Ernie Powell – Senior Votes Count! Co-Founder
Ernie Powell has been a leader, organizer, and policy issue expert, fighting on behalf of progressive causes and economic and health security issues impacting older Americans for over four decades. After college in the late sixties he was a boycott and union organizer with the United Farm Workers. Next he became a community organizer at the Church in Ocean Park in Santa Monica, CA.
He worked with community groups to defeat a redevelopment project that would have done great harm to local low-income residents. Those efforts also secured over 180 units of senior affordable housing in that same area of Ocean Park. He participated in the movement to win Rent Control in Santa Monica, making secure the rental housing for over 70% of the local residents, many of whom were senior and low income. He served as President of the local Democratic Club and Founding member of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation.
He went on to work in a number of electoral campaigns and organized later on environmental issues. In 1993 AARP hired Ernie as their Advocacy Representative in California. In 2008 he became AARP’s California Advocacy Manager. During his 19-year tenure with AARP, Ernie coordinated the effort in California to defeat the Bush plan to partially privatize Social Security. He organized twice to secure the final Senate vote to defeat a constitutional amendment in the late 1990’s called the “Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment”, a law that would have devastated the funding for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
While at AARP he organized in national campaigns to oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in the 1990s and through the next decade. In 2007 he was the issue lead for an attempt to bring health care reform to the State of California. And in that same year, as well as 2008, he was the issue lead for California AARP in support of the Affordable Care Act. He co-authored the proposal to bring “Direct Action Organizing” training and implementation to AARP nationally.
In February of 2012 he was offered and accepted the position of National Grassroots Director for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. From Washington D.C. and working with staff and volunteers nationwide he developed a whole new grassroots organization within NCPSSM. He also hosted a radio show in D.C. on “We Act Radio” called “Ernie Powell’s Grassroots Corner.”
He returned to Los Angeles in September 2013. He then left the employ of NCPSSM and soon started a consulting firm with expertise on issues and campaigns impacting older Americans. He has began research and early notes on a book about the senior movement. In December of 2013 he initiated and facilitated discussions with close professional and personal colleagues that led to the creation of Senior Votes Counts!
Ernie is available for speaking engagements nationally and or media interviews on behalf of Senior Votes Counts! He can be contacted through his email address at [email protected]