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ILR gears up to renew programs

ILR gears up to renew programs
Erin Johnson

Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) is gearing up for travel opportunities, continuing education workshops, movie days, luncheons and social events after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic under a new program director.

On April 19, existing members of the organization will come together at Co-Lin's Thames Center for a social event in which they will renew acquaintances, discuss their ideas and expectations for the group moving forward and install officers they elected to lead them before the pandemic put the ILR program on hold.

ILR, a Co-Lin-sponsored membership organization, provides continuing education experiences for retired and semi-retired older adults. In ILR, participants define their own informal educational goals and pursue them at their own pace, based on their own choices and talents. Members, who design the group's program, come from wide ranging backgrounds and bring varied experiences to the organization. Co-Lin staff administers ILR and the college provides facilities for the organization, which is fully funded by member dues.

Co-Lin's Erin Johnson is ILR's new program director, assuming the role as part of her new position as Events Coordinator for the college in which she replaced Tricia Russell who retired last year. As Events Coordinator at Co-Lin, Russell took over responsibilities for part-time ILR programming positions held previously by Marilyn Britt Brown and Julie Wright.

"I will be primarily a facilitator, helping to implement what the ILR board and planning committees want to do and helping the organization to function -- arranging travel, assisting committees at their meetings, booking classrooms, managing finances," Johnson says.

ILR, she stresses, is member-driven, and through the summer it will chart its course for 2022-23 year.

"In August, we will host a second social to reach out to new members, collect dues and introduce activities for the fall term and holiday season," Johnson notes.

Last month, Johnson started working with ILR board members Diane Summers, publicity secretary Joy Wesbrooks, past president Bettie Bullard, president Tommy Sasser, Kim Whittington and George Huffman to begin the planning process that will culminate with the group's program announcement in August.

Johnson, who grew up in Ruth, Mississippi, outside Enterprise, on a farm that raised Angus and Hereford cattle with two brothers and two sisters, joined Co-Lin this year following her education and a subsequent business career.

A 2005 Enterprise High School graduate, Johnson earned an Associate's degree in business administration at Co-Lin in 2007 and a BA in business administration with an emphasis in marketing at Mississippi College in 2009. She served as Executive Assistant to the President at Brookhaven-based Reed's Metals for seven years, and then started Erin & Company as a Brookhaven store in 2015 where she sold clothing and jewelry, and then operated it solely as an online venue from 2020-22 after the COVID-19 pandemic sharply reduced her retail traffic. In 2020 and 2021, she also went to back to work for her former Reed's Metals boss Bernie Reed at Reed Capital Investors in Brookhaven.

Johnson continues to reside in Ruth, where her brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews also live as part of a tightly-knit family community. She is an active member of Topisaw Baptist Church where she teaches fifth and sixth grade Sunday school classes, sings in the choir and enjoys participating in mission trips to a Navajo reservation in New Mexico and helping with special projects like back-to-school clothing collections for the native Americans who live in poverty.


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