AARP Leader to be December Commencement Speaker

Jo Ann Jenkins, chief executive officer of AARP, will be the speaker for December commencement at North Carolina A&T State University.

N.C. A&T’s fall graduation ceremony is set for 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Greensboro Coliseum. More than 800 students will receive their bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees. There will be a live stream of the ceremony on the university’s website,

Jenkins is the first African American woman to lead AARP. Before becoming CEO, she served as AARP’s chief operating officer, leading the organization’s work in support of Americans age 50-plus and their families. Jenkins joined AARP in 2010 as president of AARP Foundation, AARP’s affiliated charity. Among the initiatives she led was the Drive to End Hunger, a national effort to help the millions of older Americans who struggle with hunger.

Jenkins came to AARP Foundation from the Library of Congress, where she served as chief operating officer, responsible for managing the library’s day-to-day operations, its 4,000-person staff and budget of more than $1 billion. During her 15-year tenure, she developed and directed the National Book Festival.

Previously, she worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Jenkins is a Malcolm Baldrige fellow (2013), a recipient of the 2013 Black Women’s Agenda Economic Development Award for spearheading investments undergirding innovative social impact programs and one of the NonProfit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50 for 2013 and 2014.

A native of Mobile, Ala., she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Spring Hill College. She is a 1998 graduate of the Stanford Executive Program and was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters by Washington College in May 2014.