By Charlene James
As campaign season and AARP’s BE THE DIFFERENCE. VOTE. initiative heat up, AARP volunteers are active the local level, focusing on community and educational efforts. State advocacy volunteers, in particular, have been very busy in becoming acquainted with AARP national and state legislative priorities along with visiting their respective congressional and state elected officials. We are appreciative to the State Office Advocacy Team for their work and guidance.
AARP has an highly structured and effective volunteer program, borne out through training and engagement opportunities, resource materials and weekly communiques. AARP’s volunteer leadership includes its national all-volunteer Board of Directors and state Executive Councils. According to the Office of Volunteer Engagement:
The Executive Council is part of a team of leadership volunteers, who under the guidance of the State President and State Director carry out AARP’s strategic priorities within the state.
In Texas, we are very fortunate to have an Executive Council comprised of members who bring a wealth of expertise to both providing input on state strategic priorities as well as program implementation, advocacy work and more. I am pleased to profile these members for you; some of you may know them, and for others it will be an introduction.
Lawrence Randle, is a retired army retired colonel and Black Hawk helicopter pilot, who lives in Wills Point, east of Dallas. Now in his second term on the Executive Council, Lawrence holds a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Army War College in Pennsylvania. He served for 34 years. Today, he focuses on AARP’s federal advocacy agenda.
Mari Okabayashi of Houston is in her first term, but she’s volunteered with the Association for nearly a decade. A retired business management consultant, she has spoken at town hall meetings held by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Mari also volunteers with the Harris County Area Agency on Aging and the Silver-Haired Legislature.
John Vasquez of San Antonio is also in his first term. A retired Austin municipal judge, he has recently worked with AARP to advocate for housing efforts at the local level as well as for financial issues at the state level. He has served as special counsel to the state auditor and chief of the Charitable Trusts Section of the state attorney general’s office.
Jon Weizenbaum of Austin is the former Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services commissioner. In his first term on the Executive Council, Jon has worked with AARP Texas on a number of policies and advocacy issues since 1998. Jon was also the policy director for the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. He holds master’s degrees in social work and public affairs.
We appreciate all of the Executive Council members and we look forward to their continued contributions.
If you are a current or potential volunteer with expertise in technology, public speaking, housing, urban planning, law, health care or other areas, I encourage you to speak up and get more involved on behalf of older Texans and their families.