All Together Now: Advocating For Older Adults Through Collective Impact

By Hernán Rozemberg and Cecilia Martinez

Jane Paccione
Jane Paccione

SAN ANTONIO — It doesn’t take long for anyone to realize that Jane Paccione is a bona fide force of nature.

Her experience, knowledge and passion are just that palpable.

Not only that, she also has just about the coolest job title one may have ever come across. Jane is the Area Foundation’s Managing Director of Collective Impact as a member of our Community Engagement and Impact team.

Prior to joining us, she served as President and CEO of Ride Connect Texas, a local nonprofit organization focused on boosting the independence of older adults through efficient mobility services. Additionally, she’s a small business owner and her work through that company earned her a Texas Governor’s Entrepreneurship Award.

Jane received her undergraduate degree in sociology as well as her graduate degree in public administration through the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Her primary assignment at the Area Foundation is managing our Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio (SALSA) initiative, a major undertaking considering this coalition brings together more than 40 community nonprofits working in unison toward improving the quality of life for older adults in our area.

Now into its fifth year since being formed, SALSA works through a steering committee as well as workgroups focused on the issues of transportation, housing and caregiving.

By the way, still curious as to what exactly we mean by “collective impact?” Well, it describes an intentional way of working together and sharing information for the purpose of solving a complex problem – the hope being that SALSA will wield more influence as a collaborative coalition than if one single organization were to try to go at it alone.

Keep reading below and check out the video to learn more about Jane and her important work advocating for older adults in our community.

Q: What kind of work were you doing prior to joining the Foundation? How did that connection happen?  

A: Before coming to the Area Foundation, I was the CEO/President of a local nonprofit serving older adults and people with disabilities. I connected with the Area Foundation when my organization became a partner in the SALSA collective impact initiative. I was grateful to be working on systems-level change in the aging field. Still am.

Q: What is SALSA all about? What would you say you’re ultimately trying to accomplish? 

A: SALSA was created by the Area Foundation to increase leadership, collaboration across sectors and funding to ensure older adults have access to necessary services, information and support systems. SALSA is focused on a vision of a community where older adults are respected, thrive and enjoy connected lives. By providing leadership, funding, research and collaboration, we have the opportunity to improve the quality of life of older adults through strategic initiatives and partnerships. I work with over 40 organizations from the public, private and social sectors – more than 100 people dedicated to the SALSA vision. 

Q: One recent major effort you’ve undertaken in your role is through the Reframing Aging initiative. This is quite unique and pioneering. 

A: The Reframing Aging initiative is a long-term social change endeavor designed to improve the public’s understanding of what aging means and the many ways that older people contribute to society. With training received through The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), SALSA trained and graduated 15 Reframing Aging facilitators dedicated to using evidence-based, cutting-edge communications tools and messages developed by FrameWorks Institute and tailored for our community.

Q: What would you say is the top challenge older adults face in our community and what can everyday folks do about it?  

A: Ageism. Ageism is discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping based on age. Age-based discrimination in employment, housing and healthcare can negatively affect the health and well-being of older adults. In a recent study by AARP, 82 percent of survey respondents aged 50-80 had experienced one or more forms of everyday ageism in their daily lives. The study also found that 36 percent of respondents had internalized ageism. SALSA is leading The Reframing Aging initiative in San Antonio. By changing the way that people talk and think about aging, we are setting the Area Foundation for policies and practices that leverage the strengths and talents of older people and leveraging systems that support well-being for all of us as we age.

Q: There has been a lot of talk about older adults during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. How do you think this was handled in society? Did it reflect how much work remains to be done in terms of improving the lives of older adults in our community? 

A: The pandemic has severely affected all of us but the impact has been even greater for older San Antonians. It’s not just health outcomes. Some older adults face challenges with social isolation, loneliness, transportation, food security and mental health. We are all aging and the Area Foundation is committed to a community where older adults are respected, thrive and enjoy connected lives.

The San Antonio Area Foundation believes in building an attractive and livable community that supports the improved health, well-being, and autonomy of older adults and values the contributions of all older adults. To learn more about how the Area Foundation invests in key areas including the SALSA initiative, click here.