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Celebrating 30 years of GIA history in 2012

Grantmakers In Aging (GIA), the nation’s leading membership organization of funders serving the aging, with the mission to promote and strengthen grantmaking for an aging society, has a proud history. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012, GIA began in 1982, when Trudy Cross, a consultant on aging for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, organized the first informal meeting of foundation staff interested in aging issues to exchange knowledge and program ideas. Following a meeting focused on healthcare and older adults at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the group created a network of foundations interested in aging issues, officially naming itself Grantmakers In Aging, and publishing the group's first newsletter in January 1983. An early major achievement, in 1985, was a collaborative project with the Administration on Aging (AoA) for an intergenerational initiative.

In 1998, GIA officially incorporated as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and hired Barbara Greenberg as part-time consultant and interim Executive Director. GIA published A Toolkit: Funding Across the Ages, developed a directory of GIA funders in aging, worked on member relations, held regional meetings of grantmakers to build interest in the field, and expanded its Annual Meeting. This work was so successful that by 1999, Greenberg and the Board decided that a full-time professional staff was necessary. After a nationwide search, the Board chose Carol Farquhar to be GIA's first full-time executive director. Farquhar moved quickly to build on the gathering momentum, establishing offices in Dayton, OH, and hiring additional staff. GIA has become the “go-to information resource” in aging for funders and for others in the field.

Over the past decade, GIA has had impressive growth, initiating critical projects such as the Hurricane Fund to assist the elderly in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, and EngAGEment, a major initiative to work with regional funding groups to increase support for local projects in aging. 

Looking ahead

GIA is now entering a new and exciting phase of its work – GIA 2.0.  With new staff leadership and a new strategic business plan, GIA is focused on the future in which one in five Americans will be over the age of 65. The audacious goal of GIA 2.0 is to seek a dramatic increase in the percentage of philanthropy going to aging by the year 2019.

Past GIA board chairs

Grantmakers In Aging has been fortunate to have a series of noted philanthropic leaders chair its board. Former GIA board chairs (listed with the name of the institution they were affiliated with at the time) include:

Christopher A. Langston, PhD, The John A. Hartford Foundation
Mary Ellen Kullman, MPH, Archstone Foundation
Robin B. Mayrl, MSSW, Helen Bader Foundation, Inc.
Jane Isaacs Lowe, PhD, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Joseph F. Prevratil, JD, Archstone Foundation
John Feather, PhD, AARP Andrus Foundation
Brian Hofland, PhD, The Retirement Research Foundation

Past GIA fellows

The GIA Fellows Program, initiated in 1999, provides outstanding graduate and post-doctoral students an opportunity to attend the conference to learn firsthand about challenges and opportunities in our aging society. Nominated and selected from a wide range of aging-related disciplines, the GIA Fellows are an important scholarly addition to the conference and an investment in the future. During the conference, the GIA Fellows report on aging research within their respective fields of study. Click here to see a list of past GIA Fellows.