Katie Smith Sloan, left, and Kathryn Roberts.

Katie Smith Sloan, who will become LeadingAge’s president and CEO in January, promised to pursue the organization’s mission “with a vengeance” when she addressed the organization’s members during Monday’s annual meeting general session.

“As we anticipate the many changes that will streak across our field—the competitive forces pushing against us, as well as the vast opportunities ahead—our big hearts will need to grow bigger, and more importantly, grow braver, to carry out our mission and expand the world of possibilities for aging,” she told them. “We will need more than a handful of brave hearts willing to chart new waters, take a few calculated risks and help make our world a safe, healthy and vibrant place to grow old.”

Sloan said that, under her leadership, LeadingAge will broaden advocacy efforts, conduct more research and continue to try to influence policy and practice. “In all this and more, LeadingAge will do what our name promises. We will lead,” she said.

Referencing retiring President and CEO Larry Minnix, Sloan concluded: “While I don’t think my feet will grow as president and CEO, I will do everything I can to fill Larry’s big shoes.”

Minnix will be fêted by LeadingAge at Tuesday’s general session.

Sloan was introduced by Kathryn Roberts, who was sworn in as the new chair of the LeadingAge Board of Directors at the session. “She’s a strong leader, a strategic thinker and a calming force in moments of turmoil,” Roberts said of Sloan. “She will no doubt guide LeadingAge into the next era with grace, poise and a clear vision for what’s best for this organization and for all of us.”

A new leader is not the only change facing LeadingAge members, she said. “My company runs nursing homes and assisted living communities, but our strategic plan calls for building our home care business as fast as we possibly can,” said Roberts, president and CEO of Ecumen, Shoreview, MN. “If home is where people want to be, we plan to meet them there. We don’t think baby boomers are going to change their minds.”

As for LeadingAge itself, Roberts said, “Our leadership has and will continue to shape a more informed and rational future regarding issues of aging. Our commitment to innovation, technology and consumer engagement is unequivocal, and our success as an organization depends on how well we execute leadership in these areas.”

General session attendees also heard from author Atul Gawande, M.D., described by outgoing LeadingAge Board of Directors Chair David Gehm as one of the most popular speakers in LeadingAge meeting history. Gawande, who also spoke at LeadingAge’s 2012 annual meeting, told attendees to remember the importance of person-centeredness, especially at the end of life. “Well-being is bigger than your health and your survival,” he said. “I think we’ve lost sight of that.”

The awards presentation continued from Sunday’s opening general session. At Monday’s general session:

  • Grace McDonald, manager of the memory care neighborhood at Bethesda Meadow, Ellisville, MD, received the Joan Anne McHugh Award for Leadership in Long-Term Care Nursing.
  • Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, VA, accepted the Hobart Jackson Cultural Diversity Award.
  • Sandra Massetti, executive vice president and chief healthcare officer for Phoebe Ministries, Allentown, PA, received the Dr. Herbert Shore Outstanding Mentor Award.
  • Still Hopes Episcopal Retirement Community in West Columbia, SC, accepted the Innovation in Care and Services Award.
  • ACT on Alzheimer’s, in Minnesota, won the Public Trust Award.

More 2015 LeadingAge annual meeting coverage:

Life plan community is new name for CCRC

Minnix, mayor, merit: LeadingAge day one