Jo Ann Jenkins is the CEO of AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), a large organization representing older Americans which advocates for left-of-center policy. Before taking office in 2014, she was AARP’s chief operating officer.
Political and Government Work
Jenkins’ early political activities included interning for former U.S. Rep. Jack Edwards (R-Alabama), and Jenkins later got a job on the 1980 Presidential campaign of Republican candidate Ronald Reagan.
After Reagan’s victory in the 1980 presidential race, Jenkins entered the federal government as an executive assistant at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1981. After 4 years at HUD, she left and joined the Department of Transportation where she became a special assistant for minority affairs.
While at the Department of Transportation, she developed a special relationship with the then- Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole. Together, the two women developed a first of its kind 10-point program to promote women in the department. Jenkins left the department in 1987.
Jenkins then briefly went into the private sector working at Quality Management Services as a partner. She reentered government in 1990 joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the director of the Office of Advocacy and Enterprise. She would leave the USDA after the election of Bill Clinton as president.
In 1994, she was appointed as chief of staff at the Library of Congress. In 2007, she was appointed as chief operating officer.
In 2010, Jenkins left the Library of Congress to become chief operating officer and executive vice president of the AARP Foundation. In 2013, she became chief operating officer of the organization. In 2014, she was named chief executive officer of the AARP.
Jenkins and the AARP also came out against the 2017 tax reform bill. Jenkins criticized the bill for making individual tax cuts temporary, limiting the deduction for state and local taxes, indexing the tax brackets to inflation, and potentially increasing health insurance premiums. She also expressed concerns about cuts to Social Security and Medicare as a result of increasing the deficit.