J. Gwen Kennedy, Ph.D.
Organization Development, Leadership Development and Change Management Consultant and Facilitator
Deeta Lonergan, M.Ed.
Career Counselor, Strategic Coach,
Trainer and Facilitator.
How we came to be
I, Gwen, recently turned 60 and approached Deeta, a long-time colleague, to facilitate a weekend retreat for myself and 11 friends who were recently retired, nearing retirement or who’s spouses were nearing retirement. I wanted time to reflect. And I wanted to support my friends in this milestone transition.
As an independent consultant for the past 30 years, I don’t see myself as every fully “retiring”. I am still passionate about my work. I have the luxury of being able to scale back and say no to client work. And I can refocus my practice to meet my changing personal goals.
But so many of my friends in my age group work regular jobs and often 50-60 hours work weeks. They were ready to end the corporate or executive career track but needed to figure out what's next. The want to stay engaged in a career but to work differently. They want to give back - to do something meaningful. They also want time to play and travel. And many of us have aging parents so that factors in too. So what’s next?
When Deeta and I began to plan the retreat, it become clear that we would be co-facilitating.
Doing the research
With help from my intern, Heather Karwowski, we researched what is happening with the baby boomers, changes in the workplace and demographics in Alaska. We found some astounding statistics.
We found Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot, sociologist and developmental psychologist. We found Marc Freedman, visionary leader and founder of Encore. And of course we found AARP’s Life Reimagined resources.
Jane Pauley’s NBC program and the Encore website provided inspirational video stories of what others are doing in the next third of their lives.
We wanted to share our findings. So we put together a PowerPoint presentation and shared it with the public. And we continue to update and share it to anyone who is interested.
Gwen & Deeta’s What’s Next
The results of these efforts were: 1) public presentation and 2) a weekend retreat. The retreat was powerful and a lot of fun. We wanted more time.
So Deeta and I reflected on their “what’s next” and decided to incorporate the What's Next retreat into our "what's next". We also designed a weeklong retreat to hold in someplace exotic and a 5-month program so that we could focus on supporting each other as we explored our next third.