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National Council on Aging


Our core values: social and economic justice; respect and caring; a passion for innovation; integrity and excellence.

Our core competencies: fostering and diffusing innovations; being a powerful national voice and advocate; creating and leading strategic alliances and partnerships; developing and managing a nationwide network of collaborative organizations and leaders.


Founded in 1950, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a charitable organization dedicated to improving the health and independence of older persons and increasing their continuing contributions to communities, society, and future generations. NCOA improves the lives of older Americans through innovation, advocacy and community services.


Our programs help older people remain healthy, find jobs, discover new ways to continue contributing to society after retirement, and take advantage of government and private benefits programs that can improve the quality of their lives. NCOA is also a national voice for both older Americans and community organizations, leading advocacy efforts on important national issues affecting seniors.

At the heart of NCOA is a national network of more than 14,000 organizations and leaders that work with us to achieve our mission. NCOA’s members include senior centers, area agencies on aging, adult day service centers, and faith-based service organizations, senior housing facilities, employment services, consumer groups and leaders from academia, business and labor.


Each year, NCOA programs help find jobs for some 4,000 people. More than 1.8 million have used BenefitsCheckUp, our Web-based service, to find out about federal, state and private benefits programs they may have missed. Family Friends volunteers are working in 26 communities nationwide, matching older people with younger persons with disabilities and chronic conditions. NCOA helped more than 200,000 people learn about Medicare Prescription Drug coverage in 2006. NCOA, in conjunction with local non-profit groups, is locating an enrolling elderly Katrina disaster victims in needed federal, state and local benefits.


James P. Firman, Ed.D

For more than 25 years, Dr. Firman has been a leading force for innovation in services and programs for older persons. Under his leadership, NCOA has developed many nationally-acclaimed programs to improve the health, independence and continuing contributions of older adults. He has also directed NCOA’s development of world-class core competencies in expert systems, diffusion of innovation, public-private partnerships and advocacy.

Dr. Firman has served in several national leadership roles including Chair of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (twice), Chair of the Access to Benefits Coalition and Board Member of Generations of United and the National Human Services Assembly.

Prior to joining NCOA as president and CEO in January 1995, Dr. Firman was, for 10 years, founder and CEO of the United Seniors Health Cooperative (USHC), a nonprofit consumer organization. At USHC, he directed the development of the nation’s first line-of-credit reverse mortgages, the Cooperative Caring Network, a major community-wide volunteer service-credit program that helps frail and disabled persons remain at home. He also helped develop the early versions of BenefitsCheckUp, now one of NCOA’s core bodies of work.

From 1981 to 1984, Dr. Firman served as a senior program officer at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where he helped develop initiatives in aging and healthcare finance, as well as the model Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers program. He is a co-founder of Grantmakers in Aging.

Dr. Firman earned his M.B.A. and his Ed.D from Columbia University.


United States


1901 L Street, NW

4th Floor

Washington, DC 20036

Phone: (202) 479-1200

EIN: 13-1932384

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