Googled: Jennie Chin Hansen ’70

Published: May 2007

Jennie Chin Hansen, the president-elect of AARP, has devoted her career to nursing and the care of elders. She traces her commitment to the “special trust and comfort” she had with her grandfather, who served as her “surrogate parent” during the long hours her parents worked at their New Jersey restaurant. After graduating from Boston College, she moved to the West Coast, where she earned a Master of Science degree in nursing at the University of California.

In 1980 she took a job as a research assistant at a small storefront organization, called On Lok, which provided daytime services to seniors in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Three years later she was the group’s director. “Jennie transformed On Lok into a non-profit family of organizations,” said Representative (now Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi in a 2004 speech on the House floor. “On Lok now provides a spectrum of services including comprehensive medical care, prescription drug assistance, bilingual case management, home-cooked meals, and opportunities to socialize. 20,000 seniors have benefited from their programs.” At On Lok, Hansen pioneered an approach called “Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly,” which became a national prototype. Since 1997, when federal legislation made it eligible for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement, 30 states have replicated the program.

After leaving On Lok in 2004, Hansen accepted positions on the governing boards of several nonprofit organizations providing services to the elderly. She taught at San Francisco State University and also ran a nurse-manager training program at the University of California. In 2008 she will become the first nurse, and the first Asian American, to lead AARP.

This feature was posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2007 and is filed under Research.
Writer: Dan Soyer