AARP Rhode Island Recognizes Phil Zarlengo for His
Dedication and Commitment to Community Service with its
Most Prestigious Volunteer Award
WARWICK, RI – Phil Zarlengo of Jamestown has received the 2017 AARP Rhode Island Andrus Award for Community Service — the Association’s most prestigious and visible state volunteer award for community service.
AARP Rhode Island chose Zarlengo for his remarkable service, which has greatly benefited Rhode Islanders, supporting AARP’s vision and mission, and inspiring other volunteers.
He served as AARP Rhode Island’s first volunteer State President and has remained an active volunteer for nearly a decade since.
He was selected to serve on the AARP National Board of Directors and elected Board Chair before stepping down in 2012. During his 14 years of volunteer service, he has been an energetic advocate for the protection of 50+ Americans, a staunch defender of Social Security and Medicare, and a strong voice in improving healthcare quality and access for all.
Zarlengo is a leader in AARP’s national effort to support and empower volunteers and is AARP’s designee on the FEMA National Advisory Council.
The award was presented to Zarlengo at a ceremony on Sunday, December 10, at the Warwick Country Club, Warwick. Pictured with Zarlengo are AARP State President Alan Neville, State Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson, Sen. Dawn Euer, AARP State Director Kathleen Connell and Sen. Lou DiPalma.
“This award acts as a symbol to the public that we can all work together for positive social change,” says AARP Rhode Island State Director Kathleen Connell. “AARP has long valued the spirit of volunteerism and the important contributions volunteers make to their communities, neighbors, and the programs they serve.”
The award was presented by Joan Ruff, current AARP National Board Chair. “You have left more than a legacy of service for those of us who have followed in your footsteps,” she said. “Your instinct to emphasize the value of state offices and engines for positive social change and to focus on what we now call engaging locally was spot on. You made the case that the more engaged our membership is with AARP the more likely they are to get involved, to renew their commitment and to tell friends and family members about the value of the work we do.”
From the very beginning, you understood that our members need to feel that AARP is their AARP; that they need to feel that they are an integral part of this organization – which we all know they are. We are attempting to carry on that philosophy to this day.
Phil Zarlengo, with AARP National Board Chair, Joan Ruff.
Huff also conveyed a letter from AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, which read in part, “Having previously served as AARP Rhode Island’s State President, as a national board member for six years and as AARP Board Chair for two years, you know as well as anyone the high level of commitment and dedication this honor represents.
“As a former state president, you were always thinking about how to make the states and national office work more closely together and how to make AARP a stronger presence in local communities across the country.
“You were instrumental in pushing for the integration of the states into AARP’s strategy development and in making AARP more of a local presence across the country. As president of AARP Foundation at the time, I was energized by your support for The Drive to End Hunger and our efforts in financial services,” Jenkins wrote.
“When AARP decided to bring Experience Corps into the AARP family of programs, you saw the benefit of serving all generations to help strengthen our communities. And, as AARP’s representative to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), you spearheaded AARP’s relief efforts in communities hit by natural disasters, leaving a legacy we continue to build on today.
“Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus once wrote, ‘Our community is the place where we, as older individuals, can be most effective. In no other place can we gain so much cooperation and win so many champions and supporters.”’ Pil, once again you have shown Dr. Andrus to be a wise woman.”
“Working with Phil Zarlengo has been a great privilege for me,” said AARP Rhode Island State President Alan Neville. “As I have gotten to know him, I have come to appreciate the depth and breadth of Phil’s knowledge and experience. His volunteer efforts extend beyond AARP to countless other regional and national organizations and span decades of giving back to the community.”
“AARP is so fortunate to work with Phil and he continues to inspire all who work with him,” added Megan Hookey, AARP Vice President of Volunteerism & Service, who attended the Warwick event.
“AARP’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, asked us all to ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are, today.’ Phil has generously shared his energy and his many skills to help improve the lives of others and live out Dr. Andrus’ words and aspirations.”
Andrus Award recipients across the nation were chosen for their ability to enhance the lives of AARP members and prospective members, improve the community in or for which the work was performed, and inspire others to volunteer.
ABOUT PHIL ZARLENGO
Dr. Phil Zarlengo is a renowned educator with a long history of public service.
He was AARP Rhode Island’s first State President and helped hire and develop the original state staff. As a reflection of his contribution, Phil eventually was selected to serve on the AARP National Board and was Board Chair before stepping down in 2012. During his 14 years of volunteer service, he has been an energetic advocate for the protection of 50+ Americans, a staunch defender of Social Security and Medicare, and a strong voice in improving healthcare quality and access for all.
Phil remains active in the organization in many roles, including AARP’s designee on the FEMA National Advisory Council, with a focus on the protection and needs of older Americans when natural disasters strike.
A native of Chicopee, Massachusetts, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Science from UMASS Amherst, an MA in History from Brown University, a doctorate in Management & Evaluation from the University of Connecticut and a Public Affairs Certificate from Tufts University.
Phil’s professional contributions have been many. He was Executive Director of Brown University’s National Education Research Lab, where he developed new models for teacher and school program evaluations disseminated across the nation. As an administrator in the RI Department of Education and the Providence School Department he monitored state and local programs for special population children. Currently, he is CEO of his own management consulting firm that evaluates and helps improve innovative school programs for low achieving students in urban schools, and is a member of the ACE Charter School Board of Directors.
“It can be said without reservation that Phil was our guiding light when asked to assist in organizing the first AARP Rhode Island state office,” said State Director Kathleen Connell, who reached out to Phil after working with him at Brown. “His advice was invaluable and his commitment extraordinary,” she added.
“He helped put our office on the map early on, and in recognition of his work he moved swiftly on to his position on the National Board,” Connell said.
“Nonetheless, he never left our fold, offering counsel and assistance whenever asked – and often when we didn’t ask. That’s Phil’s style and everyone who has ever worked with him here has benefited from his vision, wisdom and his warm enthusiasm.”
Phil lives in Jamestown with his wife Charlotte. They are parents of, Nancy Gilbert (who resides in Wellesley, Mass., with her husband Michael) and are proud grandparents of Jeffrey, Elizabeth and Abigail.