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The "Message from George" blog features association news and highlights from the field of aging services. Blogger: George Linial, President & CEO


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Message from George: The Spirit of LeadingAge Texas Members Shines through Adversity

Posted By Amanda Wiedenfeld, Thursday, August 31, 2017

This week, Southeast Texas experienced perhaps the worst storm of this century if not longer. LeadingAge Texas members throughout the region implemented emergency preparedness procedures, some evacuated, some sheltered in place – all while keeping their residents safe and secure. It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine living through a hurricane, let alone a storm responsible for dumping 50+ inches of rain in only a matter of days.

The LeadingAge Staff and I have reached out our members in the affected region and, after being in touch with the majority of them, we are happy to report that most communities are intact, though many have water damage. The best news is that there was no loss of life among the thousands of senior Texans served by our members.

The sheer dedication of staff, many of whom stayed with residents for four to five days straight, is noteworthy. At some communities, because they had no way in or out, staff pulled multiple shifts, slept in shifts, and did “whatever it took” to carry on and “make things work.” It is remarkable how seemingly everyone simply pitched in wherever and whenever they were needed – it turns out that the executive director of one member community missed our call because he was pitching in with washing dishes. We will undoubtedly have countless stories to tell about many of our remarkable members who did “whatever it took” to make it through the worst of Harvey and its aftermath.

With all the uplifting stories we have heard from members, they have also shared stories of tragedy - many staff, the selfless individuals who serve our seniors, are suffering from their homes being seriously damaged, and even some have no livable dwelling place to which they can return. Yet, in the midst of receiving that news and living in the space of the unknown, those staff continued to wholeheartedly serve their residents.

SO, HOW CAN YOU HELP? It’s simple – DONATE. LeadingAge, our national partner, has set up a Hurricane Harvey Disaster Fund to aid those affected. LeadingAge members, both communities and business members, have been reaching out nonstop to inquire about helping. Donations have been rolling in and a mechanism for distributing the funds is being developed. A significant portion of these donated funds will go toward helping staff rebuild and recover from Harvey’s destruction.

What stands out through all our communications with members is that their first response to us is that their residents are safe and comfortable. They have all been remarkably positive about their situations, yet concerned about the welfare of their staff. All this positive spirit while their own homes, families, and other loved ones have been affected.

In times like these, we can clearly see the true dedication and “calling” that drove our members to the field of not-for-profit aging services. If ever there was a mass example of “servant leadership” at its finest, this would be the prime case!

AFFECTED COMMUNITIES - visit and fill out our quick survey to let us know about your needs & how Harvey has affected your community, residents & staffl. With specific needs, contact us at (512) 467-2242.

George Linial, CAE, CASP
President & CEO, LeadingAge Texas

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Special Thanks to our Advocacy Members

Posted By Dorothy Ferrick, Friday, February 3, 2017
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2017

This past Monday and Tuesday, we had a significant number of LeadingAge Texas members, nursing students, and business members who came to the Texas State Capitol and advocated for issues affecting you & your organizations: medicaid reimbursement, regulatory changes, housing with services, and tort reform, just to name a few.

LeadingAge Texas' Director of Public Policy, Alyse Meyer, and our lobbyist David Thomason are regularly at the Capitol meeting with staff and legislators informing and educating them about the importance of our issues. But nothing compares to the impact of legislators and staff meeting constituents and other Texans - those who can share genuine stories about how governmental funding and policies affect the way they can house and care for the seniors in their communities. I noted that several members who were at the Capitol were able to schedule with legislators and/or staff to come and see their communities. Legislators may forget a meeting at the Capital, but the memory of seeing your community will stick with them.

It was a crazy day at the Capital with many groups there, hearings going on and the governor giving an address to the state. Some LeadingAge Texas members were even able to sit in the gallery and see the “State of the State” address by Governor Abbott.
I want to thank all those who were able to make the trip and dedicate their time to Austin this week. While we had a very successful Capitol Day, I must remind you that advocacy is not a one time shot. We will be calling on many of you to help us contact legislative offices over the next few months. Stay alert and engaged – you make a big difference!

