Mather and the Chautauqua Institution have announced a new partnership to jointly implement research and programming for senior living communities while providing a forum to discuss critical issues.

The new partnership, according to the not-for-profit organizations, has three goals: connecting communities for enriching online engagement, collaborating on research that will positively affect older adults, and sharing research findings via online programming.

Mather, based in Evanston, IL, serves almost 200,000 older adults through its senior living residences, community-based initiatives, as well as research by Mather Institute. 

Chautauqua Institution is a 750-acre educational center on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York that serves 100,000 patrons. The organization focuses on interdisciplinary and intergenerational experiences in education, visual and performing arts, spirituality and recreation.

Mary Leary headshot
Mary Leary

The idea for the partnership evolved over time, Mather President and CEO Mary Leary told McKnight’s Senior Living. Leary grew up in upstate New York and often visited Chautauqua Institution over her summers. Her sister-in-law, now a member of the Chautauqua Institution board, was married on the grounds.

“A number of years ago, an industry colleague and I were chatting, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Chautauqua programs could be live streamed into senior living communities?’ ” Leary said. “The idea was a little ahead of its time.”

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Chautauqua Institution to move its summer programming to an online video platform, CHQ Assembly. Leary took the opportunity to broach the idea of a partnership with her sister-in-law, which led to an introduction with Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Mather’s and Chautauqua Institutions’ missions are closely aligned, in terms of seeking to engage people and enrich lives through a wide spectrum of programs,” Leary said. We each desire to reach a larger and more diverse audience and serve as thought leaders and impact people in a transformational way.”

Through the partnership, CHQ Assembly — which can be accessed on desktops, laptops, televisions and mobile devices — will have a TV channel featuring programming from Mather Institute and potential researchers from university collaborations. Leary said the research and process will evolve over time, beginning with online questions, but there will be an opportunity to participate in virtual  “front porch discussion” focusing on “issues affecting our country and the world.”

Leary said research topics and discussions will develop from those front porch discussions and initial research panels. Mather also will develop discussion guides and resources for senior living providers that want to continue to engage residents in those ongoing discussions.

She indicated that the research panels are open to any age group, and they will provide data for comparing opinions across generations. 

“Mather is quite excited about this new partnership, because we’ll be able to connect with people from across the country, with people of all ages, through research panels,” Leary said. “This is a long-term partnership that will evolve over time, and we have a long list of potential ideas we hope to implement as we continue forward.”

Anyone who registers online at for Chautauqua Institution programming will be eligible to participate in the research panels. After Chautauqua’s summer programming ends, a $3.99 subscription fee will be leveraged per individual viewer to help the institution pay for its programs. The subscription replaces the typical gate fee that summer attendees would pay.

The partnership is still in its infancy, and programming will be forthcoming, but Leary said the first two panels will focus on digital engagement among older adults in the United States amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and motivators of healthy behaviors. 

“We hope to be able to get the word out to the senior living industry nationwide,” Leary said. “We’re thrilled to have access to programs which senior living providers would not otherwise be able to replicate.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work in new and exciting ways with an organization of Mather’s distinction that also has a mission that is perfectly aligned with ours,” Hill said. “This partnership signals the opportunities before us now as we deliver a robust online expression of Chautauqua’s mission.