Meet AARP Washington’s Volunteer Executive Council

Posted on 10/01/23

AARP Washington is proud to introduce our 2023 State Executive Council. The all-volunteer Executive Council helps guide AARP's activities on behalf of nearly 900,000 members in the state, and provides leadership in long-range planning to help meet the needs of Washington state’s older adults and their families.

Members of AARP Washington’s Executive Council include:

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Jim Ko – State President

Jim Ko has been an active AARP volunteer since 2017 - both as a member of the Executive Council, and as a volunteer with the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program. He is a retired consumer goods industry executive with experience in general management, operations, project management, international trade, and business and new venture development. As Vice President of Channel Business Development for Starbucks from 2011-2015, he led the successful negotiation of new business partnerships and product launches in Asia and Europe. He’s also held positions with Campbell Soup/Pepperidge Farm, DuPont and Kraft Foods.

Jim holds an M.S. in Management and Operations Research from Columbia University in New York, and a B.S. in Industrial Engineering/Operations Research from Cornell University. He lives in Seattle with his wife Catherine, and has two grown children.

***Read more about AARP Washington in this special message from Jim.

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Debby Ryan – Executive Council Member

Debby Ryan spent much of her career in public health, including 29 years with the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC). She was on the executive board of the Washington Association of Local WIC Agencies (WALWICA) in various positions. Two of those years she spent representing Washington state at the national level, advocating for children in the nations' capital.

Debby is quite active in her home community of Spokane. She is on the executive board for her neighborhood council, and she's the Community Assembly representative. She is a board member for the East Spokane Kiwanis, and a member of the East Spokane Business Association, working towards making East Central a vibrant business area. Debby is a past executive board member for the East Central Community Organization, providing housing for low income residents. She was a member of the Boy Scouts of America for 33 years, spending the majority of those years training adults in leadership skills.

Debby has been an active AARP volunteer since 2019. She is vice president for the local AARP Chapter 384 in Spokane. She's a member of the volunteer speakers bureau, a volunteer advocate, and part of the outreach team representing AARP at local events and activities. She also volunteers with the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program as a field facilitator.

Debby has lived in the East Central neighborhood of Spokane since 1980, where she raised her 2 sons.

*** Click here for a short video of Debby at a recent legislative event in support of improved housing options in the state.

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Heather Doscher – Executive Council Member

Vancouver BC resident Heather Doscher has had an active career in the insurance industry since 2006. She is currently a Property and Casualty (P&C) broker for Federated Agencies where she works with specialty markets such as Directors and Officers (D&O). She has served in the AARP Driver Safety program for 13 years, including 6 years as the data manager.

Heather was a resident of Spokane for many years, graduating from Eastern Washington University with a BA before moving to Vancouver. She continues her education for a better understanding of both countries’ regulations and has completed the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and the Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designations in her field. She hopes to serve the Executive Council and AARP's Driver Safety program for many years to come.

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Cindy Gossett – Executive Council Member

Cindy Gossett is a retired executive and a volunteer in the Seattle area. She is currently the Washington State Coordinator for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. She leads a team of 900 volunteers who provide free tax assistance at more than 100 sites across the state and has been a volunteer with the program for 11 years.

Cindy has Bachelor Degrees in Physics and in Mathematics from DePauw University, and Masters and Doctorate degrees in Physics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

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Jeff Ketchel – Executive Council Member

Jeff Ketchel has been part of the public health system in Washington state for 29 years. He has been the administrator of the Grant County and Snohomish Health Districts, and executive director of the Washington State Public Health Association. Jeff has served as Board Chair of the Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials and the Washington State Board of Registered Sanitarians.

He holds an MA in policy studies from the University of Washington-Bothell and a BS from Central Washington University. In addition, he is a recipient of the 2022 WSPHA President’s Award. A lifelong Washingtonian, Jeff lives in Spokane with his wife Emily and their three children Harrison, Opal, and Ruby.

*** Click here for a recent "Caring for Caregivers" podcast with Jeff as he discusses the pressures facing "Sandwich Generation" caregivers.

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Brenda Charles-Edwards – Executive Council Member

Brenda Charles-Edwards is a native of Seattle. Her passion for helping and educating people lead her to create the radio show, Seniors Matter! The show provides resources and activities for older adults, their families and caregivers. Brenda is President of the Seattle AARP Chapter #4588 and a presenter in AARP’s Speakers Bureau. She's also an End-of-Life Planning Facilitator who helps people deepen their understanding and perspectives on death and dying. As past Chair of the Mayor’s Council for African American Elders, Brenda lead the support for legislation that lowered property taxes for seniors.

Brenda has been a Notary Public since 1992, and is also a mentor for new notaries in the state. She's a National Notary Association Ambassador for Washington state, a 2017 Notary of the Year Special Honoree, and was a NNA 2017 - 2019 Conference workshop presenter. Brenda also advocated for changes in 2018 to Washington state’s notary code to make it mandatory that notaries use journals to document their signings for the benefit of the signer and the notary.

*** Click here for a video profile of Brenda as she discusses why she's passionate about volunteering.

This story is provided by AARP Washington. Visit the AARP Washington page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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