Chapter Advisory Team Chair

Mary Ragland, Texas

A retired educator, Mary Ragland brought her teaching, administrative and research experience to AARP.  She served in leadership positions in her local Chapter, including four years as the Chapter president, and went on to serve as Team Leader for the Austin Area Community Team.  Under her leadership, the team developed and delivered leadership trainings for Chapter leaders two years in a row, then used the knowledge gained from these trainings to develop video training modules available to Chapters at under the tab “Austin Area Leadership Team.” Mary has also been an active Congressional District volunteer, advocating for 50+ individuals with local, state and federal legislators.  Mary has served as a Chapter Advisory Team liaison since 2013 and is now Chapter Advisory Team Leader.

South Region CAT Liaisons (AL, DC, KY, LA, MD, MS, SC, WV, VA)

Carolyn Thompson, South Carolina

Carolyn B. Thompson became President of AARP Chapter 753 in Columbia, SC after serving as its Secretary for three years. She is also a volunteer member of the  AARP SC Multicultural Outreach Team.  Carolyn worked with her church for several years as its Foreign Outreach Ministry leader and traveled to Kenya and Haiti for missions. She was awarded Ministry Leader of the Year in 2005 and 2006.

Retired after 30 plus years with Blue Cross Blue Shield as its Provider Enrollment Manager, Carolyn now has another job that she loves – teaching Soul Line Dancing to adults and seniors at two wellness centers in Columbia. “Soul line dancing helps seniors keep moving, helps the memory by learning the new steps, and music and dancing is good for the spirit being.” Carolyn is excited to begin a new adventure as a part of the Chapter Advisory Team.

Eileen Kennedy, Louisiana

Eileen Butler Kennedy retired in 2008 from Southern University/Baton Rouge, where she held the position of Educational Infrastructure Enhancement (EIE) Program Director in the School of Graduate Studies.  Since retirement, she has devoted her time and energy to volunteer service and community advocacy.

Eileen received the 2013 Andrus Award for Community Service, AARP LA’s most prestigious volunteer tribute, which recognizes outstanding individuals who share their experience, talent and skills to enrich the lives of others.  She is the President of Mid-Town Louisiana AARP Chapter 5433, a member of the State AARP Capitol Advocacy Team, and looks forward to serving and sharing as an AARP Chapter Advisory Team (CAT) member.

Eileen also serves in leadership positions with several foundations and boards, nationally and locally, and is active with her neighborhood association and the Baton Rouge council on promoting, educating and empowering women.  An accomplished musician/pianist, she is the Director of Music at the First Presbyterian Church of Scotlandville, LA and is frequently asked to accompany soloists at events and programs.

Eileen strives to make a positive difference wherever she serves.  She sees her appointment to the Chapter Advisory Team (CAT) as a golden opportunity to continue to promote the importance of volunteerism and firmly believes that “we need the engagement of volunteers now more than ever.”


Large Region CAT Liaisons (AZ, GA, IN, MI, MO, NJ, NC, TN, WA)

Ginny Creager, Arizona

AARP advocacy provides a meaningful channel for Dr. Ginny Creager to share her university experience in the areas of teaching, leadership and service.  At AARP, she has served in these same dimensions as an AZ State Office Lead Volunteer, two-term Executive Council Member and liaison to the state office for “historic Chapter 1” in Youngtown.

From 2002 to the present, she has been busy with the State Advocacy Committee, Advocacy Steering Committee, and all major campaigns doing presentations and training locally and statewide. She built an outreach presence in Payson, AZ from 2002 through 2010.

Ginny been a Chapter member since 2010 when she moved to the Phoenix metropolitan area, where she coordinated the Pitney Bowes and Red Cross “Holiday Mail for (military) Heroes.”  Her late uncle, Joe S. Correa of Colorado Springs, CO, was an AARP volunteer who inspired her to serve as well.  With pride, the legacy continues!

