From the Director

Richard C. Knopf

People say timing is everything. There is no good time to leave a profession that you worked so hard in the last 22 years, but sometimes you have to know when it’s time to walk away; when it’s a time to cherish what it was and take on a new journey. This summer was a big year for me. I turned the big 4-0 and sometimes numbers matter. I spent more than half my life as a high school athletic director, college athletic recruiter, and in various leadership roles in college athletics and campus recreation. The run has been amazing, but it was time to impact a new community.

My name is Jared Swerzenski, and this October I accepted the position of director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Arizona State University. The OLLI community drew me in the first time I started reading about it. Once I started learning more about it I could not stop. When I interviewed for the position in September, I felt such a deep connection to each person I met. I knew from that day that I wanted to be part of this special and amazing community. I was born and raised in Central Massachusetts. My wife, Jill, and our two kids, Claire and Elliot, moved to Arizona almost five years ago. We absolutely fell in love with the natural beauty of the state.

OLLI at ASU is built on steep tradition and excellence. The vibrance and passion of the members is something I have rarely seen in any community. I know the shoes of Richard Knopf that I have to fill is going to be nearly impossible. Richard has built OLLI at ASU into one of the premier OLLI locations in the nation. My vision will be to continue to build on what Richard and the team have created and infuse it with new, innovative ideas in hopes of expanding our membership and footprint in the greater Phoenix area. I have a deep passion for connecting people and creating partnerships. Together, we will continue to build and grow OLLI at ASU.

I am not the only one who has joined the team recently. We are now fully staffed for the first time in over two years.

Kristi Schneider joins the OLLI family with more than 20 years teaching experience as an AMI certified Montessori teacher and administrator. During that time, she developed and maintained a diverse program at the primary level. She also designed and implemented training content for continued education of lead teachers and assistants. When she sees a need in her community, she collaborates with others to find creative solutions to fulfill that need. Kristi is a friendly, outgoing, people person who enjoys family adventures, camping, and spending endless hours with her four grandchildren. Kristi said, “I am so honored and grateful to have been chosen for this position with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. I hope to add to the team in the most positive ways possible!”

Susie Rego joins the OLLI team with a total of 30 years’ experience as an Elementary Education teacher. She graduated from ASU with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and also has a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. Susie is a proud ASU alumni! She has a passion for education and lifelong learning. When she learned about OLLI and all that it offers, she knew that working for OLLI would be a wonderful next career move for her. Susie enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband, two children, and extended family. She is also an avid reader and loves to scrapbook her family’s adventures. She enjoys walking her two fur babies that she adopted in February 2020. Susie is thoroughly enjoying working with OLLI members and instructors and, in addition, is very thankful for the collaboration, support and positivity of the entire OLLI team!

In other OLLI news, I am excited to invite you to our end-of-year celebration ‘‘OLLI at ASU Night of Excellence’’ at the ASU Health Futures Center at the Mayo Clinic on April 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There will be much more information to come, but please save the date because it will be a celebration you won’t want to miss.

I am honored and humbled to be the next director of OLLI at ASU and welcome any conversation, suggestions, and ideas on how we can grow and excel.

To the future,

Jared Swerzenski, Director, 

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at ASU