Tierna Unruh-Enos is publisher at The Paper.

In some ways, its name describes it exactly as it is. Modern Elder Academy is a self-described “community of inspired and empowered midlifers.” In short, the academy is a school for those who are hoping to discover something new as they hit midlife. Whether it’s finding a new passion or talent, MEA hopes to provide the space for just that. Founded by New York Times Best Selling author and hospitality entrepreneur Chip Conley, the academy steadily grew from its oceanside home base in Baja California Sur, in Mexico.

Earlier this year, MEA purchased 2,566 acres of the Saddleback Ranch in the Galisteo Basin outside of Santa Fe for the new academy and global headquarters. MEA will preserve over 75 percent of the ranch as permanent open space, introduce a trail system with public access, and engage regenerative grazing to replenish the land’s soil and water. “Santa Fe sells itself. Having the ranch in the natural environment and making sure what we do is in line with what Santa Fe stands for is very important to us,” said Chief Development Officer Skylar Skikos.

Skikos says Santa Fe was selected for a variety of factors including the beautiful natural environment, the rich cultural history, a tradition of being popular for adult learning and workshops, the breadth of talented workshop leaders and facilitators in the area, and the Indigenous elders in the region that can incorporate their wisdom into MEA programs.

“I think Santa Fe is perfect for what we offer. The academy is an immersive experience focusing on seeing people flourish in their mid-life. We’re a life wisdom school, and there’s a lot of wisdom in New Mexico,” Skikos said.

MEA is hoping to break ground on the Santa Fe location in the spring of 2022. Once fully operational, they hope to employ 25-35 people. To date, more than 1,500 people from 28 countries have participated in MEA’s programs from its Baja location. Students have ranged in age from 30 to 88, with 75 percent of alums being 45-65 years old with an average age of 54.

MEA is still enrolling students in its Baja location and enrollment for the academy’s February 2022 program is now open.