This Saturday, May 7, marks the annual commencement of Spring Hill College on The Avenue of the Oaks where 270 candidates will be presented for graduation. Founded in 1830, the College has had the pleasure to host a myriad of inspirational speakers throughout its 186 years and this year is no exception. This year’s speaker, a graduate of Spring Hill College in 1980, Jo Ann Jenkins is recognized as a national leader and dynamic change agent and instrumental in the growth and innovation of some of the nation’s largest public and non-profit organizations.
President of Spring Hill College, Dr. Christopher P. Puto affirms, “The entire College community is deeply honored to welcome Jo Ann back to The Hill. Her accomplishments and outstanding leadership are powerful testaments to the vision and mission of Spring Hill College. We promise to form leaders engaged in learning, faith, justice, and service for life. Our young graduates can look to their commencement speaker for the perfect example of that promise in action.”
A native Mobilian, Jenkins began her career with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and went on to hold leadership positions with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Advocacy and Enterprise. From there she served as the chief operating officer for the Library of Congress overseeing a 4000-person staff and budget in excess of $1 billion.
Jenkins joined AARP in 2010 as President of the AARP Foundation, AARP’s affiliated charity, where under her leadership the Foundation’s overall donor base increased 90 percent of a two- year period. Now she serves as Chief Executive Officer of AARP where she leads a nationwide network of staff, volunteers and partners helping more than 100 million Americans, 50 and over, achieve health security, financial resilience and personal fulfillment.
Jenkins has received numerous national and international awards having been recognized with the Black Women’s Agenda Economic Development Award for spearheading investments undergirding innovative social impact programs, the 2014 Peace Corps Director’s Award and the 2015 SmartCEO’s BRAVA award honoring top female chief executives. Also in 2015 she was named one of The NonProfit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50 and Washington Life Magazine named her one of its Power 100.
“The education I received at Spring Hill College and its focus on learning, faith, justice and service is something I continue to draw on every day,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, a 1980 Spring Hill College graduate (B.S., Political Science) and this year’s commencement speaker. “I may have graduated in 1980, but what I learned and experienced at Spring Hill is as alive for me now as it was then.”
Jenkins photo credit: Timothy Greenfield Sanders