Trip Report: The 2022 Osher Institutes National Conference, by Robert Cannon

Bernard Osher, Founder of the Bernard Osher Foundation

UCLA sent me as its representative to Broomfield, Colorado, site of this year’s OLLI conference. The program ran from Monday evening on April 25 to lunch on Wednesday, April 27, 2022. There were plenary sessions (interesting speakers presenting useful information), keynote addresses (similarly learned speakers), breakout sessions (small group get-togethers), facilitated table topic discussions (similar to the breakout sessions) and plenty of food.

The first plenary session on Tuesday morning featured Diane Lebson talking about ”How to Raise the Money You Need for the Critical Work You Do.” Ms. Lebson packed a day’s worth of fund-raising ideas in one hour. Her PowerPoint presentations were especially fun (yes, it’s possible to make PowerPoints fun). One big takeaway from the session was to understand the why, as in: Why does your OLLI exist? Why should people support you?

The keynote address was entitled, “Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life” by the well-known author and psychiatrist Dr. Louise Aronson from the University of California at San Francisco. She explored the challenges associated with aging in the U.S. and offered a positive approach to overcoming those challenges. That approach includes community organizations and volunteers getting more involved with older people, and intergenerational relationships becoming more meaningful. She also talked about ageism, which is the practice of classifying anyone over the age of 60 as “old and weak.” She stressed that older adults have different needs depending on the state of their health and not all should be treated the same. She also suggested that “we are all old people in training”, that we don’t “just walk away” from older people, “you don’t just push them out on the ice” and forget them. “You must continue to provide care.”

A Breakout Session

The breakout sessions I attended included how to deal with change and its effects on staff, volunteers and OLLI members; insights into strategic planning, which was about the important question of whether an OLLI wants to be in the same place in the future as it is now; and ways to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion in OLLI programs.

The founder of the Osher Foundation, Bernard Osher, attended the opening night session and gave a brief speech. It was a real privilege seeing and hearing the man who has given so much of his time and money to create the foundation that oversees the more than 120 OLLI’s around the country. He received a well-deserved standing ovation.

Without exception the conference programs were well-run, and the staff at the national level, among them Steve Thaxton, the executive director, and Stacey Hart Rivera, manager of operations, were really helpful. One particularly fun event was the “Woo-Hoo” competitions. Each OLLI was represented by a quick PowerPoint slide which highlighted one of its most successful programs. There were two winners each day and the winning OLLI was presented with a new IPad. UCLA was represented in the competition but unfortunately was not a winner.

The conference was a great experience for me and I learned a lot. I hope that whoever represents UCLA in the future learns as much as I did about the Olli world. 

Taking a Coffee Break

Interview with J. Arch Getty on Russia-Ukraine War

J. Arch Getty

This Thursday, March 3 @ 1pm on Zoom we are hosting J. Arch Getty, a UCLA Distinguished Research Professor and expert on Russia, to speak on the developing Russia-Ukraine War. This session will last 45 minutes; he will be interviewed by Sharon Boorstin, a contributor to the Los Angeles Times, from 1-1:30pm and take Q&A from 1:30-1:45pm.The event is free for members and the public.

Sharon’s Salon: J. Arch Getty and the Russia-Ukraine War

In late 2021, Russia built up troops and heavy artillery on the border with Ukraine. On February 21, Russia officially recognized the two self-proclaimed states in the Donbas, and sent troops to the territories. Three days later on February 24, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine. The invasion received widespread international condemnation, including new sanctions imposed on Russia, triggering the 2022 Russian financial crisis. In this course, Ms. Boorstin interviews J. Arch Getty, a UCLA Distinguished Research Professor and expert on Russia. Professor Getty provides insight and predictions about this international crisis and address members’ questions. 

Click here to enroll or call 310-825-9971 ext. 601 and provide reg# 387443.

Meet the L.A. Mayoral Candidates

This November, Angelenos elect a new Mayor. The winning candidate will become the leader of the second largest city in the United States, with nearly four million residents. 

