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Baby Boomers Use Retirement To Solve Social Issues

When Baby Boomer, Tom Santel, retired as CEO from Anheuser-Busch Companies, he knew he wanted to help the poor in St. Louis, but he wasn’t quite sure how.

“I eventually decided to work with early childhood because so much of human development occurs in pregnancy and early years of life,” Santel said.

Santel headed to Harvard University where he joined the Advanced Leadership Initiative, a fellowship program that lets retired Baby Boomers use their skills to solve some of the social problems facing Americans today.

Each Advanced Leadership Initiative fellow focuses on a different topic—women’s rights, access to healthy food and food waste, environmental degradation and any other issues they feel passionate about.

Santel’s project focused on making home visits to vulnerable, low-income pregnant women and staying with them through the child’s third-grade year. During that time, parents would be supported and helped to find resources they need for their children to thrive.

Started in 2009, the idea behind the Advanced Leadership Initiative was to change the way Baby Boomers thought about retirement. Instead of spending their days relaxing on a front porch, several Harvard faculty members had the idea to use the skills these people had learned in 30 or 40 years of business to create a strong societal impact in their given locations.

For example, another entrepreneur, Ken Kelley, is working on a vaccine for the Ebola virus while Mary Louise Cohen, a former attorney, is working on helping the Syrian refugees.

You can watch videos of the former fellows online here.

Do you know of a local Baby Boomer who is using their retirement to give back to the community? Submit their story here. 

About the author

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Jessie Harbin

Jessie is a newlywed living in Meridianville with her husband and three dogs. She's learning to sail on their 26-foot sailboat in Guntersville. At the time of publication, nobody has fallen ill because of her cooking.

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