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AARP AARP States Oregon

Meet Our Volunteers

Volunteer Conversations
by Marilyn Padilla, Community and Engagement Intern

AARP volunteers are a crucial part of our organization. They bring a lifetime of experience, passion for the well-being of their community, and a desire to serve. This site will offer a new volunteer conversation every month. We’ll begin by featuring members of AARP Oregon’s Executive Council of volunteer leaders.

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Arlene Krasner

Volunteer Lead for Recruitment, Training, and Onboarding and member of the AARP Executive Council.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Before retiring in 2005, I was the Director of Hardware Engineering for a small high technology company in Portland, Oregon. I taught technical writing and leadership to technical communicators and engineering students at Portland State University for over ten years. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from New York University and a Master’s degree in English Writing from San Jose State University. From 1978 to 1980, I taught sign-language to chimpanzees for the Washoe Project. Since retiring, I have worked with non-profits in Mexico and Oregon.

How long have you volunteered with AARP and what drew you to AARP? 

I have been a volunteer since 2017. I was drawn to AARP because I believed in what they were doing. As I became more involved, I found my niche. I became an AARP Oregon State Volunteer leader, working as the Volunteer Lead for the Southern Oregon Community Action Team and the On-Boarding.

What do you like best about volunteering with AARP?

I like that I am appreciated. I get to do the kind of work I like, which is working with teams.

AARP is working on a number of important issues right now, from prescription drug pricing, age discrimination, affordable and accessible housing, and transportation, livability and more. Of these other issues that AARP works on, what is the most important to you and why?

Affordable and accessible housing and transportation are very important to me.  I feel affordable housing and transportation go hand-in-hand. These are issues that not only affect seniors but also so many other groups. It is very universal.

What would you say to someone considering volunteering with AARP? 

Do it! You will love being part of a great organization.

What is your passion or occupation outside AARP? 

I love to cook and have written a food memoir (Kosher Sutra). During the pandemic, my husband and I co-wrote a book (She Cooks, He Eats). I love going to theater and especially love ballet. Also going out to eat, trying new foods. And, of course, I love to read.

 

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Madeline Kovacs
Housing justice advocate and member of the AARP Executive Council.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I believe that housing justice is climate justice. I started to focus on the built environment through graduate work in land use planning and advocacy for local and statewide housing policy and zoning reforms. I coordinated the Portland for Everyone coalition with 1000 Friends of Oregon, advocating for reforms to Portland’s single- and multi-dwelling zones, among other campaigns, organized to help pass Oregon’s HB 2001 (2019) and Seattle’s recent ADU reforms with Sightline Institute, and co-founded Portland: Neighbors Welcome. I also serve on the AARP Oregon Executive Council.

How long have you volunteered with AARP and what drew you to AARP?

I’ve been volunteering formally for about a year on the EC, but informally for 5+ years as a partner. I initially became involved with AARP Oregon in 2016, when I was coordinating the pro-housing Portland for Everyone Coalition with 1000 Friends of Oregon. AARP's focus on affordable housing and physically accessible housing was critical to advancing the Residential Infill Project and the Better Housing by Design projects past their initial scope, greatly expanding then- "missing middle" housing options in the City of Portland. AARP has long been a champion of expanding housing choices, from early pioneering work to advance Accessory Dwelling Units to reports like Making Room.

What do you like best about volunteering with AARP?

I like the feeling that I am helping our whole community age better. In America, I feel that too often older adults don't participate in daily life of their families or their communities, and when that happens everyone loses. I want to live in a society where the contributions and wisdom of older adults is valued.

What do you like best about volunteering with AARP?

The issue I work on the most is housing, but in the broader context of smart, energy-efficient land use and AARP's own Livable Communities program are efforts that I am truly passionate about. Also, I value the recent work that AARP has done to raise awareness of age discrimination in the workplace.

What would you say to someone considering volunteering with AARP?

Do it! You'll have a ton of fun and learn some things along the way.

What is your passion or occupation outside AARP?

I am currently the Development Manager for Adre. I believe in Adre’s mission to innovate and lead in sustainable building techniques while creating social and economic benefits and industry opportunities for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), centering equitable outcomes in our built environments. I also enjoy hiking and traveling, especially somewhere I don't speak the language.