Stanley Yeargins, Tennessee

Stanley Yeargins is a retired educator (teacher and administrator) from Murfreesboro, Tennessee with 32+ years of experience. He has been an AARP member for over 15 years. He is currently the President of AARP Murfreesboro Chapter 4599 and a volunteer leader for AARP Tennessee. He is also the Pastor of Mt. View Missionary Baptist Church in Smyrna, Tennessee.


East Coast Region CAT Liaisons (CT, DE, ME, MA, NH, PR, RI, VT, VI)

Ann Gardella, Rhode Island

A retired music educator, Ann Gardella found that AARP was a perfect fit for her. She joined Chapter 207 and later became the Chapter’s president.   Some years later, she was appointed Rhode Island’s first AARP State President.  Ann now serves as a member of the AARP RI legislative committee, a member of the Executive Board, and Executive Director of the Rhode Island Retired Teachers’ Association.   She received the Andrus Award for Community Service in 2004 and just recently was honored as Volunteer of the Year by the Edward King House Senior Center in Newport, RI. In addition to volunteering, she enjoys playing the piano and learning new music as well as going out for a good game of golf. Ann looks forward to working with other members of the Chapter Advisory Team and helping Chapters in each of the states grow.

Tia Scigulinsky, Rhode Island

Tia Scigulinsky was born in the Netherlands and immigrated to Seattle as a teenager with her family, ultimately becoming an American citizen. She has been married 55 years with a son and daughter, both living in the New England area with their five children.

Her professional career focused on education as a teacher and administrator.  After graduating from the University of Washington with a BA in history and education, she moved frequently with her naval officer husband and children, teaching in WA, CA, VA, Italy and RI.

Their last duty station was in Rhode Island where they have lived since 1976. Furthering her education, Tia received an MA from Salve Regina University and also attended many short-term courses. In addition to teaching for 30 years, Tia served as chair of the Social Studies Department in the Newport School System, president of the Teachers Association of Newport, a member of the Board of Directors of the RI National Education Association, and NEA Chair of Women and Children’s Issue.  She represented the NEA at the United Nations Commission on Women in 2005.

After her retirement in 2005, Tia became active in AARP.  She served in various capacities including five years as president of Rhode Island Retired Teachers and five years as RI Chapter 207 president. Tia was able to develop a large network of fellow AARP volunteers when she was selected for a year of training with AARP’s Volunteer Leaders Institute.  She continues to chair the RI State Legislative Committee and has lobbied in the State House and Congress for both the NEA and AARP.

Mega Region CAT Liaisons (CA,FL,IL,NY,OH,PA,TX)

Alvetia Smith, California

A native of Los Angeles, Alvetia E. Smith attended Howard University in Washington , DC, where she started her career with the United States Postal Service (USPS). She served with USPS for 42 years before retiring in 2012. Alvetia was the Manager of Griffith Station and later Senior Manager of Special
Events.  In that role, she handled all of the unveiling of the “First Day Issues” of Stamps, including those honoring Lucille Ball, Star Wars, Gene Autry, The Simpson, Kwanzaa and Hattie Mc Daniels. Alvetia is still volunteering for the USPS Marketing Department.

Alvetia is also proud of enlisting in the United States Army Program, which successfully trained African American women to become officers. She took on that challenge and served in the United States Army Reserve for 22 years as a Lt. Colonel, while still working for the United States Postal Service.

Before becoming an AARP Chapter Advisory Liaison, Alvetia served as director and then president of AARP Chapter 5117.   She currently serves on several nonprofit boards of directors as a member of the National Association of Postal Supervisors (NAPS); vice president of the Ladera Heights Civic Association (LHCA); director of the Sheriff’s Community Advisor Committee (SCAC); a committee member for the Sherbourne Drive Neighborhood Block Watch; and block captain for the Museum of African American Art (MAAA);

Alvetia has been married to Tyrone Smith for 20 years. They have three children and two granddaughters.


