Incoming ALFA President and CEO James Balda

The Assisted Living Federation of America has selected James Balda as its new president and chief executive officer. He will assume the leadership role in mid-January, ALFA announced this morning.

“I’m incredibly excited and energized by the opportunity,” Balda told McKnight’s in a phone interview. “I’m excited about where the industry is going and where it wants to go, in terms of self-regulation and standard setting. I look forward to working with the members to help them enhance the care they give seniors and help the industry grow.”

Balda comes to ALFA from the National Restaurant Association, where he was senior vice president of innovation and business development. He sees a strong link between hospitality and senior living, in terms of ensuring “standards around service” for maximum quality of life, he told McKnight’s.

Balda takes the helm at ALFA as the organization is going through rebranding and other makeover efforts. Forging stronger partnerships with state chapters is one of the main priorities of the “new ALFA,” Chairwoman Brenda Bacon told McKnight’s. Balda’s background in working at the state level makes him a strong fit for the organization, she said. Bacon also cited Balda’s expertise in growing an organization and hands-on experience with credentialing and standards. In addition, he has “the gravitas” to represent the industry, she noted.

Balda’s predecessor, Rick Grimes, served for a decade and announced his retirement in June. Maribeth Bersani, senior vice president of public policy, has acted as interim CEO.

This article originally appeared on McKnight's