Incoming Friendship Centers’ President and CEO Erin McLeod shares her vision of the future of the Friendship Centers.

“The future of Friendship is built on the shoulders of icons: Brother William Geenen, Brother Charles Krupp, Molleen Pust and now, Bob Carter – leaders with vision, drive and dedication to the Mission. As I prepare to enter my new role, I am reminded that I will be only the second President & CEO in a 42-year history as our founders selected Bob as the first in 1988.

“This call to service is a call to action.

“The Friendship Centers enters the next generation poised to meet the challenges of the longevity revolution Bob mentioned, and as an organization with local impact and national (even international) influence, we will continue to seek out innovation, creative approaches, and new collaborations.

“So what will change? Technology will play a greater role in the way we deliver programs, provide education, conduct fundraising, track and manage data. Technology will help us explore and research emerging issues as well as best practices to address challenges.

” We are at the epicenter of aging, here in southwest Florida. We are the dress rehearsal for the world when it comes to how we are dealing with this unique demographic phenomenon, both socially and economically.  The same old-same old just won’t cut it with the next wave of older adults. Sheer numbers alone will force us to look at the issue from every angle, to review and revise policy, to diversify our resources – both human power and financial.

“Beyond the obvious, needs are also shifting with those who have not prepared very well for retirement or professionals who don’t have sufficient training for working with an increasingly geriatric population. Bringing the latest information and educational opportunities to these audiences will be done through collaboration with experts and community partners.

“There will be a renewed focus on volunteerism, attracting the best and brightest with the time, energy and talent to pro-pel the strength of People Helping People forward, filling the gaps and participating in the creation of new models that will define the Friendship Centers and our region long after our time.

“I’m humbled to follow the footsteps of Bob Carter and our founders before him. It’s my privilege to lead a passionate and committed team of very smart people into the next generation of Friendship. To paraphrase Mother Theresa, “…together we will do great things.”

– Erin McLeod