The 2023 LeadingAge Leadership Summit, April 17-19, 2023, in Washington, DC, will give LeadingAge members the opportunity to meet and build relationships with peers; gain essential education on leadership, workforce development, advocacy, DEI, and other major topics affecting the future of our field; and meet face-to-face with legislators to advocate for older adults.
The Summit’s smaller scale and strong focus on leadership makes it easy for participants to learn from each other and dive deep into challenging issues and trends that are rapidly changing the field of aging services.
We talked with a group of members who have attended past Leadership Summits to find out why they come back year after year and look forward to the 2023 Summit.
Making Connections, Learning Leadership
“The Leadership Summit is my favorite engagement,” says Erica Thrash-Sall, executive director for McFarlan Charitable Corporation, Flint, MI. “There are opportunities to connect in deeper ways with other leaders around the country. One of the things I love is after a session, there is a real opportunity to learn from and engage with presenters. […] and to have good dialogue with other people who have attended those same sessions.”
Evan Lubline, CEO at Hooverwood Living, Indianapolis, IN, says, “I like the networking and the new innovative ideas at the Leadership Summit. For this year, after all the hardship and bad PR that nursing homes get, it will be refreshing to come back to the conference and think about the future. I want to come back with at least one new idea that will help improve my organization.”
The Summit is one example of the value of membership, says Rev. Dr. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes, Marion, OH: “The Leadership Summit has been a part of my professional development in my 30-plus years of membership. The information shared, the innovations presented, and the opportunity to take our story to lawmakers covers all the major reasons why I belong to LeadingAge.”
“Attending the Leadership Summit is always a fruitful experience,” says Diana Delgado of Eaton Senior Communities, Lakewood, CO. “I particularly benefited from last year’s board engagement panel. As a new CEO, the sharing of ideas among leaders of other organizations was a powerful tool to bring innovative practices back to my organization’s board.” Delgado is also a graduate of the LeadingAge Fellowship Program for New CEOs.
Some Summit attendees, like Lois Mills, VP & chief people officer for Otterbein SeniorLife, attend the Summit to make their mark on other members’ leadership development. Mills looks forward to the 2023 Summit, where she will serve as a coach in the Larry Minnix Leadership Academy.
Making the Most of Education, Networking, and Advocacy
The Summit offers an education program that helps members gain new perspectives on perennial problems, a structure well-suited for networking, and a long-standing commitment to advocacy education and Capitol Hill visits, giving members direct access to federal legislators.
Last year’s deep-dive presentation on Opening Doors to Aging Services, says Lubline, “opened my mind to what the future holds, and got me thinking about a brighter day. I remember coming home and feeling rejuvenated about solving problems that we had been experiencing for a while.” Lubline also says that Hooverwood’s new relationships with The Joint Commission and SAGE [Advocacy & Services for LGBTQ+ Elders] were both the result of contacts he made at the Summit.
Julie Trocchio, senior director, community benefit & continuing care for The Catholic Health Association of the United States, Washington, DC, also learned from the Opening Doors session: “The workshop on public perception on aging services was an eye-opener. It reflected on current research and gave practical suggestions.” Trocchio also appreciates the human side of the conference: “The Leadership Summit is the best networking opportunity for aging service providers. Exchanging information and ideas and fellowship: What could be better?”
For Thrash-Sall, who is active in the LeadingAge Leaders of Color Network, the 2022 Leadership Summit was notable for demonstrating the Network’s early success: “We launched the Leaders of Color Network at the Annual Meeting in Atlanta . What it resulted in was more leaders of color than I’ve ever seen showing up at the Leadership Summit. It resonated with me that leaders are saying we need to invest in people of color, making sure they get to this leadership summit, and they were there. And the visibility of it made a tremendous difference.” Thanks to these efforts and the growth of the network, there is a dedicated Leaders of Color Program at the 2023 Summit.
Thrash-Sall also loves the advocacy opportunities: “Last year a lot of legislative staffers actually came over to the hotel and met with us. And that’s always important to me, as a provider, to be able to support LeadingAge and the legislative agenda,” she says. “It gives me an opportunity to [tell] a real story about how these different laws or bills or initiatives will impact real people. And it gives me a chance by proxy to give our residents a voice.”
Sarah Starcher-Lane, COO and executive director at Byron Health Center, Ft. Wayne, IN, also enjoys the advocacy when attending the Summit: “I always like going up on the Hill; I’ve gone probably seven times. I feel like I’m doing something important. Nonprofit organizations, because of the mission we hold, should advocate for residents in a number of ways.”
Dusanka Delovska-Trajkova, chief information officer at Ingleside, Rockville, MD, uses the Summit to keep up with fast-changing developments that affect her work: “I take the opportunity to set up meetings with Ingleside partners and review technology advances. In [this] environment with a scarce workforce, senior living leaders need to get the support of technology to allow employees to focus on meaningful work that technology cannot do.”
Daniel adds, “United Church Homes has advanced its DEI work as a result of resources and expertise presented at the Summit. We also have met technology innovators and incorporated several of their products and services into our own programs.”
For Michelle Norris, EVP for external affairs and strategic initiatives at Ohio-based National Church Residences, “The sessions I attended [in 2022] were engaging and insightful as always. Especially meaningful to me were the sessions involving affordable senior housing, and the ones on affordable senior housing and internet connectivity.”
In short, Lubline says, the Leadership Summit’s energy is his favorite part: “Those three days are great, and if you added a fourth day I’d be all for it. You can feel it right away on Monday: The energy in the room is great. And last year, getting back together after two years away was awesome.”