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.

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

Remembering Michael Williams

Sunrise: March 22, 1946 – Sunset: December 13, 2020

We are saddened to share that our dear friend Michael Williams passed away in December of 2020.

The story of Mike Williams’ long career and service at UCLA is one of friendship, inspiration, work ethic, support of athletics, and enrichment of the UCLA Extension work experience. Everybody knew Mike. His presence was large at UCLA just like his heart. Mike always offered kindness, friendship, camaraderie, and passion.

Sometimes you would see him at Stan’s Donuts before work. You might bump into him in the hallway of the Extension building. He became an iconic member of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a daily presence in the lounge, in the hallways of the UCLA Extension building, and in OLLI courses.

From participating in class discussions to spontaneously providing expert IT/AV support services if needed, he found joy both as a student and instructor in the program. It was not unusual to see him share a meal with Osher colleagues or former UCLA Extension workmates who continued to seek out his company. Mike touched us all at UCLA.

His time at UCLA Extension spanned decades – from the sixties to the present. He not only touched UCLA Extension, but he also reached thousands at athletic events when, as a volunteer, he provided countless years of support for John Wooden at Bruin basketball games. From employee to retiree, Mike continued to touch colleagues and friends.

He was admired for his dedication and care for his family and community. His honesty and frankness were exemplary and an inspiration. He was always giving back and his heart guided him to help others.

It is not often we get to experience such a dedicated and inspirational colleague and we are humbled that he was part of our UCLA family.

The OLLI at UCLA scholarship program, which was launched in summer 2019, has been renamed The Michael Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund. Help us reach new audiences and increase our program’s diversity. We encourage you to share this scholarship opportunity with those who are not familiar with OLLI or with those who have been unable to participate due to financial limitations. To contribute to the Michael Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund, click here.



Two years ago, Mike asked me to create and develop a Black cinema course with him. I hesitated because I had little knowledge about that particular area of film, but he persuaded me, and thus began a partnership. For two years – and two courses – we crafted a cinema series for Black History month that sought to educate Osher members about important African-American films and their impact on and relevance to U.S. society. Mike enthusiastically recruited students for the courses and provided the class with unique insights to each of the movies viewed. He brought richness and depth to the courses, and I will miss working with him. – Maria Siciliano, OLLI Instructor


Mike Williams was a gentle-man. A kind, caring individual who possessed extraordinary “people-skills” that made him a treasure to know. After he completed military service, he found his way to UCLA. He became a full-time employee of the Audio-Visual department. He had not had the opportunity or the resources to go to college but he found much of what he was looking for at UCLA. He consumed class after class either as a student or later as a volunteer providing support and guidance to (often challenged) Extension instructors – like myself – operating A-V equipment and later dealing with The Land of Zoom. It was in this Godfather role that I first met Mike. He had the patience of Job quietly and always calmly moving me slowly along the path of basic technical competence. My courses in Extension cover Jazz Appreciation and History…a subject that Mike loved and led to a number of concert events and dinners shared with his wife Armerilyn and daughter, Jamie. Being able to call Mike a friend was special… very special. Call it Mike’s good karma or just my extremely good fortune. He deserves to be remembered. – Pat Collins, OLLI Instructor


There were so many times in my classes–many of which he audited–he’d save the day either through by fixing technical malfunctions of tired equipment, or my technical ineptitude, not to mention his sweet, kind congeniality, his enthusiastic, up-beat enthusiasm about OLLI and UCLA generally, and his readiness to help. – Carlo Coppola, OLLI Instructor


OLLI Instructor Beverly Olevin Writes Play for Zoom

OLLI Instructor Beverly Olevin Writes Play for Zoom

Live theater has gone quiet since the beginning of the pandemic. For now, audiences cannot sit together and enjoy the unique intimate experience that theater offers. Beverly Olevin, a playwright and theatrical director, who has been teaching The Play’s The Thing for OLLI @ UCLA for 15 years, has been challenged to bring the world of theater to Osher members via Zoom. Prior to the pandemic, she brought professional actors into the classroom to perform scenes. To see what could be done to engage an audience virtually, Beverly wrote a ten-minute play designed for Zoom. Take a look!

Marc and Beverly Olevin on Zoom

Beverly and Marc Olevin are honored to be be instructors for the OLLI program. Beverly’s area of expertise is theater and the arts, while Marc’s expertise is the history of science. Though their fields are different, they have a shared desire to present stimulating ideas that inspire reflection and interesting conversation. This coming winter 2021, Beverly will teach The Plays the Thing, featuring local actors doing live performances on Zoom as well as filmed versions of stage productions. Marc will teach Evolution of Science, Part 3.

