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Meet Akila Gibbs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Akila Gibbs.

Akila Gibbs is a seasoned professional who has devoted herself to the issues associated with our aging population. Before diving headfirst into the non-profit sector, Akila worked in television news for 16 years and was an award-winning journalist. As director of public relations for the Alzheimer’s Association, she raised public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease in Southern California and was instrumental in garnering funds to support Alzheimer’s research.

In November 2011, Akila presented at the Statewide Senior Center Forum sponsored by the California Commission on Aging and the Congress of California Seniors. She was the 2011-2013 Chair of the Pasadena Executive Roundtable, a consortium of local nonprofit executive directors. Akila joined the City of Pasadena’s Senior Commission in 2014, where she currently serves as its vice president to gauge and address the needs of our ever-changing population of aging adults. That same year, she participated in Senator Carol Liu’s 2014 Pathways Statewide Bus Tour: Innovations in Aging and LTSS, the mission of which was to develop a comprehensive strategy to create an effective and efficient Aging and Long-Term Care system for our state. The Pasadena Senior Center was one of five California sites chosen as a model for best practices in senior care services, and as the leader of the one community in the San Gabriel Valley resource that provides the most services to seniors, she was asked to tour with the group and share her perspective.

Most recently, Akila was presented with the Junior League of Pasadena’s 2016 Community Impact Award. Since joining the Pasadena Senior Center in 2008, Akila continues to lead the organization with passion and spirit and is fully committed to meet the growing needs of seniors in the years ahead. In addition to her responsibilities at the Center and as a Pasadena Senior Commission member, she is an active member of the Pasadena Rotary, sits on the Board of the Huntington Hospital, serves as Trustee for Westridge School for Girls, and sits on Villa Esperanza’s Community Council for Excellence.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
As a nonprofit, the struggle is to raise funds for programs and services to a population that is underserved and whose needs are growing. The number of people over 50 are growing every day. While 76% of our membership is connected the challenge remains to reach the others in need who are not online. For the first time ever, we are looking at five generations at once. The Pasadena Senior Center is focused on three generations – older adults and their caregivers, families that need programs delivered differently. We have a beautiful space; however, we have an ongoing need for more space as more and more adults take advantage of our services.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As the Executive Director for the Pasadena Senior Center, I lead the charge to engage, enrich and empower the lives of older adults. I educate the public on the number of seniors who are aging and the services that will be needed in the future. I specialize in looking for innovative ways to create new programs for older adults, to communicate the needs of older adults, and build relationships on their behalf. In the 13 years I have served the Center, I am most proud of the fact that we serve more seniors than any other organization in the area and that our efforts help older adults live a life with dignity and purpose. What sets me apart is I have a front-row seat to view the results of our work and how lives have been changed as we work to help others age well.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Probably spending time with my great-grandmother. I sincerely have fond memories of that. Dressing up for Easter and going out to eat pancakes after church made it the holiday that all of us did together. We worshiped together, we dressed up together, it was the holiday that we celebrated together.

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