Jim Penrod of Maumelle (second from left), was one of just 22 distinguished AARP volunteers nationwide chosen to participate in the inaugural class of the AARP Volunteer Leadership Institute. Graduation ceremonies for the first class were held Jan. 8, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Congratulating Jim are AARP President Rob Romasco (left); Margaret Seay, AARP National Volunteer Director (right, standing next to Jim); and Megan Hookey, AARP Vice President, Volunteerism & Service (behind podium).

Maumelle resident among first graduates of
AARP Volunteer Leadership Institute
Jim Penrod one of 22 honored in Washington, D.C. ceremony

 MAUMELLE—Jim Penrod of Maumelle is one of 22 exceptional volunteers across the country who graduated from the inaugural class of AARP’s Volunteer Leadership Institute.

 Penrod, a retired university administrator and current member of AARP Arkansas’ Executive Council, graduated during the ceremony held Wednesday, Jan. 8 in Washington, D.C.

 The Volunteer Leadership Institute is a rigorous and innovative training opportunity launched by AARP in December 2012 to mobilize highly skilled and motivated AARP volunteers to the next level of volunteer leadership.  The first class met both in person and virtually over a 13-month period to build their leadership strengths in one of three chosen “tracks” – advocacy, community outreach or external representation. 

Jim’s  academic career of more than 40 years included serving as Vice President of Information Systems and Chief Information Officer at The University of Memphis. He held similar positions at California State University, Los Angeles; the University of Maryland at Baltimore; and Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

 AARP is one of the leading volunteer organizations in the nation, with more than 55,000 active volunteers.  Many of them, according to Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond, have the skills and the desire to do even more.  “VLI is an investment in our volunteers – providing resources and opportunities for innovation to take volunteers with proven leadership ability to a new level.  I know of no other organization has created this type of volunteer development experience.”

 The graduation of the VLI’s first class of participants is a critical step forward for AARP as an organization.  “We have an ambitious social change agenda aimed at empowering people 50+ to enjoy the way they live and work today, while reaching their goals for tomorrow,” said LeaMond. “AARP is able to meet our goals by leveraging the talents, the skills, and the tenacity of our volunteers.”

 The results have been impressive.  “We congratulate Jim for this honor,” said AARP Arkansas State Director Maria Reynolds-Diaz. “Arkansas is very fortunate to have him selected as part of this special inaugural group. His expertise in leadership, management, research methods and higher education contributed greatly to the success of the program. Jim will continue to be involved on the VLI curriculum committee and as a mentor on leadership both nationally and in the state as a member of the AARP Arkansas Executive Council.”

  The other VLI graduates have made early strides as well, taking on new responsibilities, such as serving on committees and task forces; representing AARP as subject matter experts at events and conferences; and reaching more than 11,000 people through speaking engagements.

 AARP will host two VLI classes in 2014.  The first will begin meeting in February.

 About AARP

 AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.