Lester Strong is CEO of Experience Corps, an award-winning national program that engages people aged 55+ in tutoring and mentoring children in reading. The organization’s tutors have helped more than 20,000 children in 22 cities across the country.
Lester has served as Chief Development Officer for BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) and as CEO of the S.Y.D.A. Foundation. For 25 years, he worked in the television industry in New York (ABC Entertainment), Boston (WHDH), Atlanta (WSB), and Charlotte (WBTV), where he received national and local awards including five regional Emmys.
Lester also is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Noyce Foundation, which focuses on providing students with a greater appreciation for and engagement with math and science. And he serves on the Board of Visitors for his alma mater Davidson College.
Lester answered questions about the Age4Action Network:
Q. Why did Experience Corps join the Age4Action Network?
A. An appreciation for the value of adults 50+ is in the DNA of Experience Corps. The organization was founded by John Gardener and Marc Freedman as a way to leverage the experience and skills of adults to impact critical social issues in the United States and the rest of the world. I firmly believe that Experience Corps’ 15-year success record in working with children is directly tied to using 55+ members to deliver the service.
Q. What is the latest news coming out of Experience Corps that Age4Action Network members would want to know?
A. Just this week, Newsweek profiled Experience Corps as one of a small handful of organizations on the crest of a movement to enhance quality of life options for people entering the third stage of their lives. As the article notes, while the number of such organizations is growing (including Age4Action), many more are needed. Read the article.
Q. Within the movement to engage older adults, what would you say is the biggest unmet need—and how can Age4Action help?
A. I had the pleasure of listening to cultural anthropologist Dr. Mary Catherine Bateson recently. She made a critically important comment. Those of us over 50 cannot allow ourselves to be labeled as greedy consumers. It’s critical that we first and foremost see ourselves as contributors to our communities and our country. Age4Action helps to change the negative narrative regarding older adults and replace it with a perspective that honors the full complement of benefits people 50+ provide. The degree to which limited perceptions change is the degree to which creative options for service, learning, working, and leading will be unleashed.