What do a major zoo, a state run sports commission, and a senior housing and services organization have in common? Answer: a bold leader. The same bold leader.
What do a Republican governor, a Democratic governor, and an Independent governor have in common? (In this day and age, that almost sounds like the start of a bad joke!) Answer: They each appointed that same bold leader to significant administrative posts.
Kathryn Roberts is that person. She is now, and has been since 2003, the CEO and President of Ecumen (http://www.ecumen.org/), one of the most innovative senior care organizations around. She has also turned around the Minnesota Zoo fortunes and run the state sports commission during some tumultuous years. Her list of other accomplishments is long and equally varied.
I had wanted to talk to Kathryn both for this bold leader series and also, selfishly, personally, as I told her, because I have two loved ones in senior care facilities. I am interested in learning as much as I can about the industry and where it’s going, because as a family caregiver, many options today seem rather grim.
Kathryn was generous in sharing on both perspectives, and after about five minutes, it was clear why she is so successful.
She doesn’t mince words. When talking about the industry she’s now in, she says, “It’s wrong. It’s indecent. It’s unethical.” And it leaves her (probably like many of us with elders we care about) with many questions. Here are just a few of hers:
- “How, as a society, did we get here?”
- “Why have we chosen to isolate our seniors? Putting them in dorms on freeway ramps