This will mark my final President’s column for the FHCA Pulse. In July, I’ll hand over the gavel at Annual Conference, marking an end to my term as President. I can’t help but reflect on how my involvement with FHCA will come full circle at Annual Conference, for it was at The Diplomat in Hollywood back in 2005 that FHCA President Dion Sena challenged me to get off the sidelines and get into the game by taking on a more active leadership role with FHCA. I was nervous, unsure if I could balance my time as an administrator with being an engaged volunteer leader. I began the adventure slowly, first by chairing committees then serving as president of District IX in Jacksonville. I eventually made my way up the ladder to leadership and held various positions on FHCA’s Executive Committee before ultimately becoming your President in 2016.
I had no idea what was in store for me, but I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Being active in my district pushed me to become more engaged with the Legislature, and walking the halls of the Capitol with FHCA Chief Lobbyist Bob Asztalos was an eye-opening experience about just how important it was for us to tell our stories, first hand, to those who are making decisions about our profession.
Lobby Wednesdays were just taking off, and nursing centers were the unfortunate low-hanging fruit when it came to how we were funded (or rather, were not) in the state budget. Our legislative success is now balanced by the recognition we’re earning nationally for our leadership in delivering high-quality care. We are unified in our messages and have earned the respect of lawmakers and regulators, both in Florida and in Washington, DC.
We have more members actively participating on committees, councils, task forces and leadership training programs than ever before. And our educational programming is top notch, giving members a significant return on their investment when it comes to events like Annual Conference, regional trainings and other professional development opportunities.
Just before I end my term, I’ll have the privilege of cutting the ribbon for FHCA’s new Education and Training Center. The vision of so many past presidents and other volunteer leaders who came before me will finally come to fruition in July when the expansion of our headquarters opens for business. The July opening will be one of many opportunities for members to walk the space and come together under one roof to learn, network, advocate and celebrate in Tallahassee. I can’t wait for each and every one of you to experience it.
Since that challenge from Dion in 2005, we have evolved as an Association – one that is truly member-driven, and I believe it’s because of the transparency in how we communicate and the opportunities that FHCA affords every one of us. There is always a way to share your feedback, get involved and make a difference in the work we do.
If no one has ever asked or challenged you to get involved, then I’m challenging you now. If you ever questioned whether you have the time or talent, I’m telling you that you do. We all have something to contribute to the success of this incredible Association, and what you give or receive will be so much more than you can imagine.
I’m thankful to my Board of Directors, the FHCA staff and all the members for giving me the opportunity to serve as your President for the past two years. It has been an incredible journey, and though my term is ending I don’t plan to close the chapter on this book just yet. I am excited to head back to south Florida in July to celebrate with you in the place it all began, and I look forward to seeing what the next set of FHCA leaders have planned.