Len Fishman, a nationally recognized leader in the field of aging policy, has been appointed as the new director of the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston’s John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies.
The Gerontology Institute helps set the national agenda on aging with research and policy analysis across a variety of issues, including economic security for seniors, retirement and pensions, healthy aging, racial and ethnic disparities, risks for elderly drivers, and volunteerism among elders. Most recently, the Institute collaborated on a new “Aging in Boston” report with Mayor Marty Walsh and the City of Boston’s Commission on the Affairs of the Elderly.
“We are on the cusp of the greatest demographic transformation in history: The human lifespan has increased by a third, and soon, one in five Americans will be 65 or older,” Fishman said. “We are nowhere near ready to meet the challenges or take advantage of the opportunities presented by these changes.”
Fishman comes to UMass Boston with decades of experience on aging issues and health care. For 13 years he served as CEO of Hebrew SeniorLife, New England’s largest nonprofit provider of senior housing and health care. Under Fishman’s leadership, the 110-year-old organization experienced tremendous growth, expanding to nine locations in Greater Boston and nearly quadrupling its senior constituents to 6,000, adding 1,200 employees, doubling its research and academic teaching programs, and establishing an affiliation with Harvard Medical School. Fishman led a $100 million capital campaign for Hebrew SeniorLife and oversaw the creation of a multigenerational campus, NewBridge on the Charles, in Dedham.
Prior to joining Hebrew SeniorLife, Fishman was president and CEO of LeadingAge, a coalition of senior-focused nonprofits in Washington, D.C. At LeadingEdge, Fishman helped create a research and policy institute focused on improving quality of care, elevating the working lives of frontline caregivers, and combining affordable senior housing and health care in innovative and cost-effective ways.
He was also commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health under Governor Christine Todd Whitman, and a health-care lawyer in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“Len brings enormous experience, intellectual and academic strengths, institution-building skills, and the right values to our Gerontology Institute,” said Ira A. Jackson, dean of the McCormack School. “We are confident that he will guide the institute in its continued development as an innovative thought leader, providing cutting-edge research, policy, and service focused on aging issues in the 21st century.”
Fishman will work with the institute as a consultant before taking over as director in September. He will succeed current Director Ellen Bruce, who has led the institute for the past 25 years.
About the Gerontology Institute
The Gerontology Institute is a think tank based at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Gerontology Department—one of the nation’s oldest and most influential programs in aging. One in four gerontology PhD holders in America earned his or her degree from UMass Boston’s Gerontology Department. The Gerontology Institute is home to the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging, which works with municipalities to understand the needs of their senior residents, and the Pension Action Center, which helps retirees and their families in seven states recover their earned benefits.
About UMass Boston
Recognized for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve more than 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.