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Leslie Foren, elder in training

The new executive director of Elders in Action sees exciting times ahead for this senior advocacy group


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Leslie ForenLeslie Foren describes herself as "an elder in training," through she's only in her mid-30s, Foren grew up in Michigan in a three-generation household, where her grandparents helped raise her. "My grandparents had a real active role in my life, and I think that's where my interest came from in working with older adults," she says.

Foren earned a bachelor's degree in long-term care administration at Madonna University outside Detroit, Mich. She moved west and in 2001 got a job as a program specialist with Elders in Action, the Portland-based advocacy organization for older adults. In 2005 she became the nonprofit agency's director of operations, and this June she took over as executive director, succeeding Vicki Hersen, who retired.

In her new job, Foren will lead Elders in Action as the 44-year-old agency continues its mission of serving the 60-and-older population in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties in such areas as housing, healthcare, and fraud and abuse prevention.

Foren says Elders in Action has been engaging and enriching lives of older adults since 1968, when it began as part of a government agency, the Portland/Multnomah Commission on Aging. Elders in Action became a private nonprofit agency in 1997.

"Our focus is on advocacy for adults – consumer protection, helping them navigate systems and engaging volunteers," she says.

"It's a really exciting time, it's a very busy time," she says. "Elders in Action is so unique in the work we do. With the 'silver tsunami' age wave coming, there's an opportunity to expand our work and engage the bigger picture with regard to age awareness."

Portland's reputation as an age-friendly community has led Elders in Action to work with the Portland Institute on Aging and the Hillsdale Main Street Program on promoting age-friendly practices, among other projects.

"Portland is a great city that embraces innovative initiatives, and we're in the forefront of doing that," Foren says.

Elders in Action has about 155 active volunteers, 81 percent of whom are 50 or older, she says. Many volunteers do "macro advocacy," working with city and county governments to advise them on issues pertaining to older adults.

Other volunteers work with businesses to make sure they are age friendly. Some consult one on one with seniors headed for court because they have fallen victim to a con artist or an abusive relative. Elders in Action also runs a speakers bureau manned by volunteers.

As of April, the agency has helped 1,673 seniors so far this year, Foren says. "Our goal is 2,000 a year."

Contact Elders in Action

By phone: 503-235-5474

By email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Online: www.eldersinaction.org