Seek 2015 national conference will be institute’s first initiative

A national conference, Seek 2015: Engaging Communities to Age Well, will be the first major initiative of the new, local Pitman Institute for Aging Well.

The event, aimed at professionals in the aging field and individuals alike, will be Sept. 20 to 22 at Mill Race Center and other Columbus locations, according to organizers.

It will feature about 40 speakers, including nationally known leaders in the field of aging. For example, Fort Wayne architect Zach Benedict, who focuses much of his expertise on what he calls “communities for a lifetime,” will examine how cities can address challenges and opportunities of the older population segment.

Another speaker will be Mark Fagan, whose experience with retiree recruitment has been highlighted on major TV networks and publications such as The New York Times and USA Today.

“To be able to attract such top people for this is a major coup,” said Bob Pitman, longtime Mill Race Center executive director, who retired in December and for whom the institute is named.

The event will be presented in partnership with the National Council on Aging, the National Institute of Senior Centers and the University of Indianapolis, according to organizers. More than 50 sessions or learning opportunities will be included in the schedule.

Part of the focus of the gathering will be on models of collaborative programs highlighting teamwork among hospitals, parks and recreation departments, adult day care programs, colleges and other elements.

Some people, such as 86-year-old Columbus resident Marie Gray, already have shown an interest in the event.

“It’s exciting,” Gray said. “I’ll wiggle in there some place and definitely be there in some capacity.”