OLLI Instructor Roy Meals Publishes Book on Bones

Orthopedic surgeon, Roy A. Meals, is an OLLI instructor who teaches the annual course, All About Bone. Early in his career, he developed a deep respect for human bone, especially for “its amazing constitution and the way it grows and heals.” So when he proposed his OLLI course in June 2017, he said teaching about bone would be a way to help him write a book about bone, a project he said he had been drafting in his head for more than 40 years.

We are happy to announce that his long-awaited book, Bones: Inside and Out, will be published this October. The book, like his course, details bone maladies and treatments as well as the second life of bones and how paleontologists, archaeologists, and anthropologists use bone to interpret Earth’s history.

In the book’s first section, Bone Concealed, Dr. Meals demystifies how bones grow, break, and heal and compares the particulars of human bone to variations throughout the animal kingdom. He illustrates common bone diseases, like osteoporosis and arthritis, and their treatments. Along the way, he highlights the medical innovations—from the first X-rays to advanced operative techniques—that enhance our lives and introduces the giants of orthopedic surgery who developed them.

In the book’s second section, Bone Revealed, he describes how bone influences paleontology, anthropology, religion, art, and popular culture. Examples range from Adam’s rib to Hamlet’s skull, and he uncovers their enduring presence as fossils, technological tools, and musical instruments ranging from the Tibetan thighbone kangling trumpet to everyday drumsticks.

Dr. Meals confirmed that writing his book while preparing his course helped him look at the organization and content of both from different perspectives:

For instance, the two forms differ in length and supplemental images. I found that working on one improved the logic and clarity of the other. The OLLI members’ questions and insights were particularly helpful in those regards. Most importantly, finishing the book became much easier after teaching the OLLI course because I had that audience in mind as I mentally continued our conversation.

I asked Dr. Meals what inspired him to research and write about the second life of bones. He said his inspiration began at an early age while growing up in Shawnee Mission, Kansas:

While on grade school and Cub Scout trips to the nearby Methodist Indian mission, I learned about the culture of the Plains Indians and saw how they repurposed bone for hunting, plant propagation, food preparation, adornment, and entertainment. In recent years, I have thoroughly enjoyed renewing and intensifying my interest in indigenous cultures and understanding their novel and myriad ways of crafting bone.

Remarkable discoveries have turned up not only at anthropology and natural history museums but also in public and private collections including those devoted to musical instruments, medicine, fine art, and the whaling industry. For example, the Channel Islands Maritime Museum has a collection of exquisitely crafted, highly detailed ship models that French prisoners made from soup bones during the Napoleonic Wars. As a result of so many serendipitous finds, I have become a museum fanatic. I try to visit as many as I can wherever I go, and it is rare that I cannot not find something of interest related to bones. I guess that should not surprise me since bone is so durable and ubiquitous. Nonetheless, I’m always excited to add facts to my collection.

Bones: Inside and Out launches October 20, 2020 and is available at these stores:


Mary Ann Wilson, Program Coordinator

Osher Members Try their Hand at Writing a Libretto

For those who are not opera aficionados, an opera’s words are called its libretto. Osher instructor Gordon Williams is not only a writer and speaker on music, but an opera librettist. He wrote the libretto for Journey to Horseshoe Bend, a dramatic-cantata composed by Andrew Schultz and presented at Sydney Opera House by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2003. He also devised new dialogue for the Sydney Symphony’s first performance in 160 years of Don John of Austria, and produced Darwin Theatre Group’s ensemble-piece Dust-Off Vietnam, for which he was also a playwright and actor.

Gordon wanted to facilitate a discussion group that would reveal how librettos help a composer composes. So in the spring of 2020, he taught the course, The Libretto: The Unsung Hero of Opera. His students examined Salvadore Cammarano’s libretto for Lucia di Lammermoor, Piave’s libretto for Rigoletto, as well as Illica and Giacosa’s libretti for La Boheme and Tosca. They also looked at operas derived from preexisting plays, such as Oscar Wilde’s Salomé and Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande, as well as the instructor’s libretto for Journey to Horseshoe Bend, which was derived from a novel.

But the real treat for his students was the opportunity to create their own libretto from current events. One student, Audrey Kopp, wrote text expressing frustration that comes with social distancing and the strange times we’re living in currently. When listening to the piece, you’ll notice that it has a Bach-like sound. According to Mr. Williams, this decision was inspired by a suggestion that a fellow student made that the coronavirus opera use some of Bach’s music.

Gordon’s hope was that “class members would gain an understanding of the libretto of an opera as being much more important than people realize; that they’d see the extent to which it’s an engine. So, I figured that rather than just examining how Piave or Boito worked with Verdi or Hofmannsthal with Strauss, the class could write a libretto.”

We’ve included “No more living in fear” for you to enjoy.


