NIC Notes

Insights in Seniors Housing & Care


By: Anne Standish  |  August 21, 2019

Leadership Development, Industry Networking, and Lessons in Advocacy at the 10th Annual NELS Summit

www.nelssummitIn mid-July 2019, I had the pleasure of attending the 10th Annual NELS Summit in Washington, DC. NIC is a proud co-sponsor of the three-day event, where emerging leaders in health and aging services can connect with peers, develop their leadership skills, learn about advocacy, and network with industry leaders. The majority of NELS attendees hold Executive Director or Administrator positions at skilled nursing facilities, assisted living and independent living communities, CCRCs, rehabilitation hospitals, affiliated organizations, and home- and community-based services.

I was struck by the candor, professionalism, and dedication of attendees, organizers, and presenters. Their enthusiasm for improving the lives of residents, staff members, and families was truly moving and representative of the ideals that draw people to careers in health and aging services.

On the first day of the Summit, Dr. Kevin Hansen, Assistant Professor at Bellarmine University, and Director of NELS, introduced the history of NELS, the purpose of the summit, and data from a pre-summit survey. Michael Muetzel, President, Author, Leadership Development at Mx Marketing Management Solutions, provided insight focused on generational differences in the work force and the strategies and benefits of leading diverse teams and creating positive workplace culture. Attendees also shared best practices and perspectives on a range of topics like regulatory environments, staffing pressures like recruitment and retention, and culture in small round table discussions. These presentations and conversations provided attendees with new, practical strategies and ideas they could implement in their communities after the Summit.

On the second day of the Summit, attendees listened to a panel presentation and discussion of NELS alumni moderated by Dr. Douglas Olson, Professor at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, and Senior Advisor for NELS. The panel discussed what NELS meant to them and provided valuable lessons in their journeys in leadership— not only as leaders in their respective organizations, but also in their professional organizations and advocacy efforts.

Liz Liberman, Senior Analyst Manager at Bulletin Intelligence, and Dr. Kevin Hansen discussed legislative policy advocacy. Liberman detailed how NELS attendees and others can comment on potential legislation from the executive branch to make their experiences and voices heard on topics impacting their communities. Hansen also discussed advocacy strategies that NELS attendees can implement with the support of their communities to impact potential legislation. NELS attendees finished the day by traveling to Capitol Hill for a meeting with Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind and his staff.

On the final day of the Summit, attendees met leaders of several major partnering organizations including LeadingAge, Argentum, NAB, ACHA, and ACHCA. The group of leaders presented a panel discussion covering topics including their paths to their current positions, what their respective organizations do and offer members, valuable resources and research for leaders, and current issues affecting health and aging services. Attendees also had the opportunity to speak with leaders in small breakout group sessions to learn more details about their organizations and membership.

Interspersed between the presentations over the three days were group exercises designed to develop attendees’ connections with each other and areas of interest, culminating in final teams. Teams developed ideas for projects for the coming year with the support of Dr. Hansen, Dr. Olson, Mr. Muetzel, Dr. Keith Knapp, Associate Professor, Bellarmine University, and Lindsey Creapeau, HCAD Practicum Coordinator, Health Care Administration Program at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. The attendees of this year’s summit will work in teams throughout the year on the projects— all with the goal of “developing solutions to enrich lives.” Summit proceedings, outcomes, and key conclusions from each year are published in a white paper that is available for download on the NELS website.

If you are interested in attending or know someone you think would be a good candidate, applications for the 2020 NELS Summit will be open on starting in the Spring. We highly encourage you to send your best and brightest to this excellent opportunity for leadership and professional development in 2020