In addition, I provided testimony on behalf of the membership to the Texas Senate Committee on Finance Article II - Health & Human Services - click here to read.

George Linial, CAE, CASP
President & CEO, LeadingAge Texas

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2016 Holiday Message

Posted By Amanda Wiedenfeld, Thursday, December 15, 2016
With the holiday season in full swing and 2016 coming to a close, I want to thank you for your continued support of LeadingAge Texas. The membership's collective involvement and investment in your association has helped it grow into a world-class organization. It is truly an honor for me and all of the staff to serve you.

During this season of reflection, join me in looking back on our organization’s year - one marked by our continuing commitment to serve our membership in advocacy, education, networking, resources, group purchasing, and more.

A major focus throughout the year has been rethinking how we pay for long-term care services and supports in the future. We’ve been examining the economic, social, and environmental issues that are changing senior living, examining the ramifications for our field, and how to prepare for change. We have held three “conversations” with stakeholders who understand that something must be done to improve long-term care financing and recognize that our present system is unsustainable.

Thanks to each of you & your involvement & input, LeadingAge Texas is a trusted and respected force at the Capitol and around the state. With your help, we ensure that as our organization grows, it remains the voice for quality aging services.

Our Annual Meeting in Dallas brought over 400 of you together to share stories, renew friendships, and gain valuable connections with your peers around the state, all while learning from experts on a variety of subjects. Keep in mind that our annual Leadership Conference (February 15-17) is a great opportunity to continue connecting with your fellow aging services colleagues.

Speaking of leadership, our Leadership Institute is going to graduate its eighth class in May! When applications for the ninth class open in February, I urge you to nominate both upcoming and seasoned leaders in your organization.

LeadingAge Texas continues to lead the nation in group purchasing. If you have purchasing needs in food, medical supplies, office supplies, construction, or any other spending, we can help you save - simply contact Kevin Simpson!

But enough about us. The real heroes are all of you who provide care and housing for thousands of senior Texans. The impact that you have on the lives of your residents and their families cannot be calculated. I am so proud of the fact that we continue the vision of our founders—the care of the elderly and disabled is an important responsibility that we all share—a philosophy that is engendered throughout your communities.

There is no doubt that maintaining quality care and housing services is hard work & requires a true commitment. We see that. We see that in you. We salute you & truly appreciate all you do for others.

As much as we reflect during this holiday season, we also look ahead to the new year with anticipation & excitement about new possibilities. With that in mind, please consider furthering your commitment to this thriving association by participating in…

Well, you get the picture...your support & involvement can help turn big ideas and bold visions into reality. So, join us as we tackle 2017 with a Power of Purpose!

Best wishes for a healthy, prosperous new year!

George Linial, CAE, CASP
President & CEO, LeadingAge Texas

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Elmo Fischer Honored at EdenHill Communities

Posted By Amanda Wiedenfeld, Thursday, October 27, 2016

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to pay tribute to one of the “founding fathers” of our association – Elmo Fischer.

EdenHill Communities, where Fischer served as the organization's first professional administrator (1961-1968) and and where he spent the last years of his life, had a ceremony where they unveiled a plaque (pictured left) in his honor during their Altenheim Day Celebration (for those who are unfamiliar, Altenheim is the German word for "Elder’s Home" & served as the original name of EdenHill at its conception in 1910).

Residents, staff, and other community members dressed up in 1910 garb and recreated a wagon train procession where farm goods were brought to the EdenHill Chapel (pictured below). Part of the ceremony at the chapel was a salute and thanks to Chaplains, Church affiliations, Administrators/CEOs, Volunteers, Board members, and Donors.

