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Cultivating a Common Language & Empowering Leadership at AARP

The AARP AgL program success story.

In a dynamic world where organizations strive for innovation and adaptability, AARP, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older, took a bold step to enhance its leadership team’s capabilities. Partnering with Georgetown McDonough, AARP and the Office of Executive Education co-created the Agile (AgL) program, a multi-module initiative designed to cultivate leadership and business skills while fostering a common language among participants.

About AARP

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AARP boasts nearly 38 million members across the United States. As a nonpartisan organization, AARP is committed to enabling individuals aged 50 and older to make informed choices about their lives as they age. With seven affiliated organizations, AARP operates as a multifaceted entity, encompassing nonprofit foundations, charities, and for-profit corporations.

The AgL Program

The AgL program, now in its fifth cohort, has proven to be a transformative journey for AARP’s leadership team. With the aim of building participants’ leadership and business acumen, the program consists of three modules, each spanning three days and delivered on Georgetown’s campus. The curriculum, initiated in 2014, covers crucial aspects of strategy, leadership, communication, and teamwork.

One distinguishing feature of the AgL program is its cohort model, carefully chosen by Georgetown and AARP to maximize learning impact across the organization. Cohorts, ranging from 25 to 40 participants, engage in collaborative learning experiences that go beyond individual skill development. This collective approach aims to instill a shared understanding and language among the leadership team.

Strategic Learning Projects

At the heart of the AgL program are the strategic learning projects (SLPs), where small groups of participants collaborate to address real organizational challenges. These projects serve as a practical application of the theories and concepts covered in the program, providing a hands-on and impactful learning experience.

The program’s success is further attributed to the involvement of Georgetown faculty who deliver sessions on strategy, leadership, communication, and teams. By leveraging Georgetown’s academic expertise, AARP participants gain insights from seasoned professionals, ensuring the program’s relevance and alignment with industry best practices.

Program Impact and Participant Testimonial

Sonia Alvarez, senior vice president of operations strategy and analysis at AARP, attests to the program’s impact, stating, “The program stands out in my mind as being very comprehensive. It focused on theory, practice, and teamwork. The program used relevant scenarios from AARP, which added to the value and the power of the experience.” 

As AARP continues to empower Americans to age with dignity and choice, the AgL program stands as a beacon of leadership development. Through collaboration with Georgetown McDonough, AARP has not only invested in the professional growth of its leadership team but also has created a lasting impact on the organization’s ability to navigate the complexities of today’s fast-paced world. The success of the AgL program reaffirms the importance of continuous learning and adaptation for organizations seeking sustained success in the ever-evolving landscape.

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Jasmine Lamb contributed to this article.
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