NEW GROUP NOW
Where Art Meets our Present Culture
NEW GROUP NOW is a new series of public forums which locate New Group shows within the larger context of American and/or global society.
Living Long: How We Face Aging Today
Monday, June 4
The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre
Framed by Lily Thorne’s Peace for Mary Frances, this panel will examine the very real phenomenon of Americans living longer, and the challenges and opportunities that presents. This will involve looking at the diversity of experiences, which may diverge depending on factors like class, race and place, and movements and strategies that are trying to respond to the changing times.
Over the last 15 years, Nancy Giles’ work as a contributor to the Peabody Award-winning CBS News Sunday Morning earned her 3 Emmy Awards for a unique blend of common sense wisdom, laugh-out-loud humor, and social and political commentary. A graduate of Chicago’s esteemed Second City improv troupe and a Theatre World Award winner, Giles appeared for three seasons on the acclaimed TV drama China Beach. Her one-woman shows include The Further Adventures of the Accidental Pundette, Notes of a Negro Neurotic, and Black Comedy: The Wacky Side of Racism, which the Village Voice called “smart and unforgiving.” She’s offered her perspectives as a frequent guest on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, The Beat with Ari Melber, and AM Joy. An accomplished voiceover and radio artist, Giles won back-to-back Gracies from the Alliance for Women in Media for Giles & Moriarty (with CBS News correspondent Erin Moriarty) on WPHT-AM in Philadelphia. Her podcast, The Giles Files, takes a lively spin on trending topics with interviews, commentaries, song parodies and more. For more than 25 years she’s been a proud volunteer with The 52nd Street Project, helping at-risk kids take part in acting, playwriting, and arts workshops, classes, and performances.
In his 30-plus years in journalism, John Leland has gone from chronicling youth culture to writing about the “oldest old.” It’s a fitting journey. Given the demographic trends, he writes, “Your elderly parents are the vanguard that your kids think they are.”
A graduate of Columbia College, he worked as a senior editor at Newsweek and editor-in-chief of Details magazine before joining The New York Times, where he has written for almost every desk at the paper. In 2015, he wrote a year-long series following six people age 85 and up, which became the basis for his new book, “Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year among the Oldest Old,” a New York Times bestseller. As he wrote in the Times about the series and the book, “No work I have ever done has brought me as much joy and hope, or changed my outlook on life as profoundly.”
He is the author of two previous books: “Hip: The History” and “Why Kerouac Matters.”
In her capacity as Director of Organizing at Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), Rachel McCullough has built numerous campaigns and coalitions focused dignity for care work & caregiving. She was a leader in the historic campaign for the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and has been thrilled to help develop the field strategy for Caring Across Generations since its launch in 2011. She serves on the steering committee of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network and is an author of the 2014 report The Eldercare Dialogues: A Grassroots to Transform Long-term Care. She is the Campaign Director of the New York Caring Majority, an unprecedented coalition of seniors, family caregivers, people with disabilities, and home care workers fighting for a more caring economy in New York State.
After a career that included almost 20 years on the Kings County Family Court bench Betty E. Staton returned to the Bedford Stuyvesant Community Legal Services Corporation (BSCLS) where she began her legal career as a staff attorney in 1979. She is currently President of The Brooklyn Legal Services which provides free civil legal services for poor and low income residents of Brooklyn.
In 1973, Judge Staton returned to Brooklyn College after an 18 year absence. After graduating in 1976, she entered New York University School of Law at the age of 42 on a full scholarship. She worked as a staff attorney at Bedford Stuyvesant Community Legal Services for eight years, including several years as Deputy Director and Director of Community Outreach and Education.
In March, 1987, she left BSCLS to become a founding partner in the law firm of Boyd Staton & Cave, the first African American female law partnership in the country. She worked at the law firm until 1991 when she was appointed to a ten year term on the New York State Family Court, In 2001, she was re-appointed her to a second ten year term and served until her mandatory retirement in 2004.
Judge Staton served as an adjunct lecturer at several colleges including CCNY, Medgar Evers, College of New Rochelle and New York City College of Technology where she taught Business Law for more than 15 years. Judge Staton is a member of several professional and community organizations. She is a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church where she is active in the Prime Time and Chosen ministries. Judge Betty loves to travel and dance. She is the 2013 winner of Stars of New York Dance a program that provides scholarships to aspiring young dancers. Her bucket list is to visit every state in the United States and every Continent throughout the world. Fourteen states and one continent (Antarctica) remain on her list.
Judge Staton is often asked why she has not retired. She feels blessed that God's Grace enabled her to begin her legal career at the age of 45 and she has been able to give meaningful services to people in the comnunity. She believes that there is still much that she can do and she is thankful every day for all God has given her: abundant Grace, talents, spiritual gifts of teaching and encouragement and the blessing of a sound mind and body.