The final salute was given to Elmo Fischer for his contributions to EdenHill and his advancement of senior care in Texas and nationally. In the midst of the community of EdenHill & Elmo Fischer's family who drove in from Houston, I was privileged & honored to say a few words about his legacy at LeadingAge Texas.

While serving as the first full-time executive director of Texas Association of Homes for the Aging (former name of our association) from 1969 through 1973, Fischer established many of the programs and philosophies that still remain as pillars of our association. He established our advocacy program - a primary function of our enterprise; broke the state into regions so that members could meet with their peers in their areas to share stories and best practices (before we actually called it that!); saw the need to protect not-for-profit status in the state and nationally; preached about the need for quality and sufficient regulation in a field where those concepts had not existed; was instrumental in establishing university level training for the field; and he advocated strongly for adequate funding for aging services – something we continue to fight for over 40 years later!

I urge you to read his memoir - a fascinating journey of a man who remained true to his principles and became a foundational figure in our field.

I have an old photograph of Fischer which hangs outside my office - a reminder to thank those who paved a path. I think this is particularly the case in not-for-profits where our organizations outlive most of us (EdenHill has been around since 1910 and it is not our member with the most longevity!).

George Linial, CAE, CASP
President & CEO, LeadingAge Texas

Photos: 1) photo of a replica of the plaque to honor Elmo Fischer; 2) forefront: Paul Neilson, Chairman of EdenHill's Board of Directors, Janice Howland carrying the pot of potatoes & Don Howland; background (on wagon) members of the honorary Wagon Welcome Committee.

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Leadership Matters.

Posted By George Linial, Thursday, January 7, 2016

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things.
He is the one that gets people to do the greatest things.”

- Ronald Reagan
(60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace, 1975)

When you take stock of your organization, I am sure you can easily identify leaders among your staff and volunteers who are doing significant things that make your community thrive. This year, I encourage you to work alongside LeadingAge Texas in recognizing and building up your organization’s leaders (existing and rising).

2016 Awards Program
Extended Nomination Deadline: January 19

 Our Awards Program gives you an opportunity to acknowledge your staff and volunteers for the outstanding jobs they do in making your community stand out among others in your area. This year, we have broadened our categories allowing you the opportunity to nominate virtually any one of your staff that deserves some appreciation. Not only is this appreciation nice for the recipient, but also it may motivate others to do some exceptional things. I know I always come away from our awards luncheon more inspired by the marvelous accomplishments of members’ staff and volunteers. The deadline is coming up, so don’t delay in getting in your nominations!

2016 Leadership Conference
February 15-17 | Horseshoe Bay
DARING TO DRIVE FORWARD: An Executive Team Road Trip

Next month, we are stepping out of our familiar rustic setting in New Braunfels to kick back at a picturesque lakeside retreat in Horseshoe Bay for our annual Leadership Conference. With renowned speaker, Bill Zipp, as this year’s conference facilitator and with engaging sessions in a peer-centered environment, this all-inclusive, three-day leadership retreat will help make sure you and your entire team are Daring to Drive Forward and set to arrive at your organization’s optimal destination.

Join us as we navigate through practical topics—like the Habits of Effective Executive Teams and When Talk Gets Tough—to program your leadership team’s GPS in a purposeful direction.

Register by January 22 to secure your space and your discounted registration rate!

2016-17 Leadership Institute
Accepting Applications in Mid-February

The 2016-17 Leadership Institute will open for applications in mid-February. This leadership program is a proven success and has trained scores of outstanding present and future leaders in our field. You know there are people in your staff who are looking for opportunities to improve their knowledge and advance their career. What better place to look for the future leadership of aging services than within your staff? Experience has shown us that virtually every person who has graduated from the Leadership Institute has been promoted at least once and many have moved to executive leadership positions within their organizations.

The application process will open soon, as the next installment of the program will begin in June. So, stay tuned to your inbox and for more information on the upcoming LeadingAge Texas Leadership Institute. I urge you to encourage at least one individual from your organization to apply for this program.

