AARP exec to address diversity and aging during two-day visit

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of Edna Kane-Williams.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A senior-level AARP executive will address the intersection of diversity, aging and health care when she delivers the Burian University-Community Lecture and the keynote presentation for the Diversity and Inclusion Conference at Western Michigan University.

Edna Kane-Williams, AARP senior vice president for multicultural leadership, will give the Burian lecture at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in 4010 Health and Human Services Building. Free and open to the public, her presentation is titled "Building Bridges for Older Adults in Multicultural Communities."

The next day, Kane-Williams will be the keynote speaker at the Diversity and Inclusion Conference, where she will speak at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24, also in 4010 Health and Human Services Building. That presentation is titled "Reimagining Possibilities for Older Adults in Multicultural Communities." The day-long conference also includes faculty-led workshops and poster presentations aimed at students, practitioners and the community on topics ranging from aging and immigration to post-traumatic stress disorder and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

In conjunction with those events, the University-Community Empowerment Center at WMU is partnering with AARP Michigan to stage a series of additional discussions in the greater Kalamazoo-Grand Rapids area around topics that impact older adults.

Laying the groundwork

"We believe Edna's lectures can lay the groundwork for these upcoming discussions," says Teresa Bingman, a WMU faculty specialist in the School of Interdisciplinary Health Programs, who is helping to organize the upcoming activities. "We will be discussing such issues as positive aging, financial security, suitable housing, mental and physical health, and caretaking, especially for older adults caring for grandchildren and children."

Bingman says experts will make presentations and engage participants through storytelling to provide enrichment and options for future change.

The community discussions will help older adults adjust to challenges they face as they age, says Paula D. Cunningham, state director, AARP Michigan.

"We look forward to our collaboration with WMU and AARP Michigan to share information and resources that will help older adults live their best lives," Cunningham says.


Kane-Williams has more than 20 years of experience in senior management positions in nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Her career has had a particular focus on the needs of older adults and multicultural communities. She serves as vice president, Multicultural Markets and Engagement, at AARP, focusing primarily on outreach to the African-American community.

Kane-Williams received her bachelor's degree from Yale University and master's degree from George Washington University. She was a fellow in the Coro Foundation's Public Affairs Program and also the American Society of Association Executive's Diversity Executive Leadership Program.

Kane-Williams focuses on building meaningful and sustainable programs. She has served in senior executive positions at organizations including the Epilepsy Foundation, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and East Baltimore Development. Most recently, she served as senior vice president of communications and social marketing at IQ Solutions Inc. and as director of Abilities Network Inc.

She also serves on the board of AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Abilities Network and Family and Child Services of D.C. and is director of integration at the AARP Foundation.

As senior vice president for multicultural leadership at AARP, she leads the development and execution of AARP's multicultural strategy to increase the organization's social impact and relevance among multicultural audiences.

Burian University-Community Lecture

Established in memory of the founding dean of the WMU College of Health and Human Services, the Bill Burian University-Community Lecture brings members of the community and University together to interact with leaders in the field, focusing on the qualities of health and human services that were the essence of Burian's mission.

For more information, including the conference schedule, visit and

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit