At the end of the year, the President of Gray Panthers NYC, Jack Kupferman, will hand over the reins to our current Vice President, Michelle Arnot.
Before he ends his time as President of Gray Panthers NYC though, we think it is important that we, the Gray Panthers NYC Board, honor him for his achievements.
From an advocacy standpoint, perhaps his biggest accomplishment was that he helped ensure the relevance of Gray Panthers NYC at the local, national, and global stages—things that were by no means a guarantee given our limited resources, as well as the fact that Gray Panthers has most often been associated with the movement Maggie Kuhn led in the 1970s and 1980s.
For example, his role in spearheading our Nursing Homes Lives Lost documentary, which has helped ensure our relevance on the issue of nursing homes, if it weren’t already ensured by the fact that several years prior, he was instrumental in Gray Panthers NYC helping to trigger a nursing home audit from the New York State Comptroller in 2016.
At the global level, he has helped Gray Panthers become an instrumental voice in advocating for more robust frameworks ensuring that the rights of older persons are a priority for the United Nations. These are among the reasons that his alma mater, Colgate University, selected Jack for its 2020 Colgate Humanitarian Award.
It is perhaps no coincidence that he has helped ensure the relevance of our organization. It’s no coincidence because he has shown a gift that is needed in order to advance a cause: the gift of being able to connect with a wide variety of people with a wide variety of backgrounds. It’s a gift that has allowed our organization to be a facilitator on numerous issues over the years.
Speaking of being able to connect with a wide variety of people, one group that he connected particularly well with is younger generations. Gray Panthers NYC has always been intergenerational in nature, but the internship program, which he started, ensured that younger persons were also engaged in the work of looking to address ageism wherever they see it.
The person who helps run this blog, Brendan Birth, is a product of said internship program! Numerous other alumni of the intern program have also gone on to play other roles in addressing ageism, and in advocacy more broadly. This is a program that ensures the relevance of ageism as a human rights issue among all generations, and the program is thanks to Jack.
On a lighter note, he has blessed his fellow Board members with a wicked sense of humor. From the time he surprised all of his guests with a stuffed giraffe at a New Year’s Day party he hosted, to his quick-witted one-liners getting everyone else in the room to laugh uproariously, he shows that while he takes the work of advocating for older persons seriously, he also has an extremely humorous side.
The Board of Gray Panthers NYC is grateful for Jack’s service as President. But he won’t be going far—just because he’s no longer President doesn’t mean that he will disappear from us! Not by a longshot. He will take on the new role of Chief Catalyst Officer. We are grateful for that, too. And we can’t wait to see what he does next!