Along with the abovementioned Ronald Reagan quote fresh in your mind, I’d like to draw your attention to another quote from famed business writer Orrin Woodward: “Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar."

So, whether it is by acknowledging great staff and volunteers, or by involving staff in leadership training, LeadingAge Texas wants to walk with you in inspiring others to raise their expectations about their own leadership, service, and commitment to Senior Texans.

Happy New Year and Best Wishes to All,

George Linial, CAE, CASP
President & CEO, LeadingAge Texas

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During the Holiday Season – Thank Your Staff

Posted By George Linial, Thursday, December 3, 2015

At a recent conference, I learned that the US will have to replace 1.3 million caregivers over the next eight years! Isn’t that a startling number? The people who spend their time caring for residents are rapidly approaching to retirement age. I don’t have to tell you how hard it is to find staff who feel that aging services is their true calling and possess the energy and compassion our field and our residents deserve.

Similarly, across the country, nearly half of all nurses are over 50* and shockingly, 64 percent of nurses over 54 plan to retire within the next three years.

So, in addition to taking the lead on the usual policy discussions, our communities must act to address the growing staff shortage issue:

  • Provide career paths**, not just job opportunities.
  • Pay competitively – tough in many cases because of budget restrictions, but continue to be creative.
  • Remember that culture change does make a difference among staff and residents. Having staff take greater ownership of their jobs encourages loyalty and quality care.
  • Train, re-train, and train again. It is particularly important to train managers and supervisors to lead well**. The most common reason for high attrition is supervisory mismanagement.
  • Last, but certainly not least, staff should feel appreciated. They are the face of your organization and their feeling valued will enhance your community’s culture.

So during this holiday season, the time of year when giving thanks and appreciation is routinely done in numerous ways, be sure to show your staff how much they are valued** by you and your community.

On behalf of the LeadingAge Texas staff (highly valued!), we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and a joyous New Year!

George Linial, CAE, CASP
President & CEO, LeadingAge Texas

*according to AMN Healthcare and its Center for the Advancement of Healthcare Professionals
**hyperlinks to LeadingAge Texas programs:
  - Career Center
     - Leadership Institute
     - Awards Program - Nomination period for 2016 opening soon!

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The Importance of Participating

Posted By George Linial, Thursday, July 16, 2015

OK, you are probably getting tired of being asked to participate in so many things—from groups at work, church committees, service clubs, marketing surveys, phone surveys, your association’s peer groups, committees and task forces, school boards, PTA, neighborhood clubs, online communities—the list goes on and on...

Now, I’d like you to consider at least some of the benefits of participating as you try to prioritize where to spend your time:

  • Participating can improve your leadership skills – either through observing others or by being in a leadership position yourself, you can generally improve your skills as a leader – and those skills can be transferable to many aspects of your life, both personally and professionally. I have witnessed many people grow their leadership skills through volunteerism.
  • Participating gives you an opportunity to learn things. The more groups you are in, the more information you are exposed to and can learn from. Thinking particularly about peer networks, you can often find solutions to issues you have been struggling with.
  • Participating can improve your networks. The more groups you are exposed to, the greater your chance of finding others who share your passion (no matter what that is). Through these networks, you can sustain and increase your own passion(s).
  • Participating can give you access to important information. Many surveys (like the current Compensation Survey) give you free results or results at a reduced fee because of your participation. Those results can let you know how you or your organization is doing in relation to your peers.
  • Participating helps others. In the not-for-profit world, we rely heavily on volunteerism for our respective missions. Think about the millions of people helped by not-for-profit organizations who would basically cease to exist were it not for people participating in their cause.
  • Participating gives you a different perspective. Through my rotary club, I deliver Meals on Wheels once a month. While it only takes an hour a month, it gives me a better perspective of the struggles that aging services and housing organizations, and particularly their residents, face. It provides motivation for the work we do as an association.
  • Participating can ultimately improve your success. Isolation gets you nowhere. Think about anyone who is successful – if they did it without help from others and participating in groups, they are a rare breed.

