After a 75 year-old immigrant mother gets fired without cause from her lifelong job as a hotel housekeeper, her son takes her on a bucket-list adventure to reclaim her life. As she struggles to find work, he documents a journey that uncovers the economic insecurity shaping not only her future but that of an entire generation. This is the story of mother-daughter team Rebecca Danigelis and filmmaker Sian-Pierre Regis–subjects of the documentary film Duty Free and special guests at this Reimagine event. Rebecca, Sian-Pierre, and Susan Silberman, Senior Director, Research & Evaluation at NCOA (National Council on Aging), will be in conversation about ageism, justice, and pursuing your passions at any age. After their discussion, participants will have the option to join small breakout room sessions guided by the following prompts:
Can you share any insights about yourself resulting from any loss or grief you may be experiencing due to aging? At the same time, can you name at least one new opportunity or see one new pathway that has cleared?
What can you do to regulate difficult emotions you may be feeling?
What acts of service, advocacy, or activism might help you navigate these struggles with aging?
Rebecca Danigelis is the 80 year-old star of the critically acclaimed and award-nominated documentary Duty Free. After being fired from her long-time career as a hotel housekeeper at the age of 75, Danigelis has become an activist against ageism in both workplaces and communities. The upbeat mother of three uses her lived experience to educate employers and employees on the values of being age-inclusive, underlining the essentiality of including age in DEI initiatives. As a speaker, Danigelis has the ability to connect with audiences internationally. @rebrexit
Sian-Pierre Regis is a filmmaker who directed, produced and self-distributed his debut feature documentary Duty Free. Released in 30 theaters over Mother's Day 2021, Duty Free was a press magnet garnering coverage from CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, MSNBC, The Tamron Hall Show, AARP; the film was also a #1 Apple News story through the weekend. It is nominated for a prestigious IDA award in the Writing category.
Prior to filmmaking, Regis was a journalist and on-camera contributor to CNN, HLN, MTV and founded Swagger, an online lifestyle magazine for millennials with over 1.5 million fans.
Susan Silberman, Ph.D. is Senior Director, Research & Evaluation at National Council on Aging. She has more than 25 years of experience in the research and evaluation field as a political economist, researcher, and evaluator focusing on health care, economic security, public policy, and opinion survey research. Silberman has worked in communities across the United States, including with Native Americans and Indigenous people, helping people at the local level learn to evaluate their programs and services.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the national voice for every person’s right to age well. We believe that how we age should not be determined by gender, color, sexuality, income, or ZIP code. Working with thousands of national and local partners, we provide resources, tools, best practices, and advocacy to ensure every person can age with health and financial security. Founded in 1950, we are the oldest national organization focused on older adults. Learn more at www.ncoa.org and @NCOAging.
About Reimagine and the “Aging as Grief, Aging as Growth” Series
Reimagine is a nonprofit organization catalyzing a uniquely powerful community–people of different backgrounds, ages, races, and faiths (and no faith) coming together in the hopes of healing ourselves and the world. We specifically support each other in facing adversity, loss, and mortality and–at our own pace– actively channeling life's biggest challenges into meaningful action and growth. www.letsreimagine.org
Age isn’t “just a number.”
Western culture does an awful job of helping us face the universal experience of aging. We’ve created a society that celebrates and rewards youth and often makes older adults feel invisible and unnecessary. As a solution, beauty brands sell “anti-aging” products. Doctors and researchers suggest that aging is a disease treatable with surgery and medication. Ageism is real for job seekers, beginning with those in their 30s.
Certainly, there are real adversities and challenges associated with aging, and so few spaces to acknowledge and mourn these losses. At the same time, there are aspects of getting older that are, in fact, gifts to recognize and share with our loved ones, communities, and workplaces…if only we could see them.
With guidance from healers, artists, social entrepreneurs, and activists, we’ll gain tools and inspiration to view aging not only as an inevitable challenge, but also as a source of newfound strength, vitality, and wonder.