Jo Ann Jenkins takes the reins at AARP

Written by Mary C. Hickey, AARP


Jo Ann Jenkins is chief executive officer of the world’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to social change and helping people 50 and over to improve the quality of their lives. Prior to her appointment as CEO, Jenkins served as chief operating officer for the organization, leading an enterprise-wide strategy to define priorities, align processes and allocate resources in support of Americans 50-plus and their families.

With more than 25 years of extensive leadership, management, planning and business experience, Jenkins is well known and respected in Washington and in the philanthropic, public and private sectors. She came to AARP from the Library of Congress, where she had been its chief operating officer, responsible for managing the library’s day-to-day operations, 4,000-person staff and $600 million budget.

During her 15-year tenure at the Library of Congress, Jenkins developed and directed two of its most renowned projects, the National Book Festival and the Library of Congress Experience, the largest and most complex program in its 210-year history. In May 2010 she was recognized by the technology industry with the 11th annual Women in Technology Award for her innovative leadership on the Library of Congress Experience. She is also a recipient of the Library of Congress Distinguished Service Award. On May 17, Jenkins will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters and address graduates at Washington College’s 231st Commencement.

Earlier in her career, Jenkins directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Advocacy and Enterprise, and worked at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation.

She became a member of AARP Services’ Board of Directors in 2004 and its chair in 2008, completing her service in May 2010. She is on the board of the Congressional Hunger Center. She was a delegate and founding fellow to the U.S.-Japan Leadership Program and a 1999 graduate of Leadership America. She is also a 2012 Baldrige Executive Fellow.

A native of Mobile, Ala., Jo Ann earned her Bachelor of Arts from Spring Hill College. She is a 1998 graduate of the Stanford Executive Program, offered by the university’s Graduate School of Business.