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Mike Fieldman
A dedicated member of the AARP Executive Council. His passion for human service and expertise in advocacy enriches our mission to enhance the well-being of older adults.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Having grown up on the southside of Chicago, I experienced first-hand, a diversity of people and life situations that exist in our society. I was exposed to people from all income levels, different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and a range of experiences. Because of this I saw how a family situation a person is born into can dictate the life paths people are open to or how hard different paths would be to pursue. It ingrained in me a desire to address social injustices. This desire led me to a 45+ year career working in human services and social justice organizations in both non-profit and governmental settings in multiple states across the country like Illinois, Montana, Washington, and Oregon. The last 20 years of my career I was the Executive Director of the United Community Action Network (UCAN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting equity, located in Roseburg. I also had the privilege of being a legislative assistant for Oregon Representative Gary Leif working on housing, homelessness, and behavioral health issues.

How long have you volunteered with AARP and what drew you to AARP?

I have been an AARP member for years, but I am relatively new to AARP as a volunteer. I have been a volunteer just over a year. AARP plays an important and effective role in advocating for senior issues and when I was given a chance to become a member of the Oregon Executive Council, I saw it as an opportunity to put my years of human service and legislative experience to use toward a new mission, to advocate for the needs of seniors and continuing my life’s work to make a positive difference and address social justice issues.

What do you like best about volunteering with AARP?

I am in support of the all the issues AARP supports, locally and nationally. I have supported issues centered around equity and believe in the work that AARP does which is what I like best.

What AARP issues are the most important to you and why?

The issues that are most important for me are the issues of affordable and accessible housing and transportation. These issues are an extension of the work I did before retiring. Some of the activities around these issues were supporting affordable housing projects, serving on the Oregon State Housing Stability Council, and providing services for the unhoused and people at risk of homelessness. I also have been an advocate for the construction of tiny homes as an important tool for addressing the housing shortage in Oregon. Additionally, while running UCAN, the agency operated the public transportation system in Douglas County, as well as provided Medicaid Transportation services. Both housing and transportation are key critical issues for seniors especially for seniors in rural areas.

What would you say to someone considering volunteering with AARP?

I would say to “go for it.” There are many different areas and ways to volunteer that will make a positive difference for seniors. Just know that you have a dedicated group of people supporting you in whatever you do.

What is your passion or occupation outside AARP?

I enjoy being in nature, traveling and making music. I currently live in Roseburg with my wife of 33 years. We have a daughter who lives and works in Australia which means we get to spend time traveling and visiting there.

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Craig Bussey
A long-time AARP Oregon volunteer who has dedicated many hours on a variety of projects and issues around driver safety.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a retired educator and management professional with a strong background in strategic planning and management education. I earned my undergraduate degree from Ripon College in Wisconsin, and an MBA with a concentration in Quantitative Management from Georgia State University (GSU). I continued my education and completed the PhD program at GSU in Business Education focusing on developing management development programs for business. While I was an Associate Professor for the University System of Georgia, I initiated the first post-graduate level class in Business Strategy. I also developed courses for the Project Management Institute (PMI) in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. PMI is a non-profit Project Certification organization in which I conducted classes as an affiliate of George Washington University throughout the United States and globally (including Europe, and China). I have also served as Corporate Training Director for Menlo Worldwide (a locally based logistics company) and Simmons USA (the Atlanta based manufacturer of bedding projects), and as Chairperson of the Management Department of Massey Business College in Atlanta. Currently I serve on the AARP Oregon Executive Council and am State Coordinator of Oregon Driver Safety.

How long have you volunteered with AARP and what drew you to AARP?
I became involved with AARP over 5 years ago after attending a Smart Driver class. After the class session, the instructor asked for volunteers to teach the class and I volunteered because of my background and interest in adult education. I helped with organizing and teaching classroom courses in my area and felt a part of the local Driver Safety community of dedicated volunteers.

What do you like best about volunteering with AARP?
No two days are ever the same. There are always events and opportunities to engage. I continually encounter new challenges to be overcome and be resolved volunteering with AARP. It helps keep the mind stimulated.

AARP is working on several important issues right now, from prescription drug pricing, age discrimination, affordable and accessible housing, and transportation, livability and more. Of these and other issues that AARP works on, what is the most important to you and why?
No one issue is more important than another. There is, or should be, synergy among the various programs. The eight domains of livability should complement one another. In the final analysis, Driver Safety relates to Transportation, which is a major element of seniors remaining mobile – hence helping communities remain livable.

What would you say to someone considering volunteering with AARP?
AARP is an organization where everyone has one or many skills, that can help our programs improve the quality of life for seniors.

What is your passion or occupation outside AARP?
AARP is an integral part of my life. A lot of what I do and who I am involves AARP. Therefore, it is difficult to segment a passion that would be outside of AARP.

Marilyn Padilla is currently the community and engagement intern with AARP Oregon. She is enrolled in the Community and Regional Planning program at the University of Oregon. She is most interested in AARP’s Age-friendly Communities and Livable Communities work.

About AARP Oregon
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.