Press Release

Six Intergenerational Award Recipients Honored At Generations United’s Global Intergenerational Conference

(Washington, DC) – Today Generations United announced the honorees for their biennial awards program, to be presented at the 22nd Global Intergenerational Conference on July 27, 2023. They are: Robert Blancato (Jack Ossofsky Award for Lifetime Achievement in Support of Children, Youth, and Older Adults), Motion Picture & Television Fund (Intergenerational Innovation Award), Grands Stepping Up (Janet Sainer Grandfamilies Award), Michigan Health Endowment Fund (Leadership Award), Dr. Angelique Day (Brabazon Award for Evaluation Research), Marc Freedman (Pioneer Award).  

“We congratulate these individuals and organizations on their outstanding contributions to the intergenerational field,” said Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United. “Their efforts to build bridges across generations result in stronger communities and families that value people at all ages and stages of life.”  

The Jack Ossofsky Award for Lifetime Achievement in Support of Children, Youth and Older Adults honors the lifetime achievements of an individual whose efforts benefit both the young and the old. It is a lasting tribute to Jack Ossofsky, who was executive director of the National Council on the Aging, and one of the co-founders and early leaders of Generations United.  

Robert Blancato, the Executive Director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs and President of Matz, Blancato and Associates, is this year’s recipient of the Jack Ossofsky Award for Lifetime Achievement in Support of Children, Youth, and Older Adults. He has been a lifelong advocate for older adults, intergenerational approaches, and leadership on issues affecting families where grandparents and other relatives are raising children. He is also the National Coordinator of the bipartisan 3000-member Elder Justice Coalition, and the National Coordinator of the Defeat Malnutrition Today coalition. Blancato’s prior work history includes 17 years as a staffer in Congress and an appointment by President Clinton to be the Executive Director of the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, where he was an active champion for grandparents raising grandchildren, fighting to protect public benefits, and raising intergenerational issues to the national stage. His ongoing efforts to secure affordable health care, nutrition, and financial security will have a lasting impact on individuals of all ages and their families for years to come. 

“Intergenerational approaches are vital to advancing a more holistic society. When generations are united our nation is more creative, complete, and so much stronger.” – Bob Blancato 

The Intergenerational Innovation Award honors an intergenerational team, organization, or community group that has used an innovative intergenerational approach to create solutions. 

Motion Picture & Television Fund supports working and retired members of the entertainment community with health and social services. With relationships at the core of its mission, Motion Picture & Television Fund has created a program “Passing the Torch” that addresses ageism and diversity. It is designed to build intergenerational relationships between entertainment industry retirees who have a lifetime of institutional knowledge and youth from underserved communities. 

“Having the chance to learn from an experienced professional in the filmmaking industry is always a pleasure. It was beneficial to develop connections with people who are knowledgeable and experienced in this industry. It’s obvious that their explanations resonated with me and made an impression because I learned about the technical parts of filmmaking and gained insights into the creative process.”- Sarah 10th grade 

The Janet Sainer Grandfamilies Award honors a relative caregiver or person raised in a grandfamily, a professional, or an organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the field of grandparents and other relatives raising children. 

Karen Barnes is the founder and president of Grands Stepping Up, a non-profit corporation dedicated to assisting grandparents/kinship guardians who are raising their grandchildren. Barnes began raising her granddaughter due to her daughter’s opioid addiction, which she has now been clean from for 7 years now. This has given Barnes an intimate knowledge of the struggles of kinship families and a passion to use her natural gifts as a problem solver, an agent of change, and a giver of comfort and solace to those she serves. Grands Stepping Up offers a holistic wheel of support to the grand and kinship families such as legal, financial, and social support. Grands Stepping Up volunteer program allows many grand/kinship families to volunteer in their food and clothing pantries, while working alongside their children. The program engages legal and mental health professionals to work with grandparents raising grandchildren and helps kinship families by providing trauma-focused therapeutic services to address suffering and loss. 

“What sets Karen Barnes and Grands Stepping Up apart from other organizations is her dream of a better future for kinship families. This remarkable vision, in concert with her ability to make significant differences in the daily lives of individual grand/kinship families while also inspiring others to join her in effecting change on a larger more permanent scale is a gift to the citizens of Pennsylvania.”- Mary Flanagan   

The Leadership Award for Outstanding Support of Intergenerational Programs honors a funder whose support has led to significant advances in the intergenerational field.  

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund’s mission to improve the health of Michigan residents, with special emphasis on the health and wellness of children and seniors, has provided the perfect opportunity to advance intergenerational solutions that value people at all ages and stages of life. Their most recent strategic plan increased emphasis on the unique challenges faced by foster and adopted children, including those in guardian and kinship care, and their caregivers. The Health Fund has supported the development of intergenerational programs across the state that focus on improving health outcomes and building positive relationships whether through collaboration, storytelling, friendly visiting, caregiving, or access to healthy food. Their support of intergenerational solutions is helping to increase social connection among generations that are built to last and lead to healthier Michigan for all.   

“Each year brings a fresh reminder that as funders, our success is not separate from that of our partners and ultimately the communities they serve.” – Susan Jandernoa, Health Fund Board Chair, The Michigan Health Endowment Fund

The Brabazon Award for Evaluation Research honors an organization with an existing intergenerational program that has researched and documented the nature of the intergenerational dynamics that occur within it. 

Dr. Angelique Day is an associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington – Seattle and faculty affiliate of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute and Partners for Our Children. Dr. Day has provided technical assistance to the State of Washington in the development and evaluation of their Kinship Navigator program and assisted Washington tribes in tribally adapting the model for implementation at their own sites. She is also the evaluator for two Investing in Families Initiative grantees, where she is tracking the efficacy of models designed to increase kinship licensure and placement rates in state and tribal child welfare settings across multiple states. Dr. Day is also an evaluation consultant with Casey Family Programs, where she provides technical assistance support to four states building and evaluating kinship navigator programs. 

The Pioneer Award honors an individual or organization for pioneering approaches designed to strengthen intergenerational interdependence.  

Marc Freedman, the founder and Co-CEO of CoGenerate, is one of the nation’s leading experts on our multigenerational future. He is a member of the Wall Street Journal’s “Experts” panel, a frequent commentator in the media, and the author of five books. Originator of the encore career idea linking second acts to the greater good, Freedman co-founded Experience Corps to mobilize people over 50 to improve the school performance and prospects of low-income elementary school students in 22 U.S. cities. He also spearheaded the creation of the Encore Fellowships program, a one-year fellowship helping individuals translate their midlife skills into second acts focused on social impact, and the Purpose Prize, an annual $100,000 prize for social entrepreneurs in the second half of life. (AARP now runs both Experience Corps and the Purpose Prize.) 

“I think we need to hone our skills in working across generations. And then we also need to develop opportunities for older, younger and people in the middle to mix in the context of daily life. I think the key is proximity and purpose. We need to rethink the institutions that have been designed for older people and do it in a way which bring generations together for mutual benefit and for a greater sense of joy.” – Marc Freedman 

About Generations United: For three decades, Generations United’s mission has been to improve the lives of children, youth and older adults through intergenerational collaboration, public policies and programs for the enduring benefit of all. We have been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages come together.  We believe that we can only be successful in the face of our complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged.