To tap the vast resource of baby boomers moving into midlife and beyond in the Miami Valley, in 2016 the Dayton Foundation launched the Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative funded by a $1 million gift from the Del Mar Healthcare Fund. This three-year pilot program engages older adults (ages 55 and up) in leadership and Fellow roles and also recruits significant number of older adults as volunteers to tackle community projects addressing social issues including poverty, health and education.

This high-energy Older Americans Month video showcases the Foundation’s commitment to encore-age adults as a community resource.

How the Del Mar Encore Fellows Initiative Works: The Foundation recruited a Senior Fellow to develop and lead the effort. Initial Senior Fellow Jeanne Holihan was promoted to a staff role as the Foundation’s VP Operations – congratulations, Jeanne! Current Senior Fellow Noreen Willhelm brings extensive nonprofit leadership experience as well as a background in journalism and writing.

Three highly skilled older adults formed the first Fellows cohort, supporting three local nonprofits or initiatives.

Sherrè Collier, Brunner Literacy Center



Brunner Literacy Center: Through the organization’s Adult Literacy: The Invisible Struggle Initiative, Sherrè Collier will help define, measure and collaboratively mitigate the problem of adult illiteracy in the Dayton area. Sherrè retired from Wright Patterson Air Force Base with more than 30 years HR experience.



Vel Hux, Learn to Earn Dayton

 Learn to Earn Dayton: Vel Hux works with school districts. community partners and parents to improve the effectiveness and availability of afterschool and summer resources to enhance students’ educational achievement. Vel is a business consultant and adjunct professor.


Linda Fischbach, Miami Valley Works

Miami Valley Works: To advance this community initiative, Linda Fischbach will research why many people in poverty do not participate in programs leading to employment, career advancement and self-sufficiency. She also will educate community leaders, key stakeholders and others about the research and assist in developing a unified community approach to poverty reduction. Linda is a licensed professional clinical counselor, professor and former Executive Director.


This summer we’ll share news of the Del Mar Fellows second round program, including the nonprofit grantees and the Fellows chosen for their programs.

Contact: Noreen Willhelm

Published: May 25, 2018