced the development of federal Medigap legislation and long-term care insurance regulations throughout the United States.

From 1981 to 1984, Firman served as a senior program officer at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where he helped develop initiatives in aging and health care finance, as well as the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers program.

Firman has served in several national leadership roles, including Chair of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (three times), Board Chair of the National Human Services Assembly, and Chair of the Independent Sector’s National Advisory Committee on Charting Social Impact.  

For the last three years he has been named one of The NonProfit Times Top 50 leaders on their Power & Influence list.

Firman earned his MBA and his EdD from Columbia University.