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AARP AARP States Rhode Island Advocacy

The Year Ahead


A 2022 Message from AARP Rhode Island State Director Catherine Taylor

Happy New Year!  AARP Rhode Island begins the new year with an ambitious agenda, as well as a new and dynamic volunteer leader whom I am so excited to introduce.

We start with an exciting opportunity for older adults to make their views known as to how Rhode Island should spend its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars. I am hosting a tele-Town Hall at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 13, with special guest Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. You may take part simply by calling toll-free 866-495-1087.

We are geared up for a busy General Assembly session. Our 2022 legislative agenda will focus on four areas in urgent need of attention – the high cost of prescription drugs; the lack of affordable, accessible housing; long term services and support (LTSS); and voter access.

On drug costs, we will be working with state leaders and bill sponsors to address affordability, transparency, caps on out-of-pocket expenses, wholesale importation and more.

We will seek increased funding for the Livable Home Modification Grant Program, incentives to construct auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs), enhancements to Rhode Island’s the Circuit Breaker Property Tax program, and wise investment of ARPA funds in affordable, accessible housing.


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We will also work to implement LTSS reforms, supportive housing options, and solutions to the direct care workforce shortage.  And we will also advocate for expansion of paid family leave to support family caregivers, the backbone of the long-term care system.

In this important election year, we will be on Smith Hill urging passage of legislation to codify voter access changes put in place during the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic, including:   no-excuse mail voting, a permanent absentee voter list, voter registration list maintenance, enhanced signature verification, early voting, ballot drop boxes, no witness requirements a new primary election date and same-day registration. There is so much at stake. Join the ranks of our passionate State House advocacy volunteers who are so critical to our legislative success!  Email Associate State Director of Advocacy and Outreach Matt Netto (mnetto@aarp.or) or give Matt a call at 401-248-2660 to learn more.


Welcome, Marcus Mitchell!

I am so excited to start the year by welcoming Marcus into the vital volunteer position of AARP Rhode Island State President, where he will lead our Executive Council and energize our volunteer ranks.   Marcus has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in his long and impressive career and life of service, and I am confident he will enhance our volunteer strategies as well as serve as a passionate champion of our mission and our accomplishments.

A little bit about Marcus: He 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 boards of Miriam Hospital, 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.

A resident of Providence, Marcus has been a volunteer for AARP Rhode Island since 2018, where he serves on the on the Executive Council and State Legislative Committee.  His term as State President begins in January 2022.

Thank you, Phil Zarlengo!

At the close of 2021 we saluted our outgoing State President Phil Zarlengo, whose dedication to AARP is unsurpassed.  Phil was AARP Rhode Island’s very first volunteer State President and served multiple terms over the past two decades. He was elected to the AARP National Board of Directors and served as Board Chair until 2012.

Phil returned as AARP Rhode Island’s State President just as the pandemic changed everything for everyone. His years of service, deep expertise and steady hand paid off mightily as AARP Rhode Island adjusted to meet our members’ needs and forged ahead on key General Assembly legislation and other priorities.

His inspiring commitment 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 eight months ago.  I will be forever grateful, and I am so glad he will remain an active AARP volunteer, continuing to contribute his national perspective to our work in RI.

I invite you to join us! You can check out volunteer opportunities at or call us at 401-248-2674. We’ll help you find a way to make an impact that matches your interests, passions, and available time The rewards of volunteering with AARP are great – and you’ll meet the most wonderful people along the way.

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