Alumnae News & Highlights
Making sure aging Americans live full, connected and meaningful lives is at the crux of everything Elizabeth Stewart Fox ’60 does.
It started nearly 40 years ago during her social work field placements, says Fox, in graduate school. “I was at the DC city council and assigned to work on final stages of some nursing home legislation” when she encountered a Catholic Charities representative who wanted to build a group home for low-income senior citizens. After graduation, Fox went on to open that Washington, D.C.-area group home, plus two more.
Expanding seniors’ community connections was the goal of Fox’s next professional endeavors: becoming Executive Director of Iona Senior Services in 1982 – a feat she calls her “most lasting accomplishment” – and starting up D.C.’s first Experience Corps program. While at Iona, Fox watched the organization grow from a small social service agency with one community center into a major provider (offering everything from meals to transportation, adult daycare, art classes, and case management services) with several D.C. locations, a globally accessible Helpline, and “hundreds of volunteers.” In 1993, Fox was named “Washingtonian of the Year.”
Experience Corps, which she brought to D.C. in 1999, connects senior citizen volunteers –tutors and mentors - with inner-city children in need of academic guidance. Fox eventually became a lobbyist for the organization, and helped establish provisions of both the 2006 Older Americans Act and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act - things like “work(ing) community volunteers into No Child Left Behind,” and making sure that enough emphasis was placed on “asking state and local agencies that funnel funds to local nonprofits to have a plan about what they’re doing.” After all, says Fox, “it’s not just about handouts to older people, it’s about engaging them.”
She’s been working since 2011 as a coordinator for the D.C. Senior Advisory Coalition, but Fox says she’s now slowly phasing out of work altogether. In the spirit of her career, she’s spending more time giving back to her own community instead, helping residents “build volunteer services for each other so that people can age in place.”
Staying in place is an important concept to Fox – one that likely stretches back to her HB days. “My parents died when I was starting my Sophomore year,” she says, noting that she had no other family in Cleveland. With the help of then-Headmistress Miss Coburn, Fox was able to finish out her high school years at HB, living with boarders in the school’s dorm. “I had only been at HB three years,” she says, “but it was my life. I felt very secure there.”
authored by Lisa Kroeger Murtha ’88
- Distinguished Alumnae Award