Programs Manager Lauren Ruiz

The American Society on Aging selected Adira Programs Manager Lauren Ruiz as one of its inaugural 30 Rise fellows. ASA Rise is a 20-week program meant to prepare diverse talent to lead in the field of aging.

Ruiz was chosen from among more than 120 applicants to take part in the fellowship, which “is a launching pad for the next generation of aging leadership,” according to the ASA Rise Fellowship web page.

“Our vision for ASA Rise is that it will lead to improved well-being across an increasingly diverse aging population by creating a BIPOC leadership pool that improves policies and programs at the local, state and national levels,” the site says.

As Adira’s programs manager, Ruiz designed and runs the Pervasive Needs grants program, manages demonstration projects in collaboration with nonprofit partners, and presents regular listening activities, among many other things.

Ruiz said the people Adira serves experience many of the issues the program will address.

“Quality healthcare, safe housing, and access to nutritious food are just some of the human rights which should never be, but often are, threatened by discrimination and bias, and the health and social consequences of aging,” she said. “To have real impact in neurodegenerative disease communities and give people more time, money, energy, confidence, and connection to live full lives we have to be able to address and respond to those barriers of discrimination, ableism, and ageism in the systems meant to provide them care and support.”

Training and projects

The fellowship will begin in January with a series of 10 weekly classes offering training on topics such as unconscious bias, advocacy 101, building a movement, history of social justice and aging movements, aging issues specific to communities of color and others.

In the following 10 weeks, Ruiz will work on a joint facilitated project with ASA’s On Aging Institute. Fellows will complete a project on one of ASA’s five strategic priority areas—Ageism & Culture, Economic Security, Equity & Justice, Health & Well-being, or Social Impact & Innovation—to drive systemic change in aging, and will prepare for a presentation during an ASA event in the summer of 2022.

The selection criteria for ASA fellows included demonstrating five things:

  • Commitment to Growth
  • Commitment to the Aging Sector
  • Potential for Advancement
  • Ability to Put Learning to Work
  • Contributing to the Diversity and Richness of the ASA Rise Cohort

Ruiz has worked in nonprofits for over a decade, providing education, navigation services, and emotional support to people and families living with complex and chronic diseases. Her career has focused on health insurance access and utilization, having successfully led teams of patient advocates to provide direct support services including health insurance education and enrollment to tens of thousands of people impacted by rare diseases in both private and public health insurance systems. She is an experienced program manager, public speaker, and patient and caregiver advocate who enjoys working with a diverse range of communities.

She sees the fellowship as an opportunity for her to continue learning and practice understanding inequities and disparities.

She said: “I hope to engage in intentional discussions about the intersection of health equity issues, discrimination and bias, and ageism, learn effective strategies to achieve equity in my communities, and create new relationships with others similarly interested in living in a more equal and fair world.”

For more, visit asaging.org/asa-rise.