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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Guiding Principles

As a leader in the field of aging, the American Society on Aging (ASA) is committed to driving discourse, education and advocacy for change as it relates to inclusivity, anti-ageism and equity for older adults.  We reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including those based on age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation. We unite, empower and champion our community to address social injustices, embrace anti-racism and eradicate systemic discrimination. 

Consistent with the ASA Strategic Plan, the ASA Board of Directors has established the DEI Upstanders, which is a standing board committee ensuring that ASA promotes equity, combats racism and other systemic inequalities, and fosters inclusion in all of its advocacy work, programming and in the employee lifecycle at ASA.

Key Definitions

Diversity: The full range of visible and invisible differences that define each of us as human beings. 

Equity: Fair treatment, opportunity and advancement for all people, while striving to identify and eliminate barriers to such treatment, opportunity and advancement.

Inclusion: Systems, structures and processes that promote a sense of belonging, connection and community where all people feel known, welcomed and valued. 


Guiding Principles


ASA believes in and strives for: 

  • Equity for all older adults and those who work in the field of aging 
    • DEI work is a source of strength, resilience and hope for transforming aging and longevity. 
    • All older adults and those working in the aging sector deserve to be treated with respect and to have equal access to programs and services that lead to optimal quality of life.
  • Membership and staff empowerment 
    • Supporting diverse leaders who work in the aging sector will enrich the field. 
    • Supporting ongoing learning for ASA’s Board, members and staff will promote their DEI competency. 
    • Engaging people of all ages through our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion are essential. 
  • Advocacy for equitable policies and legislation
    • ASA has a voice in the development and implementation of public policies that address systemic barriers and inequities facing older adults and those working in the field of aging. 
  • Accountability
    • ASA will evaluate its efforts and hold itself accountable through attainable, actionable, relevant and specific DEI goals.
    • ASA seeks mutual accountability among its leadership, members, volunteers and staff to ensure adherence with its DEI Guiding Principles.
  • Resource availability 
    • ASA resources must be allocated appropriately to support the attainment of its DEI goals. 
    • ASA seeks to leverage key relationships to support its ability to achieve its DEI goals. 

DEI Upstanders

Consistent with the ASA Strategic Plan to strengthen its DEI efforts, the DEI Upstanders is a standing board committee, which is co-chaired by a member of the Board of Directors and another ASA member. The charge of the Upstanders is to ensure that ASA promotes equity, combats racism and other systemic inequalities, and fosters inclusion in all of its advocacy work, programming and in the employee lifecycle at ASA.  Additionally, the Upstanders will leverage the insights, knowledge, talent, relationships and experience of its members and advisors to help position ASA as the go-to resource and leading repository of expertise with regard to diversity, inclusion, and equity in the field of aging.

The DEI Upstanders is co-chaired by a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors and one non-board member.  

We are not currently accepting applications for the DEI Upstanders.


Meet our co-Chairs:


Velma Carter-Dryer

Velma Carter-Dryer is the Liver Transplant Social Worker at Penn State Health, and a licensed social worker with more than 40 years’ experience in the fields of mental health, aging, healthcare and advocacy. Throughout her career, Velma has continued to integrate her clinical and management skills and understanding of organizational dynamics with her growing knowledge of issues related to ethics, diversity, equity, leadership, advocacy and process improvement. 



Najja Orr

Najja Orr, MBA, assumed the role of president and CEO of Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) during an unprecedented time in PCA’s history as services had to quickly adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his direction, services are continuing to meet the ever-evolving needs of Philadelphia’s older adults. This includes delivering more than 1.9 million meals to older Philadelphians through home-delivered and community-based meal programs in the last 11 months. Orr in 2017 joined PCA as its Chief Strategy Officer, leading the agency’s planning department. Prior to coming to PCA, Orr worked for the Bucks County Area Agency on Aging starting in 2002, serving as the agency’s director from 2011 to 2017. Orr has served on several boards during his tenure in the aging field and held a number of positions. Currently he sits on ASA’s Board, and has chaired the Pennsylvania Department of Aging Cultural Diversity Advisory Council, PCA Care Connections and the Bucks County Commissioners Senior Task Force; as well as having been president of the Bucks County Foundation on Aging and Innovations Home Care.


Learn about ASA’s Newest
DEI Initiative

ASA RISE is a launching pad for the next generation of aging leadership. Our vision for ASA RISE is that it will lead to improved well-being across an increasingly diverse aging population by creating a BIPOC leadership pool that improves policies and programs at the local, state and national levels.

Learn More