AARP Rhode Island State Director Catherine Taylor has named Marcus Mitchell of Providence as Volunteer State President, succeeding Phil Zarlengo, whose term ends Dec. 31.
“We are extremely excited and so fortunate to welcome Marcus into this vital position,” Taylor said. “Volunteers are the lifeblood of AARP in Rhode Island and adding his experience and expertise to our team is a golden opportunity to grow our volunteer ranks, energize volunteer engagement and lead our Executive Council.
“Marcus has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in his long and impressive career and I am confident he will enhance our volunteer strategies as well as serve as a passionate champion of our accomplishments,” Taylor added.
The AARP Rhode Island Volunteer State President serves as the principal AARP volunteer spokesperson, communicating AARP messages statewide. The President provides vision and leadership to AARP activities and chairs the state Executive Council. In partnership with the State Director and the Executive Council, develops the framework for state strategic planning and the coordination of AARP activities.
Duties also include developing a strong working knowledge of the state demographics, organizational structures, political environment and key players; assisting in building networks and community partnerships across the state with other organizations and key decision makers to further AARP goals; and engaging diverse populations in all AARP activities in the state.
Phil Zarlengo was AARP Rhode Island’s first volunteer State President and served multiple terms over the past two decades. He was selected to the AARP National Board of Directors and was elected Board Chair before stepping down in 2012.
“Phil returned as State President at about the time the pandemic changed everything for everyone,” said Taylor. “His years of service paid off mightily as AARP Rhode Island adjusted to meet our members’ needs and forge ahead on key General Assembly legislation and other key initiatives.
“His inspiring dedication and leadership helped us beyond the unexpected challenges. He has done a tremendous job leading our Executive Council and built a strong foundation for Marcus, ensuring a supportive and seamless transition – just as he was an indispensable resource as I assumed the job of State Director seven months ago. I will be forever grateful, and I am so glad he will remain an active AARP volunteer. I know he is eager to explore new roles.”
Marcus Mitchell is the founder of Shere Strategy Enterprises, a boutique strategic solutions company with focus areas in crisis management, small business start-ups and conflict resolution. He serves on the Miriam Hospital Board of Trustees, and on the board of directors of Grow Smart RI, the Village Common, and the RI Environmental Educators Association. He is a Commissioner on the RI Commission for Human Rights and a member of the RI Statewide Planning Council.
Marcus was the founding president of the Providence Community Library, the founding president of the National Urban League Young Professionals, which has dozens of chapters and thousands of members across the country, and president of Fellowship Farm, an historic international human relations training facility.
He served as a division commander in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, and continues to support environmental education programs and protection strategies, surface and harbor patrols, and disaster readiness.
Marcus is author of the book, “Leadership Secrets: Right in the Heart”; co-author of more than 15 scientific publications during a twenty-year career as a cardiovascular sciences researcher at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, and an editor of the book, “Biotechnology: Business, Regulation & Law.” He also has experience as U.S. Senate staff as a Director of Community & Economic Development, a radio talk show host, and director of a nonprofit economic development coalition in his native Pennsylvania.
A resident of Providence, Marcus has been a volunteer for AARP Rhode Island since 2018, where he serves on the Executive Council and State Legislative Committee. His term as State President began in January 2022.