2020 Election Preview Podcast

Bob Stern with guest speaker, Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program, The 2020 Election Preview: From Presidential Candidates to California’s Ballot Measure Elections, led by Robert Stern, JD, former President of the Center for Governmental Studies, explores the impact of the upcoming 2020 election cycle.

With the California primary date moved from June to March—on Super Tuesday, March 3, California now gets a slice of early-state action. The course delves into the fast-approaching 2020 California March primary as well as the November 2020 election choices.

Listen to the six podcasts featuring guests speakers from politics, media, public interest, as they share their insights on the upcoming 2020 election –

Week One: Kathay Feng, Common Cause National Redistricting Director

Week Two: Alex Padilla, CA Secretary of State

Week Three: Rober Naylor, former CA Republican Legislative Leader

Week Four: Conan Nolan, political reporter for over 30 years with NBC4 News

Week Five: Barry Fadem is President of National Popular Vote and a member of the Board of Directors.

Shakari Byerly is a Partner and Principal Researcher at EVITARUS a public opinion research organization

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla speaks to OLLI class

Secretary Alex Padilla and Instructor Bob Stern

Students of Bob Stern’s course, 2020 Election Preview: From Presidential Candidates to California’s Ballot Measure Elections, were treated to a special guest on Thursday, October 3. Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State, spoke about about the new voting system in Los Angeles, election security, registering voters, as well as preparations for the upcoming census. You can hear the talk on our podcast here.

The event was covered by the Daily Bruin. Here’s their article:

Alex Padilla speaks at event about increasing voter participation in 2020 election

By Genesis Qu

The California secretary of state said his office is working on increasing voter participation and enforcing voter security at a university event Thursday.

Alex Padilla spoke at an event for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on Thursday about the upcoming 2020 elections. As secretary of state, Padilla is responsible for organizing and coordinating California elections. He said election security has been put under a particular spotlight after the 2016 election.

“When I was first running for secretary, there were many questions about ‘what are you going to do to get more people to register to vote or to encourage people to vote,’ (and) very few questions were about the election cybersecurity, no questions about potential foreign interference in our elections,” Padilla said. “But then 2016 happened, and now our way of looking at things has fundamentally changed.”

Major concerns were raised in regards to the potential of voter fraud and voter suppression, said Robert Stern, the host of the event and the former president of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies.

A poll from the Public Policy Institute of California divides critics of the electoral process into two main camps, one concerned with voter suppression and one concerned with voter fraud, Stern said.

“Fifty-four percent are very or somewhat concerned that it is too easy for ineligible voters to vote in California elections,” Stern said. “Forty-five percent are very and somewhat concerned that it is too hard for eligible voters to vote.”

However, Padilla said voter fraud has proven to be rare by documentations and research.

“There’s been reports, there’s been studies, there’s been commissions, there’s data out there,” Padilla said. “(Voter fraud) is exceedingly, exceedingly rare.”

Unlike voter fraud, voter suppression has been quantified and demonstrated in various states, Padilla said. Through the false pretext of preventing voter fraud, lawmakers are disenfranchising eligible voters, particularly voters from low-income communities and communities of color.

Carl Singerman, a student at OLLI, said he came to the event because he wanted to understand more about issues surrounding the 2020 election and solutions to some of these challenges.

Singerman said he was most concerned about voter suppression because of its enormous consequences.

“It’s very scary to see how voter suppression is being implemented throughout the nation, and I wanted to hear what things are being done to counter that,” he said.

Padilla also addressed the issues of misinformation on social media and the undermining of election infrastructures.

He said state leaders are working on combating misinformation on social media and have established the “Vote Sure” program where people can report clearly wrong information on social media.

The California legislature also funded a Proactive Public Service Announcement campaign that promotes trusted, reliable sources of political information for voters, Padilla added.

To address the possibility of compromised election infrastructures, California has conducted agency-wide audits and has updated its servers and firewalls on its voting system. California has also led cybersecurity training in every county, Padilla said.

Beverly Sheldon, another student of OLLI, said she is most interested in voter participation in the coming election.

“I’m impressed with some of the changes that they are making to voter accessibility,” Sheldon said. “They are making voting more accessible to the population.”

As secretary of state, Padilla sponsored the California Voters’ Choice Act, which aims to make elections more secure and convenient for voters.

Under the Voters’ Choice Act, voters will automatically receive their ballot in the mail one month prior to election day, Padilla said. Voters will have options to either mail the ballot back or to drop it off at ballot boxes across the county at any given time in the weeks prior to the election.

New polling stations will have the entire county’s voter information instead of just the neighborhood, which means that voters will have access to every polling station in the county and are able to vote in the weeks leading up to the election, Padilla said.

“I think what Los Angeles county is trying to do is not just to ensure that we have as secure a voting system as possible but as user-friendly a voting system as possible,” Padilla said