In March 2014, Tim Lybarger convened a small group of individuals in Chesterland, Ohio to discuss a trend he was noticing related to the displacement of older workers. Many established professionals, defined as those who have mastered certain elements of their careers through years of experience, had lost their seat in the economy and were not able to reconnect in a meaningful way – both in terms of earning power and career satisfaction. In fact, many were cascading downward and finding themselves in serious financial trouble.
The trend appeared to be an outgrowth of globalization and was magnified by the 2008 recession. The closer the group looked, the more convinced it became that this was something of such size and importance that it warranted a focused and coordinated response.
Encore NEO (for Northeast Ohio) was established as a nonprofit corporation in July 2015 to address the needs of the “cascading professional.” The term “Encore” was already familiar to many through the efforts of Encore.org, a national organization whose mission is to connect mid-life and older individuals with worthy community initiatives. Encore NEO focuses primarily on helping people over age 50 create new careers that meet financial needs and offer meaningful work.
Encore NEO received its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in October 2016, and in early 2017, conducted a strategic visioning and planning process that was facilitated by the Nonprofit and Public Service Center at Lakeland Community College. The process included the active participation of key community stakeholders and culminated with Encore NEO expanding its Board of Trustees and naming Tim Lybarger as Executive Director.
Since its inception, Encore NEO has tested hundreds of pilot programs. The organization has distilled what it learned into the current programming model which is hosted in the Encore NEO HUB, a physical gathering place where Encores meet, interact, support each other, learn, connect with resources, and discover pathways for their encore careers. Encore NEO’s long-term objective is to make this resource model available to any group that desires to address the needs of the “cascading professional” in their specific community.