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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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A Time for Gratitude

Posted By Julianna Ems, Thursday, December 27, 2018

As we near the end of 2018, the holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on things we are grateful for. We’ve had another busy year at LeadingAge Texas in a number of areas including advocacy, professional development, networking, and shared learning. Our members continue to do tremendous things for their residents, many of which have been shared and celebrated within the membership on The Connection and on social media.

I urge all of you to reflect on this past year and savor the special moments and relationships you hold most dear. Make sure those individuals (particularly those who don’t regularly get recognition), know how grateful you are for their service and commitment to our field.

Many challenges lie ahead in 2019 inc­luding a major change in Medicare payment, changing consumer demands, workforce shortages, regulatory issues – you know the list. But we also know that we can deal with these challenges better together than we can individually. I encourage you to continue taking advantage of the resources, comradery, and support our association provides. We’ve got some outstanding programs already on the calendar including the Leadership Conference in February, our 60th Annual Conference in May, and an array of webinars coming up almost every month. Plus, network meetings around the state will kick off in March.

To the LeadingAge Texas and EIA Board members, my staff and I thank you for your dedication in making sure that member needs are addressed through our programs and educational offerings. To the many members who serve on committees, task forces, peer groups, are involved in advocacy and involved in other ways, we are grateful for your involvement.

To all the other members, our sincere appreciation for your support of LeadingAge Texas and the pride you hold for the work you do in your communities.

Lastly, I would like to thank the LeadingAge Texas staff who continue to do a remarkable job in making those programs, products and services come to life and helping you deal with the many issues you face daily.

On behalf of our board, our volunteers, and our staff we hope this holiday season is an exceptionally good and safe one and that the New Year brings you much health, happiness, and prosperity.


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

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It All Starts with Good Governance – Succession Planning

Posted By Amanda Wiedenfeld, Thursday, February 15, 2018

As an association we often tout the “not-for-profit difference.” We are proud of generally having better quality aging services in our state. Obviously, a major element of that difference is our orientation of being a part of the community at-large, reinvesting net margins back into the organization, and being governed by a volunteer board of directors.

A well-functioning board does not happen by chance – it takes hard work, patience, education, and resources to create and sustain. Boards and CEOs need to form a partnership based on common values and trust. Roles and responsibilities need to be spelled out so that boards spend their time and energy on strategic concepts and not on specific operations and micromanaging.

The primary responsibility of a board is the selection and support of the chief executive. Another responsibility is looking internally at the board itself. Do you have the right mix of individuals around the table? There has been a lot of churn happening (and continuing to happen) in our field. Many CEOs are retiring or close to retiring. It is getting more difficult to recruit new volunteer board members. It is clearer now more that ever that focusing on succession planning is an imperative.

When we think of succession planning, often we limit the scope to the CEO position. We must broaden our thinking. As we learn in the book Governance as Leadership, boards operating in all three modes of governance – fiduciary, strategic and generative – have a leadership role within an organization. Leveraging their talents to offer insight and wisdom in a way that furthers the organization’s mission is key.

Therefore, when thinking about succession planning, consider positions beyond the CEO. Focus on developing bench strength and understanding the talents needed at the board table as well. Exceptional organizations give time and energy to create a comprehensive plan for staff leadership development, emergency transitions, and planned turnover.

We are sharing articles, tools and templates to support your organization’s leadership transition planning.



Remember that good governance does not happen by chance. We hope these resources will help guide your respective boards!

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

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2017 Holiday Message

Posted By Dorothy Ferrick, Thursday, December 21, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, December 19, 2017

As another year draws to a close most of you are in the midst of preparations for this festive season. This is a very special time of the year as it gives people a break from the hustle and bustle of our everyday work schedules, providing many of us with time to enjoy the company of family and friends that is all too often missed during the rest of the year. I urge each and every one of you to reflect on these special moments and savor the relationships you hold most dear. At that same time, while keeping with the spirit of this joyous season, it is equally important to consider those who are struggling with health and other issues and keep them in our thoughts and our prayers.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at LeadingAge Texas for the tremendous effort they put in day in and day out to ensure that our members are well taken care of. Many of the demands placed on our staff go unseen, but their work is greatly appreciated.

To the LeadingAge Texas and EIA Board members, my staff and I thank you for your dedication to the success of our association and for your tremendous input to the proper governance of our organization. I also wish to acknowledge the participation of those who serve on our committees and peer groups, those involved in advocacy efforts, and all other involved members. Your commitment and endless hours of volunteer time to make sure members are provided with opportunities to continue learning, to network and socialize with other aging services and housing professionals is most appreciated.

Lastly, to all the members, my sincere appreciation for your support of LeadingAge Texas and the pride you hold for the work you do in your communities. It is truly an honor for me and all of the staff to serve you.

On behalf of our board, our volunteers, and our staff we hope this holiday season is an exceptionally good and safe one and that the New Year brings you much health, happiness, and prosperity.

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

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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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