Wayne State University

DETROIT — Odessa Jackson won a Most ABLE award from Operation ABLE of Michigan for her positive work ethic, special contributions to her employer and ability to overcome difficulties in order to achieve success. Jackson is a receptionist and assists with fund development at Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology. She recently was recognized at Operation ABLE’s “Ability is Ageless” luncheon, where WDIV news anchor and luncheon emcee Carmen Harlan presented her with a certificate and engraved crystal plaque..

Jackson was nominated by Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology, who cited her radiant attitude, deep respect for others, energy and high quality work as traits that make her a special employee. She is an active volunteer in her community and especially at Green Grove Baptist Church, where she has been a member of the Usher’s Ministry and now serves as second vice president and state convention chair of the United Church Ushers Association of Michigan.

Jackson received the award alongside Lichtenberg. In her speech to the crowd of more than 100, Jackson thanked her daughter Yvonne and her “family” at the Institute of Gerontology. “I congratulate all the nominees of the award,” she said. “You are all so deserving. And I am especially grateful to Operation ABLE for their mature worker training programs and their philosophy that ability is ageless.”

Jackson’s nomination described her as “a morning cup of sunshine for all. Odessa represents the Institute of Gerontology with warmth and fidelity. Her social skills and work abilities are more than ‘ageless,’ they are ‘age-enhanced.’”

At the same event, WSU President Allan Gilmour received Operation ABLE’s Neal Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his decision to “un-retire” a second time and guide the university through the difficult post-recession period.

Operation ABLE is a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 to help train and employ workers 40 and older through its Center for Working Families. It is affiliated with Spectrum Human Services and works with the AARP Foundation to expand services for adults 50 and older who have been hard hit by the economic downturn.


The Institute of Gerontology researches the aging process, educates students in gerontology, and presents programs on aging issues relevant to professionals, caregivers and older adults in the community (www.iog.wayne.edu). The institute is part of the Division of Research at Wayne State University, one of the nation’s preeminent public research institutions in an urban setting. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.