LA’s next mayor will inherit a slew of growing issues: rising homelessness, coronavirus recovery, spiking crime rates, climate change, and much more. Who is best suited for the challenge? 

To help Angelenos answer this question, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall, in partnership with Ebell LA, is hosting a 2022 Mayoral Series with the key frontrunner candidates. Live in front of a public audience, the candidates will join us to discuss their campaign’s message, critical issue areas, and distinct plans for the future of our city.

Dan Schnur

The series will be moderated by Dan Schnur, professor of politics at USC, UC-Berkeley, and Pepperdine. Mr. Schnur has been a frequent speaker at OLLI@UCLA programs.

Each session will feature a live audience Q&A, for your opportunity to ask pressing questions of LA’s next mayor.  


Tuesday, February 15th

6:30pm PST 

Fernando Torres-Gil, UCLA; Panelist, The Aging Landscape: Emerging Trends and Changing Perspectives

Fernando Torres-Gil, PhD; Professor, Social Welfare and Public Policy; Director, UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging;

According to the US Census, between 1950 and 2020 the number of adults 65 and older doubled, from eight to sixteen percent; by 2050 an estimated twenty percent of adults will be 65 and older. While advancements in medicine have significantly increased life expectancy, research indicates older adults who remain socially active live longer and feel more fulfilled. In 2018, UCLA joined the Age-Friendly University (AFU) global network to collaborate across academic disciplines, our many professional schools, and with staff, retirees, emeriti and alumni to support older adult equity.

On December 9, 2021, a panel of experts shared emerging trends in aging research and practice across UCLA, exploring how culture and society shape our views towards aging, and examining changing perspectives in the aging landscape.

One of the panelists, Fernando Torres-Gil, was also interviewed by Adriane Berg on her podcast, Generation Bold Radio, on December 8. Fernando Torres-Gil, PhD is a professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy at UCLA, an Adjunct Professor of Gerontology at USC, and Director of the UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging. He has written six books and over l00 publications, including The New Aging: Politics and Change in America (1992) and Lessons from Three Nations, Volumes I and II (2007). He is also the co-author of The Politics of a Majority-Minority Nation: Aging, Diversity, and Immigration.

Please click here to listen to the interview.

Political Potpourri Podcast

In Fall 2021, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute presented the course, Political Potpourri, led by Bob Stern, JD, former President of the Center for Governmental Studies. He reviewed current political events and issues facing Congress, the California state legislature and local governments, as well as California’s gubernatorial recall election. He examined the success and failures of President Biden’s first year and previewed midterm elections in 2022, including candidates and measures that are expected to be on the California ballot. Expert guest speakers provided their insights.

Bob Stern is the co-author of numerous books, including the Center’s Democracy by Initiative: Shaping California’s Fourth Branch of Government. He was a principal co-author of the Political Reform Act of 1974 (Proposition 9), passed by 70% of California voters, and called by the 2015 book, Game Changers, one of the 12 most important election results in California history. He was the first general counsel of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the agency in charge of administering California’s campaign disclosure, ethics and lobbying laws. He also worked for Jerry Brown when he was the Secretary of State and for Henry Waxman, when he was a state legislator. The Washington Monthly magazine described him as a “campaign finance guru,” and Peter Schrag, in the Sacramento Bee, called him the “godfather of modern political reform in California.”

Listen to the six podcasts featuring guests speakers from politics, media, public interest, as they share their insights.

9/30/2021: Guest Speaker Ann Ravel, former Federal Election Commission and FPPC Chair

10/7/2021: Guest Speaker Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation

10/14/2021: Guest Speaker George Skelton, Los Angeles Times columnist

10/21/2021: Guest Speaker Bill Press, political analyst and radio talk show host

10/28/2021: Guest Speaker Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County Supervisor

11/4/2021: Guest Speaker Congressman Ted Lieu, 33rd Congressional District

Study shows how COVID-19 changed Americans’ values and activities

A new UCLA-led study decisively confirms findings of research published earlier this year, which found that American values, attitudes and activities had changed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patricia Greenfield, a UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and senior author of both studies, said the results indicate that Americans’ activities, values and relationships have begun to resemble those found in small, isolated villages with low life expectancy — such as an isolated Mayan village in Chiapas, Mexico, that she has studied since 1969.