Of course, these thoughts preface our need as an association for members to participate. Our peer groups, committees, and task forces are in continual need of more members to join and be active participants. Our new association management system even gives peers a great opportunity to interact online.

Outside of peer-based groups, we also occasionally have surveys (like the current Compensation Survey) that require member participation in order to give you and others access to valuable information.

So, before you dismiss an invitation to participate, think about how it will positively affect you and your organization. While these voluntary activities may take time away from your day-to-day work activities (albeit a relatively small amount of time), ultimately your involvement in LeadingAge Texas will help you in your efforts of assisting those your organization works to serve.

Wishing you much success!

George Linial, CAE, CASP
President & CEO, LeadingAge Texas

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Time to Nurture Others in Their Careers in Aging Services

Posted By George Linial, Thursday, April 9, 2015

Our nation is currently in the midst of Careers in Aging Week. In celebration of this annual event, Texas State University held a panel about job and career opportunities in aging services at which I was asked to speak. The good news is that the room was too small – there were about 50 students who showed up wondering about career opportunities in the aging services field. The students expressed genuine interest in the field and asked lots of questions about how to start working with seniors.

I hope many of these students, and other dedicated and inquisitive individuals like them, decide to work in our field. But their journey won’t stop there. Once they start working, these individuals will need guidance and nurturing along the way. We don’t develop leaders by accident – we have to be intentional. Providing educational opportunities, mentoring, stretching people’s comfort zones, giving staff a wide array of experiences, cross-training, in-service workshops, staff retreats, and setting high expectations are just some of the ways you are building your staff acumen.

LeadingAge Texas is currently offering opportunities for you to cultivate the potential of your community’s best and brightest:

  • Leadership Institute: This program provides your rising stars and veteran staff with a tremendous opportunity for leadership development and professional growth. Ask any of the LeadingAge Alumni from the first six classes and they can tell you how it has improved their leadership skills, enlightened their perspective on the field, broadened their professional network, and sharpened their management skills. Everyone who has graduated from the program has enhanced their leadership abilites.
  • Scholarships: Urge your staff to apply for a scholarship to attend the upcoming Annual Meeting & Trade Show! These scholarships are meant for individuals who ordinarily wouldn’t come to the conference or are first time attendees. Next month’s conference offers boundless opportunities for attendees to experience education, networking, and discovering new possibilities - be sure your staff doesn’t miss out!

Don’t miss out on these opportunities to nurture your staff!

Thank you for dedicating your career to aging services. Tell us how you’re celebrating Careers in Aging Week on our Facebook page!

George Linial, CAE, CASP
President & CEO, LeadingAge Texas

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The Power of Volunteerism

Posted By George Linial, Thursday, January 29, 2015

Having just attended our very successful Public Policy Workshop and Capitol Day (my seventh!), I am always so grateful of the level of volunteer service our members exhibit. LeadingAge Texas members visited with nearly 80 legislative offices at the Capitol this week. In a field that is so intertwined with government regulation and funding, this is a very important function that your colleagues undertook and we should all be thankful for their efforts.

I was also pleased that we had almost 30 nursing students attend our Public Policy Workshop on Sunday. In a field that so desperately needs qualified and dedicated people to serve, exposing students to the issues surrounding the field was a valuable teaching moment.

Chris Traylor, Deputy Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, told the group that developing relationships with legislative offices is critical now and sets the stage for future legislative sessions. Nearly 40 percent of legislators are in their first or second term - an astounding number of people who are not well educated on the issues facing senior living and long-term care. Most do not know how much our field relies on government for funding and regulation.

We can only achieve our goals if we stick together and come forward as one group – linked with a common vision of improving care and housing for elder Texans.

