BOISE — Bessie Katsilometes, former dean of Idaho State University-Meridian, has been named AARP Idaho’s new state president — the highest state-level volunteer position within the nonprofit organization that advocates for middle-aged people and seniors.
Katsilometes was affiliated with ISU for roughly four decades as a student and employee before she retired in 2016 as the associate vice president for university programs at the ISU Meridian Health Science Center.
In her 30 years working for ISU, Katsilometes held a variety of leadership roles and helped lead the university’s efforts to build its Meridian campus.
On Thursday, AARP Idaho announced Katsilometes’ next role will be leading the AARP Idaho volunteer executive council. She will work to achieve AARP’s vision, mission and strategic priorities in the state, said a news release.
“I am very pleased to have Bessie join us as the incoming state president for AARP Idaho,” said Lupe Wissel, AARP Idaho state director, in a news release. “Her extensive leadership experience and her passion for issues such as healthcare, retirement, housing and livable communities will serve Idaho’s 50-plus community very well.”
AARP, a nonpartisan advocacy organization for people 50 and older, has more than 186,000 members in Idaho and more than 37 million nationwide.
Katsilometes replaces Tom Trail, who held the state president position since 2014.
“I am delighted to be associated with AARP Idaho leadership and membership for the breadth of endeavors and the depth of volunteer commitments in helping to make the state an excellent place to live,” Katsilometes said in the news release.
Key priorities for AARP Idaho at next year’s legislative session include retirement savings options for employees without access to plans at work, better “telehealth” access for unpaid family caregivers and increased broadband in rural areas.
“Among the many initiatives in which AARP Idaho is engaged is ‘Livable Communities’ benefiting all ages in focusing on education, health and safety, housing, recreation, transportation, and other major indicators of well-being for citizenry,” Katsilometes said in the news release. “I look forward to engaging and energizing volunteers to carry out AARP’s vision, mission and strategic priorities in the state.”Katsilometes moved to Idaho from South Dakota in 1970 to attend ISU. She holds a Ph.D. in humanities from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
In 2017, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter appointed Katsilometes to the Higher Education Task Force. She also served on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, the Governor’s Coordinating Council for Families and Children, and the Idaho Housing and Finance Association Board of Commissioners.
Katsilometes has participated in several community organizations, including the Idaho Community Foundation Board of Directors, the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center Community Hospital Board and Mission Committee, the Idaho Area Health Education Center Advisory Board, the United Way of Treasure Valley Health Vision Council, Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) Dean’s Advisory Council and as the ICOM Admissions Committee. She currently serves on the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children Governing Board of Directors.
Her appointment with AARP is effective Jan. 1. Katsilometes joins returning executive council members Marjean Waford of Pocatello, Corrine Fisher of Nampa and Barbara Blasch of Boise.