James Balda, president and CEO of Argentum

James Balda has been on the job as president and CEO of Argentum, formerly the Assisted Living Federation of America, since January 2015. He recently spoke with Senior Editor Lois A. Bowers about the experience so far, and the road ahead.

Q: What kind of feedback have you received on the new name, Argentum?

A: It’s all been positive. We’ve explained to people where the name comes from, the notion that it means silver and the fact that that’s a standard of measure historically. Part of what we’re doing is creating standards for the industry, helping the industry become more professional, so that’s highly relevant. Once you explain it to people, at least in my experience, they seem to get it. But at the end of the day, the name itself is less important than the work we do and, in my conversations with people, that’s what seems to be really ringing true with them.

Q: When the Senior Living 2025 Roadmap was announced earlier this year, after your six-month listening tour, memory care had been added to four previously identified priorities. What was the thinking behind that?

A: We always knew that memory care was going to be a critical issue for the industry. As we started talking to industry, residents and policymakers, memory care just kept bubbling up as an issue that is a critical focus for the industry and the country as a whole, in terms of an emerging long-term care issues.

We decided to pull it out as its own imperative for the industry so that it would be a clear focus for us as we’re developing proposals and programs and services around memory care. We’ve got a memory care track at the conference this year that we’re pretty excited about, and we’ve got some research under way around memory care. I personally think there’s no segment in the long-term care space, or even the healthcare space, that’s better served to care for folks with cognitive decline than senior living.

Q: Will Argentum be making any big announcements at this year’s annual meeting?

A: We’ll be announcing new board members and our officer slate for the following year. We also will be launching a refresh of our magazine. But our announcements will be nothing like last year, when we were talking about branding and standards and credentialing.

Q: Is there anything new to report with the certification commission and its first program, for assisted living community executive directors?

A: We’re on track to have the test available in the third quarter of this year. We’ll be beta-testing in June or July.