Leadership Asheville Seniors

Leadership Asheville Seniors—a learning and civic engagement program planned and led by its graduates and community members—provides a multi-faceted view of Asheville and Buncombe County. Through discussions with community leaders in distinctive venues, newcomers and longtime residents alike can gain new perspectives and consider ways to contribute their diverse experiences and talents for the good of the community.

Our Leadership Asheville Seniors program, started as one of the Center’s first programs in 1986, sets us apart from most lifelong learning institutions. Held once a year in the fall with nine weekly sessions, OLLI members learn about our community’s most pressing needs and ways they can get involved to address those needs.

Here’s what some LAS graduates have said:

  • “One of the most enjoyable things I have been a part of since moving here six years ago.” Bette Walburgh
  • “LAS has given me added respect and admiration for this community and its people.” Mimi Warren
  • “This program opened doors for me that I didn’t know existed. It will take time for me to process the extent of the experience. My friends in other cities are envious as a result of my sharing the experience of LAS.” Liz Pritchard
  • “Now I feel I have truly become a part of our community.” David Kwo
  • “LAS increased my knowledge of options for involvement in the community.” Katherine Armitage
  • “Getting to know my classmates was a high point for me.” Jack Jones

Leadership Asheville Seniors 35 Class

Register for Leadership Asheville Seniors 35. Due to the changing circumstances of the COVID-19 delta variant spread in our community, we may decide to move this program online if needed for changing conditions. Information will be updated on the website as needed.

This year’s LAS program will be offered virtually with some optional in-person tours and site visits, it will remain committed to the mission of learning and civic engagement within Asheville and Buncombe County. Traditionally LAS is offered one full day a week over nine weeks, but due to the virtual nature of this year’s program, we will be dividing each week into two shorter sessions. Each week will be unified by a topic and related to the overarching theme.

Sessions are scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesdays 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (online)
  • Thursdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (some optional in-person tours and online programming)

Program dates:

  • Orientation: September 9, 9:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Week 1: History, September 14 & 16
  • Week 2: Economic Development, September 21 & 23
  • Week 3: Food, September 28 & 30
  • Week 4: Healthcare, October 5 & 7
  • Week 5: Social Justice, October 12 & 14
  • Week 6: Environment, October 19 & 21
  • Week 7: Education, October 26 & 28
  • Week 8: Government, November 2 & 4
  • Week 9: Arts and Culture, November 9 & 11
  • Graduation, November TBA

LAS Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that the 2021 LAS class will be offered virtually with some optional in-person tours and site visits, and some of the following questions answered below are only relevant to the class when meeting in person. If you have questions that you do not see answered below, email us or call 828.251.6140.

Who participates in Leadership Asheville Seniors?

Those who want to learn more about the community and how they can make a difference should participate. We have no age requirements but do meet one day per week for nine weeks, so participants are usually partially or fully retired. Sometimes new residents participate to jumpstart their understanding of the community and to meet others. Sometimes longtime residents participate to see the community through new eyes, meet new people, and uncover new possibilities for themselves.

Do I have to be an OLLI member to participate?

You must be a current OLLI member during the program year of 2021-2022. Membership is not required to register, provided you join OLLI before the program start date.

What are the benefits?

Participants enjoy many benefits including:

  • meeting new people, including those that make the community work
  • understanding issues of vital concern to Asheville and Buncombe County
  • uncovering community needs
  • learning together with new friends

Where are LAS sessions held?

For 2021, all sessions will be held online via Zoom with some in-person meetings.

Historically, LAS orientation is on the UNC Asheville campus whereas subsequent sessions are held in locations throughout the community. The location always connects with the topic of the day; a session on education might be at a local school, while a session on the justice system might take place in a jail or courthouse.

Can I participate if I have some physical limitations?

Physical limitations will not prevent anyone from participating. We try to accommodate individual differences within the constraints of a group activity. Some locations have stairs or steps. We tour some facilities. To discuss individual requirements, email us or call 828.250.3871.

What is your refund policy?

The LAS program fee is refundable less a $50/person administrative fee for full-paying enrollees for cancellations made by 5 p.m. at least 10 days prior to the program start date. For cancellations made fewer than 10 days prior to the program start date, no refund is possible. To cancel, email us.

Is financial assistance available?

We keep the cost affordable for everyone. We have some limited scholarship funds available on request to cover up to 50% of the program fee. Visit our forms page to complete and submit a scholarship form.

Who plans the program?

Graduates of the program work as a leadership team with the program manager to plan the program for each topic day. Why do former participants recommend LAS so highly? Because LAS has made a difference in their lives, and LAS graduates hope others can share a similar experience.

Other questions about Leadership Asheville Seniors?

Email us.