This spring, I was privileged to participate in the Argentum National Conference in Nashville. The conference was well-attended, and Nashville was a great host city as it always seems to be. You can’t beat the atmosphere (even speaking as someone who is not a big enthusiast of country music), and it’s pretty difficult to beat the barbecue.
One of the key highlights of the meeting for me, however, was the opportunity to get together with more than 40 other state executives from around the country to discuss issues of common interest and concern. Although I have participated in many of the Argentum conferences over the past decade, it has been more than 10 years since I participated in the state executives meeting. The last time that I participated, Paul Willging was CEO, the association was called ALFA (the Assisted Living Federation of America), and I was representing Izzy Firth and LifeSpan because there were some other meetings taking place that required her participation. So it has been a little while, and much has changed.
Some of the topics of conversation for state executives, though, have not changed much over time: policy challenges at the state level related to regulatory issues, waiver issues, and the challenge of providing maximum value to members in the form of effective advocacy and quality educational programs, to name just a few items. The conversations were intelligent, the insights were impressive, and I was reminded how humble I am to be part of this group of executives who care very deeply for their members and their needs.
While I was at the meeting, I had the opportunity to spend some one on one time with one of my colleagues from the Northeast, and another from the Midwest. Both were interested in finding out more about how LifeSpan was able to launch the Beacon Institute, a subject with which I am very familiar. I was invited to speak to their respective boards, and at some point would love to be able to do that and to share the insights that I’ve gained and that we’ve gained. I remember much of it very well. I was reminded in those conversations how wise the then-MANPHA board, along with Izzy, were in forming and structuring the Beacon Institute the way that they did, and how much growth and success has taken place for the association in the intervening 20 years as the result.
This week, I had a conversation with one of LifeSpan’s provider members, who has had some considerable experience with other state associations around the country. She said that LifeSpan is without peer around the country, in terms of its value as an advocacy organization and also in terms of its educational programs through the Beacon Institute and shared service programs through LifeSpan Products and Services. LifeSpan has more staff and more board members than almost any of its peer organizations around the country, and as a result, is able to deliver more educational programs, more networking programs, and more cost-saving opportunities than almost any other. And it doesn’t hurt that the staff and boards are filled with lots of talented people as well.
I was reminded through that conversation this week of my conversations in Nashville with other Argentum state executives, and finding myself very grateful for the opportunity to be part of this amazing organization. LifeSpan is on the cusp of even more growth in the coming years. I’m very much looking forward to being a small part of it!
Kevin Heffner, President, LifeSpan