People are living longer, and working longer, too. In New York City’s 700,000 workers are over 55 —18% of the workforce. Many will work well past traditional retirement age.  Employers need guidance on how to create a workplace that encourages different generations to work productively and profitably side-by-side.

The Age Smart Employer Awards – an initiative of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center and The New York Academy of Medicine, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation – aims to address this need by researching and identifying best practices, honoring employers who value workers of all ages, and supporting businesses looking to maximize the potential of their workers as they age.

Age smart employers recognize the value of older workers. By embracing their multigenerational workplace as an opportunity, these visionaries use innovation, flexibility and creative talent management to stay ahead. They also realize that hiring, retaining and using older workers strategically can solve a variety of pressing problems business owners face.

Age smart strategies directly support and utilize the talents of older workers, but these strategies benefit all workers. Age smart strategies have helped employers lower costs, boost productivity, spark new business, and better align their products and services with New York City’s booming older adult consumer market.
Some businesses don’t realize they’re age smart. Age-smart practices include:

Flex hours and telecommuting; phased retirement; encouraging mentor/mentee relationships; wellness programs; recruiting older workers; cross-training all workers; allowing employees to swap shifts; creating new paths of advancement within a business; enlisting older workers to strategically retain and transfer a business’s networks and knowledge across generations; rewarding employees who model work ethic and emotional intelligence for others and ensuring that training and development opportunities are offered to workers of all ages.

Age Smart is looking for applicants for its second awards cycle. The next round of awards will be given out in Fall 2015. Applications will be available in Spring 2015. Age Smart will post more information on how to apply in the coming months.

For Media

For media inquiries please contact:
Geoffrey Knox
(212) 229-0540 ext 201 | 917-414-1749

Age Smart Employer Team

 Ruth Finkelsteinruth
Ruth Finkelstein, ScD has thirty years of experience in health policy, planning and research on promoting health for vulnerable populations. She is the Associate Director of the Columbia Aging Center where she directs the activities of the International Longevity Center. Dr Finkelstein was most recently the Senior Vice President for Policy and Planning at The New York Academy of Medicine, where she directed the Age-friendly New York City initiative (a joint project with the Mayor’s Office and the City Council), which won the 2013 award for “The Best Existing Age Friendly Initiative in the World” from the International Federation on Ageing as well as the Archstone Award for Excellence in Program Innovation from the American Public Health Association. In 2012, Dr. Finkelstein was named one of the nation’s “Game Changers” by Metropolis Magazine for her leadership on the Age-friendly NYC initiative. She has provided technical assistance to cities in the U. S. and around the world on planning, implementation, and evaluation of systems-level aging initiatives. Dr. Finkelstein holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in anthropology from Case Western Reserve University, and a doctorate in health policy from Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. She has published in numerous journals, including JAIDS, the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Urban Health.
dorianDorian Block
Dorian Block is a Senior Staff Associate at the Columbia Aging Center. Over the past decade, she has both been an award-winning journalist and a thought leader on designing communities that value older people. Dorian began her career as a reporter at The New York Daily News, The Boston Globe and other publications, writing more than 1,000 articles. She left journalism to manage the Age-friendly NYC initiative at The New York Academy of Medicine, compelled by its innovative approach to aging. Under Dorian’s management, Age-friendly NYC implemented thousands of improvements to New York City streets, parks, businesses, cultural organizations and neighborhoods and was named “Best Age-friendly Initiative” in the world. In this role, Dorian advised hundreds of governments, non-profits and businesses interested in implementing similar initiatives. At the Columbia Aging Center, Dorian is working on several projects which allow her to bring those two career paths together, including the Age Smart Employer Awards. Dorian has an M.S. from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. from Brandeis University in American Studies.


shauneequaShauneequa Owusu
Shauneequa Owusu is the Manager for Age-friendly Commerce at the New York Academy of Medicine. In this capacity she oversees initiatives that address older adults as consumers, workers and entrepreneurs. Such initiatives include the Age Friendly Local Business Initiative and the Age Smart Employer Awards. Most recently, Shauneequa worked in community economic development focusing on workforce development, work and family supports and services for small businesses. Previously she worked for the New York City Council on aging, higher education and labor policy. Shauneequa holds a M.S. in Urban Affairs from the City University of New York-Hunter College and B.A. in International Relations from Roanoke College.
danaDana Martens
Dana R. Martens is a Policy Associate at The New York Academy of Medicine. She has extensive experience in economic and community development with expertise in small businesses and entrepreneurship. At The New York Academy of Medicine she supports initiatives at the intersection of aging and business. Project responsibilities include leading the Age Friendly Local Business Initiative and coordinating the Age Smart Employer Awards. Previously she led business development efforts through the NYC Department of Small Business Services, where she provided technical assistance services to entrepreneurs, and developed citywide programs and initiatives to improve supports for small business owners, as well as facilitated job creation efforts. Dana has also taught courses in website design, social media marketing, and e-commerce to entrepreneurs. Ms. Martens holds a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in Economics from Smith College.

Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center

Bringing together the resources of a top-tier research university, the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center (CAC) incorporates a range of disciplines including the medical sciences, humanities, social sciences and professions like urban planning, architecture and journalism, to study and better understand the aging process and its societal implications. It is the mission of the CAC to generate the knowledge necessary to inspire meaningful change on a social policy level, community level, and individual level. The CAC views the work context as a major field for research and application and the Age Smart Employer Awards is a signature initiative. The CAC is a University-wide center based at the Mailman school of Public Health.
The New York Academy of Medicine
An independent organization since 1847, the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) addresses the health challenges facing the world’s urban populations through interdisciplinary approaches to policy leadership, innovative research, evaluation, education and community engagement. Drawing on the expertise of diverse partners worldwide and more than 2,000 elected Fellows from across the professions, our current priorities are to create environments in cities that support healthy aging; to strengthen systems that prevent disease and promote the public’s health; and to eliminate health disparities. NYAM is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Collaborating Center on Aging, Globalization and Urbanization.



The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation makes grants primarily to support original research and broad-based education related to science, technology, economic performance and the quality of American life. The Foundation is unique in its focus on science, technology and economic institutions—and the scholars and practitioners who work in these fields—as chief drivers of the nation’s health and prosperity. The Foundation has a deep-rooted belief that carefully reasoned systematic understanding of the forces of nature and society, when applied inventively and wisely, can lead to a better world for all. The Foundation’s endowment provides the financial resources to support its activities. The investment strategy for the endowment is to invest prudently in a diversified portfolio of assets with the goal of achieving superior returns.
age_friendly_logo_66_NEWAge-friendly NYC
Age-friendly NYC is a public-private partnership between NYAM, the NYC Office of the Mayor and the New York City Council dedicated to making New York City a great place to grow old by promoting active engagement of older adults in all aspects of city life. Age-friendly NYC’s contributions to the lives of older New Yorkers have attracted widespread attention locally, nationally and internationally and it has become a model for similar efforts in other cities. Age-friendly NYC was the first city to be recognized by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Network of Age Friendly cities, a network of more than 100 cities around the world. The Age Smart Employer Awards addresses older adults as workers.

Research Advisory Panel

The research advisory panel, chaired by James Parrott, contributed to and guided the development of the Age Smart Employer Compendium of Strategies and Practices. This panel included experts from a variety of disciplines including economics, business and aging, each bringing a unique viewpoint to the topic of the multigenerational workforce.