So I join the rest of the membership in applauding those who took time out of their busy schedules to come down to the Capitol, meet with legislators and their staff, and tell their story in order to humanize the policies that will be discussed in the coming weeks.

This, like all legislative sessions, will be challenging. Please refer to our legislative agenda to see all the things for which we are advocating. I urge all of you to become involved particularly, over the next few months:

Your colleagues will be grateful for your volunteerism!

George Linial, CAE, CASP
President & CEO, LeadingAge Texas

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LeadingAge Texas 2015 Resolutions

Posted By George Linial, Thursday, January 8, 2015

Each January people set goals for themselves - commonly known as resolutions. While many resolutions end up being dropped, folks often make progress on others. Although most resolutions focus on personal issues, let me suggest some potential professional and organizational options in addition to the personal resolutions for the coming year:


Volunteerism provides great opportunities for professional growth. Whether you connect with your church, a local service organization, your professional association or another group, volunteerism gives you a chance to practice your leadership skills and other management skills, all while contributing to your community or association.

Staff Development

We are in a field that relies heavily on staff, and if staff is our most necessary resource, then investing in staff makes good business sense! Most organizations spend less than 1% of their budget on staff education. Numerous organizations, including LeadingAge Texas, offer a variety of professional development opportunities along with scholarship options for those who have tight budgets.


Plan to network more with your colleagues in Texas and nationally. As you know, most ideas for improving your organization and your work don’t just come spontaneously – they are a result of exchanges between you and your fellow professionals. Be on the lookout for more information about our upcoming spring network meetings and our annual conference, both great options to meet with your peers.


Look for opportunities to collaborate. This is a new age and partnering with others often leads to market advantage and cost savings.


Participate in surveys. Increasingly, aging services organizations are becoming more data-driven. Filling out surveys, while tedious, can give you great benchmarking data to improve your operations. This data is going to be used in the future for payment enhancements, so get used to benchmarking – it is here to stay!


Increase your advocacy efforts. Advocacy matters much in our field - we are heavily regulated and rely on government for much of our funding. There are dramatic changes taking place in the aging services field and only by advocating for policies that are beneficial to us and our consumers, can we expect better results. Contact Alyse Meyer, our Director of Public Policy, for more information about how you can become involved in our advocacy efforts, including becoming a Key Contact for your community.

Register today for our upcoming Public Policy Workshop & Capitol Day on January 25-26!

Staff Recognition

Value your staff. We all know that an excellent staff makes all the difference in our field. So if staff is one of your organization’s greatest assets, then act accordingly.
Spend time and resources to develop their skills, acknowledge their talents through awards (plan to nominate them for the 2016 LeadingAge Texas Award Program) and
other recognitions. Most of all, simply find ways to show appreciation for the work they do.


Take steps to be a better leader. One of the best ways to develop leadership skills is
to volunteer (see #1) for leadership positions (your association provides great opportunities for that.) Chairing a committee or being a project lead gives you valuable leadership experience that will translate into other aspects of your career. Needless to say, being well-informed on the issues affecting your organization is necessary to lead in today’s times.

Register today for our upcoming annual Leadership Conference: "Energizing your Personal and Professional Presence” in February!

Be Informed

As has been stated often, we are in an age of dramatic and rapid change. We need to stay on top of issues and trends if we want to survive, let alone thrive in the future. Read the newsletter, attend educational programs, attend networking meetings, and call your colleagues to discuss how they are dealing with change.

Be Healthy

Maintaining your health and the health of your staff is important so you can be effective in your work. Find ways to get grounded and stay balanced with vacation, quiet time, outside interests, exercise, and a healthy diet.

This list is by no means complete. Help me add to it by leaving a comment below - I would be very interested in hearing some of your professional resolutions for 2015.

Wishing you a prosperous and healthy 2015!!


George Linial, CAE, CASP
President & CEO, LeadingAge Texas

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