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AARP Arkansas Announces New State President: Odessa Darrough

Odessa Darrough Special to AARP AR.png

The Rev. Dr. Odessa Darrough has accepted the position as State President of Arkansas’ premiere non-profit non-partisan organization representing those aged 50-plus. AARP Arkansas made the announcement following an introduction to Executive Council members on October 4, 2023. Darrough will serve as the Executive Council chair and represent the voice of AARP Arkansas’ volunteers and nearly 300,000 AARP members.

“AARP Arkansas could not have asked for a more perfectly aligned State President at this juncture than Dr. Odessa Darrough,” said State Director Ashley McBride. “Odessa’s impressive background and professional achievements, coupled with her passion to help Arkansans choose how they live as they age, set her nomination for this office at the top of the list. I was honored to spend quality time with Odessa recently and know that she will represent AARP Arkansas with grace and dignity.”

Darrough’s volunteer tenure will run for two years and can be renewed twice, but not to exceed six years. The appointment process is based on applications, nominations and an interview conducted by the Regional Volunteer Director and State Director. This position will provide Darrough with a platform to strengthen AARP Arkansas’ visibility and relevance by amplifying the organization’s priority issues. Some of these priorities include supporting the state’s more than 420,000 unpaid caregivers, educating on Social Security, creating more livable communities, and supporting the expansion of broadband infrastructure.

“I’m looking forward to adding my passion for health and wellness to AARP Arkansas’ already strong, mission focused work,” said Darrough. “During my time at AT&T, I was able to help people navigate the complicated world of benefits from employment to retirement. This reinforced my passion to empower people to make proactive lifestyle choices part of their daily routine. By normalizing exercise and healthy eating, you are giving yourself, and your family, a gift.”

Darrough spent 33 years with AT&T, where she served in management roles in the human resources department. While at AT&T, she made significant contributions to current and future hiring demands by establishing a robust program that exceeded corporate job placement goals. In retirement, Darrough developed a business focused on educating older adults about healthy living. Innovative Lifestyles for Senior Living, Inc., coordinates annual minority health fairs and Civil Rights summits in partnership with churches, community leaders and healthcare providers across the state. She has been an active pastor at Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) churches across Arkansas since 2012, and currently serves as Senior Pastor of Bullock Temple CME Church in Little Rock; but Darrough’s commitment to service extends beyond the pulpit and into the Central Arkansas community.

Darrough serves as chair of the Supervisory Committee for Telcoe Federal Credit Union, as vice chair of Age Friendly Little Rock, as an executive board member for Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas, Guard for the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) Chapter AL in Little Rock and is a member of the Christian Ministerial Alliance. She is a former executive board member of Arkansas Hospice and as a past president of the Lions World Services for the Blind Advisory Council. Additionally, Darrough has been involved with AARP Arkansas since 2014, where she served on the Executive Council, as an ambassador for the Create the Good program and on the Advocacy Team.

AARP Arkansas serves as a State Office of AARP, the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. Membership in AARP is open to anyone of any age, but full benefits go into effect at age 50. AARP Arkansas has chapters across the state with its headquarters in the Capital City. More than 271,000 Arkansans are members of AARP. AARP Arkansas focuses on issues that affect those 50-plus and their families such as, expanding broadband coverage to underserved communities, fair utility rates, caregiving and supporting efforts that would allow workers to save for retirement. To learn more about AARP Arkansas visit states.aarp.org/arkansas.

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