Servant Leadership

CEO Focuses on Driving Innovation to Serve the Changing Needs of Older Adults



George Keil, a Marjorie P. Lee resident, has been a friend to Laura Lamb for many years. After all, she has worked in his home since he moved in 10 years ago. They met when George was a driver for Deupree Meals on Wheels. They enjoy catching up in the new Courtyard Lounge that was created during renovations earlier this year.

Photo provided by Episcopal Retirement Services

 

For Laura Lamb, taking risks and innovating comes naturally. It’s likely she inherited her inventive spirit from her grandmother.

“My mom’s mom was my strongest role model,” recalls Lamb, describing her family’s matriarch as a “trailblazer” in the information technology field in the 1970s. And as president and CEO of Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS), one of the region’s largest aging services providers, Lamb has many incredible older adults who inspire her to serve and to give her guidance.

“My role as CEO is doing everything I can to advance the mission of our organization, enriching the lives of those we work with and serve,” says the affable and energetic Lamb. She began her career at ERS (then ERH) 23 years ago as a year-long Xavier University resident intern pursuing a master’s degree in health administration. She has since worn seven different ERS hats, juggling responsibilities that range from strategic planning and business development to finance, technology and continuing care. She served as executive vice president before being named president and CEO in October 2016.

She’s a tireless advocate for inclusion – residents, staff and partners – encouraging every area of the organization to place value on diversity, and foster the person-centered culture that sets ERS apart from the rest.

“It starts with our staff,” says Lamb, who encourages all employees to be involved in the lives of the residents they serve and value the diversity of their co-workers. “Our culture and core values are explicit – we are working in residents’ homes, the residents are not living in our work environment. At ERS, we know that when we create a great place for staff to work, they will create a great place for our residents to live. As CEO, I want to advance that mindset.”

It’s a different mindset than one might find among executives and employees in other industries, she says. But Lamb believes those leading the healthcare/senior living industry’s charge into the current era of growth and change need to keep an open, adaptive and respectful attitude.

“The challenge of our industry today is we have to be different,” she says. “Seniors today do not want to be housed in a hospital. So, we have reinvented our organization to meet the needs of today’s older adults. We must be more person-centered. We need to ask, ‘What does the resident want their aging experience to include, and how will we build around that?’ What our grandparents wanted in retirement is very different from what today’s senior population is planning for.”

Lamb’s life calling – caring for those who once cared for others – is rooted in her love for her family, and she is honored to assume her new role during an exciting time of organizational growth and expansion.

ERS works to improve the lives of older adults from all faiths through innovative, senior lifestyle campuses, and in-home and community-based services delivered by experienced and compassionate professionals. ERS owns or manages 30 senior living communities: three premier communities, Deupree House and Marjorie P. Lee, both in Hyde Park, and Episcopal Church Home in Louisville; and 27 affordable living communities for limited-income seniors. ERS also operates in-home and community-based services, including the Aging Life Care service and Living Well Senior Solutions; delivers 100,000 Meals on Wheels annually; and provides counsel and support to more than 70 churches to renew their role in healthcare through Parish Health Ministry.

Lamb’s hopes and goals spread beyond brick-and-mortar senior housing needs, however.

Eradicating ageism. Ensuring affordable housing for low-income senior citizens. Encouraging Cincinnati’s evolvement into a more dementia-inclusive city. These are but a few of the broader issues ERS is tackling under her leadership.

“We value relationships, inclusion and diversity,” Lamb says. “Our organization has stepped up to build partnerships and lead our city-wide efforts to make our region a great place to live and age. I love that my team and I are encouraged to ask some fundamental questions that challenge the status quo. We must do everything we can to create and maintain a culture that values older adults.”

 

Episcopal Retirement Services is located at 3870 Virginia Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45227. For more information, call 513.271.9610, email info@erslife.org or visit www.episcopalretirement.com.