A farewell message from RRF’s outgoing President, Irene Frye.

Dear colleagues and friends: 

As my tenure as CEO of RRF Foundation for Aging draws to close this week, I wanted to share my deep sense of appreciation for the opportunity to lead RRF during the last 11 years. When I started, we were in the midst of the Great Recession. Then, RRF remained true to its mission, adapted, and supported monumental work. Now, we are in the midst of a global pandemic that is challenging us again, though in different ways. Judging from the Foundation’s nimble response since March, I firmly believe that RRF, led by my esteemed colleague Mary O’Donnell, will emerge on the far side of this crisis stronger, even more deeply and effectively committed to improving the quality of life of all of us as we age.

In reflecting on my experience at RRF, I would like to acknowledge first and foremost what a privilege it has been to work with RRF’s grantees. Your insight, your creativity, and your passion have been inspiring. As more of us live longer, and often better lives, you have been relentless in developing new and needed solutions that address the needs of older people and enable all of us to remain as active members of our communities. Your ability to pivot quickly and effectively in the face of a pandemic that is so deadly to older adults has been remarkable.

Looking further ahead, I am eager to see how our grantees respond to RRF’s new strategic plan, which focuses our grantmaking on four priority areas—caregiving, economic security in later life, housing, and social and intergenerational connectedness. These issues are fundamental to allowing all of us to age where we want to and how we want to. I suspect future and existing grantees, many of whom are already working in these areas, will continue to lead our communities and the nation in aging.

I would also like to acknowledge my colleagues in philanthropy. Even though the number of foundations that focus on aging remains small, more grantmakers are recognizing the importance of funding programs and policy efforts that benefit people of ALL ages. By continuing to work together, we will be better positioned to achieve what we cannot do on our own. I have been proud to collaborate with so many funders in aging to pool our expertise, our networks, and our dollars to support transformative efforts that have made a difference in the lives of millions of older people across the country.

Finally, I would like to celebrate the amazing RRF team, both past and present members of the board and staff. I have loved every moment we worked together. You have been so supportive not only to me, but to each other. As a team, we have worked like a well-oiled machine! While only a Zoom call away, I will miss you dearly.

Looking back on my time at RRF, I believe today we are a stronger Foundation with a clear direction and an exciting future. Despite the challenges presented by the current pandemic (and perhaps because of RRF’s capacity to confront them), I leave with a strong sense of optimism. I will continue to hold a special place in my heart for RRF and for each and every one of you. Thank you for the honor of working with you.

Irene Frye


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