Leadership Asheville Seniors

Next class: Wednesdays, September 9 through November 4, 2015 - 2015 Program is Full - Waitlist Only

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 a hands-on service project and 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, seniors learn about our community’s most pressing needs and ways they can get involved to address those needs.


Next class: Wednesdays, September 9 through November 4, 2015 (waitlist only)

Every Wednesday for nine weeks, the class meets at different venues throughout the community, each day focusing on a different topic. We typically examine health care, the arts, environment, economy and housing, education, government and law.

LAS brochure

Past classes have included:

  • A day focused on hunger issues, childhood nutrition and local agriculture at MANNA Food Bank
  • A day focused on the challenges and successes of local school systems at Eliada Home
  • A day focused on affordable housing options and homelessness at the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity
  • A day focused on sustainable energy, the City of Asheville reduction in carbon, and "green" living at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest Training Center
  • A day focused on Asheville health care, community health services, and integrated medicine at CarePartners
  • A day focused on city and county government, law enforcement, and courts at the Asheville City Council Chambers and the Asheville Fire Department Training Room
  • And a day focused on Asheville’s history as a center for the arts at Handmade in America

More information on Leadership Asheville Forum


Next class: Wednesdays, September 9 through November 4, 2015

Program fee: $400 per person includes materials and catered lunches, and administration. Scholarships are available.

Registration: 2015 Program is full - contact Laurel Jernigan to be added to the waitlist, or the notify list for 2016.  Open to 2015/16 OLLI members only. See link below for registration form.

OLLI Membership: You must be a current OLLI member during the program year, or 2015/16.  If you are a current member, be sure to renew for 15/16, and if you are not a member, you can join for the 15/16 year anytime after August 1, 2015 for $70.  More information can be found here.

Scholarships: Scholarships are available up to 75% of the program fee.  

Refund Policy: Program fee is refundable less a $50/person administrative fee for full-paying enrollees.  

Contact Laurel Jernigan at 828.250.3871or ljerniga@unca.edu for more information.


Who can participate in LAS?

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 a week for nine weeks so participants are usually partially or fully retired. Sometimes new residents participate to “jump start” their understanding of the community and meeting others. Sometimes long-time residents participate to see the community through new eyes, meet new people, uncover new possibilities for themselves.

Participants must be current OLLI members.

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 session held?

The orientation is on the UNC Asheville campus whereas subsequent sessions are held in location throughout the community. The location always connects with the topic of the day; a session on agribusiness might be in a tobacco barn while a session on the justice system might be in a jail or courthouse.

Can I participate if I have some physical limitations?

We try to accommodate individual differences within the constraints of a group activity. Some locations have stairs or steps. We tour some facilities. Call OLLI at UNC Asheville, 828.250.3871, to discuss individual requirements.

Is financial assistance available?

We keep the cost affordable for everyone (53 hours of program for $400 is a bargain at roughly $7.50/hour). We have some limited scholarship funds available on request.

Who plans the program?

Graduates of the program work as a Leadership Team with the director 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, LAS graduates hope others can share a similar experience.

Here’s what some LAS XIII graduates 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