LeadingAge Magazine · November-December 2017 • Volume 07 • Number 06

Why LeadingAge Must be a Trusted Voice for Aging

November 16, 2017 | by Katie Smith Sloan

What are we doing to live up to our mission?

Just a few short weeks ago, I attended another wonderful LeadingAge Annual Meeting. More than 7,000 of our members and partners descended on the city of New Orleans for an intense 4 days of learning, sharing and catching up with old friends and new.

Katie Smith Sloan
Katie Smith Sloan

I had many conversations during my time in New Orleans, but a recurring theme became evident: People want to know what we are doing to be the trusted voice for aging in this country. I shared with them then—and will do so again here—examples of what the LeadingAge staff and state partners do to support you and the residents and clients you serve.

Last year, we adopted a new mission: to be the trusted voice for aging. Being the trusted voice for aging is a big responsibility. And it is one we don’t take lightly. It is a responsibility we share with each of you. You are the trusted voice in your communities. And you have earned this trust through actions, ideas and speaking truth to power.

We hold ourselves to a high standard, ensuring that we are making a difference. And ensuring that we are upholding all that is good and right about nonprofit aging services. We are effective because of the power of our missions, our footprint in communities across the country, and the millions of people LeadingAge members serve every day.

But the big question is: How and when do we know we are hitting the mark?

We know when Sen. Schumer invites LeadingAge—Niles Godes, senior vice president of congressional affairs, specifically—to represent the interests of older adults during a press conference on the potentially disastrous consequences of capping Medicaid for older adults and people living with disabilities.

We know when CMS Administrator Seema Verma invites only 3 organizations, including LeadingAge, to offer remarks at a listening session about regulatory burden at HHS, where we shared member stories about the burden of the new requirements of participation.

We know when Linda Couch, vice president of housing policy, along with her LeadingAge colleagues, coordinated the first-ever LeadingAge rally on Capitol Hill urging Congress to Save the HUD 202 program. Among the speakers were Sens. Casey and Menendez and Reps. Green, Price and Waters, who all took time from their busy schedules to show their support for LeadingAge’s work.

We know when subject-matter experts from LeadingAge are quoted in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Hill, and on National Public Radio about issues such as Medicaid reform, affordable housing, and long-term services and supports financing.

We know when Majd Alwan from the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technology (CAST) is invited to talk about CAST’s Shared Care Planning and Coordination Tool on a webinar for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, who then decided to collaborate with Majd and his team in 2018 to provide new and emerging care plan standards to include in CAST’s Matrix.

And we know when the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research (CFAR) joins forces with one of the preeminent gerontology programs in the country—the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston—to create the LTSS Center @UMass Boston. This unique collaboration is intended to blend the resources of a major research university with the expertise and experience of applied researchers working with providers in the field of long-term services and supports (LTSS).

These are just a few examples of what we are doing every day to help all of you provide quality, loving care to older adults who deserve nothing less.

Please reach out to me and tell me what you are doing in your communities to be the trusted voice for aging. Now, more than ever, we must tell the stories that show our collective commitment to making this country a better place to grow old.

Katie Smith Sloan is president and CEO of LeadingAge.