For example, according to the survey, people said that compared with pre-pandemic times, they are now more likely to be growing and preparing their own food, conserving resources, demonstrating less interest in financial wealth and showing greater appreciation for their elders. The researchers found all of those shifts are a function of Americans’ increased focus on survival and their isolation during the pandemic.

The study also found that during the pandemic parents expected their children to help out around the home — for example, by cooking for the family — more than they did before the pandemic.

Among the other findings:

  • Respondents reported that, as compared to before the pandemic, they were thinking substantially more during the pandemic about death and dying — including their own mortality and that of their family members, making wills and where they intended to be buried, for example.
  • People said they felt greater appreciation for their family and for elderly people during the pandemic than before.
  • While study participants said they were more focused than before on having enough money to cover basic needs like food and shelter, people were generally less focused on the goal of becoming rich.
  • Respondents reported an increase in the amount of time they spent on activities with other members of the household — shared meals and conversations.

The entire article can be found here.

Free Webinar: Alzheimer’s Research

Belmont Village Senior Living is the presenting sponsor of the Alzheimer’s Research Webinar Lecture Series. This series features presentations by outstanding thinkers and researchers, all previously sponsored by the Aging Mind Foundation. We hope you will register for these free and informative webinar lectures with moderated Q&A to learn more about current Alzheimer’s research, findings and what experts think the future looks like in regards to Alzheimer’s and dementia advancements.

To see all of the presentations and to register, please go here.

Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding

Please join The Friends of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital Board of Advisors for an Open Mind program with Daniel Lieberman, Ph.D., author of the best-selling, myth-busting new book Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, M.D. , evolutionary biologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and a cardiologist in the Division of Cardiology at UCLA, will join Dr. Lieberman in conversation.

In his new book, Dr. Lieberman, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, discusses the relationship between moderate and vigorous physical activity and human brain size and makes the argument that humans’ exceptionally large brains are in part the result of our ability to engage in endurance physical activities such as long-distance running. He also discusses why physical activity is important for maintaining brain health and that humans evolved to engage in moderate lifelong physical activity when it was necessary and rewarding, but otherwise conserve limited calories. As a result, we never evolved to exercise or do physical activity just for the sake of health and fitness. However, the absence of regular, lifelong physical activity fails to activate important repair and maintenance mechanisms that are important for neural health. As a result, habitual physical inactivity increases our vulnerability to a range of diseases.

Dr. Daniel Lieberman received degrees from Harvard and Cambridge University, and taught at Rutgers University and George Washington University before joining the Harvard Faculty in 2001. He studies and teaches how and why the human body is the way it is, and how our evolutionary history affects health and disease. He is best known for his research on the evolution of the head and on the evolution of running and walking, which he studies by combining experimental biomechanics, anatomy, and physiology, both in the lab and in the field. He has conducted research in Africa for almost 30 years, and now also works in Mexico. He loves teaching and has published well over 150 peer-reviewed papers, many in journals such as Nature, Science, and PNAS, as well as three popular books, The Evolution of the Human Head (2011), The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease (2013), and Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding (2021). In his spare time, he enjoys running.

Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz’s research focuses on the natural world as a source of insights into human pathology and developmental challenges. Her New York Times bestseller, Zoobiquity, co-written with Kathryn Bowers, was a finalist in the American Association for the Advancement of Science Excellence in Science Books Award, a Smithsonian Top Book of 2012 and a Discover Magazine Best Book of the Year. It has been translated into seven languages and has been chosen as Common Read at universities across the country. She is also the co-author with Kathryn Bower, of Wildhood – the Astounding Connections Between Humans and Animal Adolescents. Both books were featured at past Open Mind programs.

Tuesday, May 25
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM PDT

Registration is required for this free
live private Zoom event.

To register, click here.