Program for people 50+ sees growth under retiring exec. director

Anne Holt's Tennessee

She’s a superstar in Nashville’s nonprofit community. When Janet Jernigan took over in 1989, it was called Senior Citizens, Inc.  

Today, it’s Fiftyforward and “forward” is where she’s been moving 50 and older adults for 29 years. 

“The main thing is people want to continue to contribute and stay involved,” said Jernigan.  

At age 74, Janet Jernigan is the epitome of life after 50. 

“I’ve been a runner for 40 years and a triathlete for about 35, and that takes a great bit of training and that’s a great stress relief.”  

Janet brings that same competitive spirit to her job as executive director at Fiftyforward, an organization that supports and enhances life for those 50 and older.  

“I think that has given me the energy all these years to be able to work as I have and be as active as I am in the community.”  

And while few peers can match her active lifestyle, Janet points to a wide range of Fiftyforward programs that touch all aspects of senior living.  

“I think what I’ve learned is people have all these talents and abilities and just need a good place to do that, whether that’s at Fiftyforward or some other place in the community.” 

Fiftyforward was the perfect place for 82-year-old Neil Buchannan.  

The retired educator is a volunteer tutor with Metro Schools. Fiftyforward operates seven lifelong learning centers, offering programs from meals on wheels to adult day services.  

Its programs touch the lives of 20,000 individuals each year. Starting next year, the job of leading the agency falls to Janet’s successor, Sallie Hussey.  

“It’s a little daunting to step in after Janet Jernigan. But I could not be more excited about it,” said Hussey.  

With the number of people aged 60 and older expected to grow by 33% in Davidson County between 2010 and 2020, and by 87% in Williamson County, Fiftyforward must meet the needs of a growing population.  

The agency celebrated Janet’s retirement by launching the Janet Jernigan Legacy Fund as a long-range funding solution to the critical work of Fiftyforward. 

Even though Janet is retiring from Fiftyforward, she won’t be slowing down. She lives on a 500-acre cattle farm with saddle horses and she has a 5k race coming up on New Years. 

Click here to read more of Anne Holt’s Tennessee stories

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