Keynote Speaker for the 2017 Osher Institutes National Conference
We’re happy to announce that the Keynote Speaker for the 2017 Osher Institutes National Conference is Dr. Bill Thomas. Dr. Thomas is a noted leader in the field of Aging. He has been named one of the nation’s “top 10 innovators” changing the future of retirement in America by the Wall Street Journal, as well as being named to the public media project, Next Avenue’s “2015 Influencers in Aging” list, alongside Mr. Bernard Osher. “Everything we know about aging is wrong,” Thomas says. “With the accepted narrative of aging (as) one of decline, disease, and disability, it’s difficult to look upon advancing years in a positive light.”
After early career work in a nursing home, Thomas was led to defy the status quo about how the elderly are treated. Through activism, writing multiple books, and the founding of a website, ChangingAging.org, Dr. Thomas has created a platform for innovators in aging to share their ideas as he continues to confront negative stereotypes in hopes of changing that aging narrative. Dr. Thomas spent the past two years visiting cities around the country with a theater production called the Age of Disruption Tour. “One study after another has proven that how we perceive aging, to a very large degree, determines how we age,” Thomas says. “It’s the story that matters, how people interpret their experience goes a long way to determining their wellbeing. So I decided to go out into the world and start changing the story of aging.”
Dr. Thomas brings this changing story to Irving, Texas, at the 2017 Osher Institutes National Conference. That story includes recognizing and appreciating the importance of community outreach in the areas of higher education and local affinity groups—the confluence of Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. His unique perspective is certain to challenge, guide, and inspire OLLI staff and volunteer leaders in their lifelong learning work at Institutes throughout the country.