Debra Dawkins, Florida

From 1973-2003, Debra Dawkins served in the Miami-Dade County Public School System as a classroom teacher, department chairperson, Chapter I/Title I facilitator, elementary resource teacher, EESAC (Educational Excellence School Advisory Council) chairperson, and African American history advocate. In June 2003, she retired feeling that there was still more work for her to do. Debra became director of church communications at her place of worship for seven years, serving the entire membership. She continues to serve her fellow man through other organizations including AARP, Beta Tau Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., NCNW (National Council of Negro Women) and AAUW (American Association of University Women). Debra truly believes that “service is the price we pay for the space we occupy on earth.” (author unknown)

Debra’s national membership with AARP began at the age of 50. Her local Chapter membership began in 2012.  Since then, she has moved up through the ranks to where she now serves as president of the Northwest Miami Chapter 4686, an ambassador for the State of Florida, and a member of the CAT (Chapter Advisory Team) for the Mega Region.  “As I sit back now and look over my life I can truly say how my life has been reimagined in my senior years.”  After serving my first full year as president in 2016, the Northwest Miami Chapter #4686 was recognized as “Chapter of the Year” for the State of Florida. With the documentation and level of activity provided with the application our chapter was a unanimous choice for the committee.


West Region CAT Liaisons (AK, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, UT, WY)

Jerry Gunderson, New Mexico

From 2009 to 2012, Jerry Gnderson represented AARP at the Information Center at the Mall of America.    As one of three lead volunteers, he put together a work schedule for volunteers and developed a report that was sent to AARP’s National Office on a monthly basis. Jerry also advocated for AARP during the legislative session and worked health fairs for AARP Minnesota.

In New Mexico, from 2012 to the present, he has served on the Local Las Cruces Chapter Board of Directors, one year as president and two years as vice president. He has worked for four years on AARP NM advocacy issues and is currently the lead volunteer for Southern New Mexico on advocacy issues and presentations.   Jerry was also selected for the Volunteer Leadership Institute in 2014.


Stanley Beckner, Colorado

Stanley Beckner is a member of the Chapter Advisory Team representing the AARP Southwest Region. He has been an AARP member since 2002.  Before that, he served for 21 years in the Air Force and another 17 working for a government contractor.  He is a member of the Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 and has served there in several capacities including president.  He currently is a Chapter board member and the Chapter public relations officer.  He also is involved in the maintenance of the Chapter web site.  Stan works closely with the AARP Colorado State Office and the AARP Foundation, both in Denver, on area activities/events.  A native of New Mexico, he currently lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Central Region CAT Liaisons (AR, IA, KS, MN, NE, ND, OK, SD, WI) 

Mary Ann Morris, Oklahoma

Mary Ann Morris lives in Oklahoma in a small town called Arapaho with fewer than 1,200 wonderful souls.

She has been active with AARP Driver Safety for six years and the AARP Fraud network for four years and has also served on the board for the AARP liaison for little over a year.  In 2016, she was accepted to the CAT team.

Mary Ann is also involved in her church and volunteers at the hospital twice a week.  This keeps her busy, which is very important, as she has more energy than she knows what to do with!  She has been blessed with her husband Robert, to whom she’s been married for going on 37 years, three children and a passel of grandchildren along with dogs, cats and four chickens!
Johnny W. McAlpine, Alabama

After retiring as a Vice-Chancellor of the Alabama Two-Year College System and former President of Snead State Community College in Alabama, Johnny W. McAlpine has been an active member of the Huntsville/Madison County AARP Chapter #1023; he served as president of that chapter for three years. During the fall of 2012, he was appointed to the first AARP Volunteer Leadership Institute(VLI) in Washington, DC which was comprised of twenty-three individuals from across the entire United States. In 2013, he was appointed to the first AARP Chapter Advisory Team(CAT) in Washington,DC. which is comprised of two individuals from each AARP Region across the US. Also, In 2013, he was appointed to the Alabama State AARP Executive Council and travels visiting every AARP Chapter in the state of Alabama.

He serves on the Huntsville Senior Center Board and is actively involved on many professional and community organizations while working part-time as an Educational Consultant across the state. He is married to Dr. Helen T. McAlpine, Retired President of J. F. Drake State Community and Technical College, Huntsville, Alabama, and they are the parents of one daughter, Carla A. McAlpine.

Join the Discussion

0 Comments Add yours