James Firman, EdD

Past President and CEO

Jim Firman

Areas of Expertise

  • Aging Mastery®
  • Benefits Access
  • Economic Security
  • Healthy Aging
  • Public Policy & Advocacy
  • Nonprofit Funding & Sustainability
  • Social Enterprise

Late Boomers: Getting Ready for Their Third Act, Padilla POV, October 12, 2017

As part of the inaugural Padilla POV presentation, Jim talked to HR and PR professionals about the needs and desires of late boomers as they turn 65.

When You’re Sixty-Four: NCOA’s Jim Firman on ‘Graduations,’ Third Acts and Happy Endings, American Benefits Podcast, July 10, 2018

Jim spoke with the American Benefits Council about pervasive misconceptions about aging, the evolving role employers can play preparing workers for retirement and the enduring search for “purpose.”


For more than 35 years, James Firman, EdD, has been a leading force for innovation in services, programs, and public policies for older adults.

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

As president and CEO, Firman led NCOA to become the national leader in benefits access, economic security, falls prevention, evidence-based healthy aging programs, and public policy for older adults, especially those who are struggling. Firman created and launched NCOA’s Aging Mastery Program®, an innovative effort to develop new expectations, norms, and pathways for people to make the most of their gift of longevity.

Prior to NCOA, Firman was founder and CEO of the United Seniors Health Cooperative (USHC), a nonprofit consumer organization. At USHC, he directed the development of the early version 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.

In 2015, NextAvenue named Firman to their inaugural Influencers in Aging list. He was one of 50 thought leaders, innovators, writers, advocates, experts, and others recognized for their work changing how we age and think about aging.

Firman also has been named to The NonProfit Times’ Power & Influence Top 50 six times in seven years. According to the publication, “Many in the aging community describe Firman as an entrepreneur and leader on innovation in services, programs, and public policies. Setting goals that are specific, achievable, and targeted, few hold themselves so specifically accountable and have had their hands in so many areas of regulation and legislation resulting in impactful change.”

Firman earned his MBA and his EdD from Columbia University.

Jim in the News

Understanding Healthcare with Paula Zahn
Oct. 2014