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Rob Ence attended his first meeting of the Utah Commission on Aging on Thursday as executive director.

Ence, former west regional vice president for AARP, assumed his post on May 16 after a "rousing round of approval," said Mark Supiano, who represents higher education on the commission.

After leaving his position at AARP, Ence said he wanted to find another position in the aging world that he would love and that would allow him to make a difference in the community. He found out about the commission opening by chance and went through a two-part hiring process, ending his appointment by the governor.

"This is not a deeply resourced position. The potential is untapped," said Ence.

Ence says that although he is not a prolific researcher or fundraiser, he is an energetic, strategic thinker who likes to listen to multiple ideas and can build a clear strategy for the future. He has access to a wide variety of resources from his previous positions in the field, and he hopes to lead the commission to seek out the best solutions for the collective.

"I don't want to just survive as a commission; I want us to thrive," said Ence. "I want us to be innovators of future possibilities."

The commission is charged with using research and public education to help guide policy and facilitate coordination of services related to aging.

Ence stressed the idea of working for the collective, saying he wants the commission to provide resources that will help train and educate businesses, the public sector and individuals. The commission, he said, needs to decide what it thinks are the most important milestones that will lead to success.

"We have a responsibility to prepare this state to care for each other as we age," said Ence.

The Commission on Aging was originally intended to last a few years. The commission has a legislative hearing June 15 on its continued authorization. Ence plans to show that the commission has "moved a needle" and to ask for additional funding.

Ence previously served as AARP's Utah state director, CFO of Planned Parenthood of Utah and the Midtown Community Health Center and COO/CFO of Sage Creek Apparel Co. He received an MBA from the University of Utah in 1991.