By Joyce Gannon
Betsy Werley was close to turning 50 when she woke up in the middle of the night and realized it was time to leave a nearly two-decade career in law and finance at banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The New York-based bank was acquiring Bank One, the third mega-merger deal Chase had conducted in the 18 years Ms. Werley worked there.
Her options: a severance package or another position in the combined company.
After her revelation that it was time for a change, two weeks before the deadline set for employees to stay or go, she took the money and turned her focus to what she had been contemplating for a while: a career in the nonprofit sector.
“My heart was much more in that,” she said. She developed a passion for nonprofits during her career at Chase when she was president of a women’s business group and volunteered at other organizations.
As it turned out, that connection to nonprofits led her to a job offer three weeks after she left Chase.
She became executive director of Transition Network, a nonprofit that helps women over 50 figure out the next step in the professional and personal lives.
In 2012, she left that position and now is an “innovation fellow” with Encore.org, a nonprofit that provides resources for people, primarily baby boomers, trying to find meaningful work and make a contribution to society in their so-called “encore careers.”
A 2012 report from the Building Movement Project of New York surveyed 300 leaders of U.S. nonprofits aged 55 and older, and found that a majority want to continue in the sector, either in paid or nonpaid positions, though many want more flexibility and less responsibility.
Research from the Bayer Center has shown many women who retire from nonprofits will need to continue working because of gender disparity that resulted in them earning less than men throughout their careers.