Transitional Leadership

Thursday, December 20, 2018 2:26 PM | Mitchell Elliott (Administrator)

My final blog as SAGE president will have a “Back to the Future” feel to it.  This approach gives us an opportunity to look back with appreciation, while looking forward with expectation.  Transition and change tend to bring out the best and the worst in all of us.  I will lean into the best!

The end of 2018 marks one of the largest transitions for the SAGE board in recent years.  The term limits outlined in the bylaws are having the greatest impact on this transition as three board members and three officers are finishing their final term this year.  As we look back, I want to express my sincere gratitude for all that these individuals have meant to me and to the SAGE organization.

Charlie Wilson, Executive Vice President at Buckner, has been a consistent champion of SAGE for the past 11 years.  He has served as President, Past President, Vice President and Director during his tenure on the board.  Charlie was always the voice of reason and he represented the perspective of the provider in SAGE. 

Andrew Alden, Senior Planner/Designer at Eppstein Uhen Architects, has been around from the beginning.  He was involved in crafting the first version of the SAGE bylaws in the mid-90s.  Andrew has been integral to the success of the Design Showcase and Renovation/Remodel Competition for most of the lifespan of those two events.  Andrew has served in all of the officer and director roles over the years.  He brought great context to our discussions as we navigated through the SAGE journey.  Andrew finishes his term as secretary this year and we are grateful for his guidance in that role.

Russ McLaughlin, architect with AG Architects, is another Sage of SAGE.  He most recently served as past president, but also led the organization as president, Vice President and treasurer.  Russ steered the SAGE ship through some rough waters and always remained committed to the cause.  He is a champion of the SAGE POE process and has carried that banner for many years.  He was also a key driver in the Design Showcase jury process. 

Teresa Whittington, RN, has served as a director on the board for four years at various times throughout her career.  As a registered nurse and dementia specialist committed to person-centered care, she brought a valuable perspective to SAGE.  Her involvement in many POEs amplified the unique diversity of SAGE.

Alec Sithong, Design Consultant, came on the board five years ago as my “wing man”, serving as Vice President.  He believed when it was difficult to see the future of SAGE.  He was the dreamer who thought we could pull off a reception at Environments for Aging with no admin assistant and no money...and very few members!  Alec was our linkage to Bestbath and was key in nurturing that amazing relationship over the years. 

Fred Worley, former AHJ State of Texas Long Term Care, joined the board six years ago and faithfully represented the regulatory constituency within SAGE.  He has been a champion of person-centered care and the household concepts in long term care.  His perspective on the SAGE POE teams has been invaluable and his sense of humor has been refreshing. 

The challenge of term limits involves the reality of losing experience and history on the board.  Term limits do provide organizations with the opportunity to inject new and fresh perspectives to their cause.  Transition of leadership does allow for a renewed passion to empower the organization.  It enables an organization like SAGE to be sustainable and remain relevant in senior living.  This is why I am excited for the future of SAGE.

As a new director on the board, Tammy Sealer, Chief Administrative Officer for Immanuel Senior Living, will bring her provider perspective to SAGE.  She has a passion for good design and its impact on the business outcomes of senior living.  SAGE has benefited from her involvement in the Design Showcase Jury process in recent years. 

Rob Pfauth, Director of Senior Living Planning at ERDMAN, returns to SAGE as a director on the board.  I would hesitate to use the “Doc” reference from Back to the Future, to describe his role as he is much calmer and more level headed compared to the Christopher Lloyd character.  Rob served as secretary during my early years as president.  He was integral in working through the details of the re-invented SAGE website through those years. 

Larry Schneider, Partner and Senior Living Planner with Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP, is not new to SAGE.  He was very involved in the Wisconsin state Chapter of SAGE when a majority of the membership value was delivered through state organizations.  He has been loyal to the SAGE cause for many years and his involvement in national leadership on the board will expand the influence of his passion for senior living environments. 

Ross Leonard, Vice President of Marketing, Commercial Division at Engineered Floors/J+J Flooring, also brings a passion and unique perspective to the board.  From our initial brainstorming meeting regarding the financial support of SAGE strategic planning, it was evident that Ross's enthusiasm for the mission of SAGE extended beyond his company's flooring expertise.  Ross is a big picture thinker and will bring a strategic thought leadership to the board. 

As I transition from president to past president on the board, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to serve alongside these new directors.  Our current momentum is encouraging and will provide an impetus for future growth and influence.  I am confident the board will continue to rely on all the sages of SAGE to understand the past as we lean into the future.

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