LeadingAge Magazine · September-October 2017 • Volume 07 • Number 05
Gene Mitchell
Gene Mitchell

Polaris, a.k.a., the North Star, sits almost directly above the North Pole, which accounts for its navigational value to countless generations of mariners.

For those who serve on the boards of LeadingAge members, mission fills a familiar role. As Michelle Bohreer, one of the board members we interviewed for this issue, told me, “I see mission as the benchmark for every decision; when our board is deciding to move in a certain direction or considering a certain kind of action, I put the mission in front of me and get myself comfortable that that action is consistent with our mission.”

Our Vision column, “Mission, Strategy and Building Better Boards,” is an interview with Cathy Trower, who is not only an author and governance consultant, but also serves on the board of a LeadingAge member. She expands on several of the governance trends that come up repeatedly in this issue: the movement toward smaller boards; a growing emphasis on boards that are more diverse, in every meaning of that word; a greater focus on strategy; and more attention being paid to the boundaries between board responsibilities and management responsibilities.

In keeping with the recruitment focus, read “Recruiting Your Next Great Board Member” to see how providers are casting a wider net to attract board members from many walks of life and with wide-ranging skills, all with a goal of more creative, strategic governance.

One topic of great interest to me is how organizations change, either through a proactive commitment to ensure a better future, or because they face threats that require change for survival. Two of our articles, “Governance Meets Mergers and Affiliations” and “The Board’s Role in Repositioning,” examine change through a governance lens. How do boards make affiliations or repositionings happen, and what uncomfortable questions must trustees face in the process?

Those uncomfortable questions often lead beyond the task at hand, resulting in significant changes to the boards themselves, and the way they operate. We interviewed 3 governance experts for their take on how to know when a board needs to rethink itself. Read “Is a Board Restructuring in Your Future?

Speaking of uncomfortable change, another of our articles tells the story of one LeadingAge member that has made, out of necessity, dramatic organizational and governance changes in recent years. Read “Organizational Overhaul: Governing Through Major Change” for a look at how this member, which has more lines of service than most providers, has remade itself and its board.

Managing Leadership Succession” deals with an evergreen governance topic that is on the minds of many members, given the number of CEO retirements our field is experiencing.

Built for Performance: Seeking Efficiency and Engagement From the Board” looks at how one member is taking steps to make an already good situation better, by proactively reconfiguring its board structures.

As we have always done in our September/October issues, we are showcasing the winners of this year’s LeadingAge Awards. Read “Meet the 2017 LeadingAge National Award Winners” to learn about the selfless and innovative work of these members.

We have a member-written feature, “Bringing Lean Management Principles to Skilled Nursing.” Read about how this provider incorporated Lean management principles to 5 nursing homes, with encouraging results.

Finally, our “People We Serve” series keeps steaming along, giving our members an opportunity to tell their residents, clients and employees’ stories. Read “Refugees, Musicians and Volunteers: These are the People We Serve.” We’re always looking for more stories for this series. If you’ve never contributed the stories of your remarkable residents or employees to this series, please do so! Contact me at gmitchell@leadingage.org or 202-508-9424.

Gene Mitchell is editor of LeadingAge magazine.