LeadingAge Ohio welcomed over 600 attendees from across the state of Ohio last week for the 2019 LeadingAge Ohio Annual Conference and Trade Show. This year’s theme, “What If”, sought to spark our imagination about what’s possible when we open our minds to dream big, without limits.
The event -- featuring 65 educational sessions and 103 exhibitors -- kicked off at the Hilton Columbus at Easton with an award presentation for Ohio Living, this year’s LeadingAge Ohio Spotlight Award Winner for an organization. LeadingAge Ohio President and CEO Kathryn Brod applauded Ohio Living for its high standards of quality of life for adults through its 13 life plan communities and its home health and hospice operations in 48 Ohio counties.
Brod and LeadingAge Ohio Board Chair Rev. Ken Daniel, CEO of United Church Homes, next began a fun take on the annual business meeting in the form of the $10,000 Pyramid game show. While “climbing the pyramid”, the two contestants went over many of the initiatives and priorities that LeadingAge Ohio focused on over the last year, such as the Careers That Love You Back poster program and our budget objectives. Two new LeadingAge Ohio board members were elected and two board members whose terms were ending were recognized for their many years of service.
Keynote speakers* Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray told their powerful story of friendship overcoming disability and hardship. The story -- which unfolded on a journey across Spain on the Camino de Santiago and is captured in a documentary titled “I’ll Push You” -- describes how Patrick pushed wheelchair-confined Justin along the 500-mile challenging trail. Their stories of friends met along the way and teamwork were well received by the audience. Justin and Patrick left a special message for attendees, which can be viewed here.
*Sponsored by Ziegler and Community Hospice, FAIRHOPE Hospice and Palliative Care, Hospice of Central Ohio, Hospice of Guernsey, Ohio's Hospice of Dayton, Ohio's Hospice LifeCare and Ohio's Hospice of Miami County
After a break for a wide range of education session topics, attendees came back together for the Awards Luncheon, where State Representative Bill Reineke visited to be honored as a LeadingAge Ohio Public Service Award honoree. Rep. Reineke’s workforce contributions and his concern for workforce pressures in aging services made him a clear choice, and he shared heartfelt words to the audience.
The Awards Luncheon continued with winners coming to the stage to accept the Excellence in Caring Award (Nancy Brooks - Otterbein Springboro); the Emerging Leader Award (Billie Daugherty - Ohio Living Breckenridge Village); the Visionary Leadership Award (Amy Kotterman - United Church Homes); and the Heart of Hospice Award (Hospice of Northwest Ohio).
After an afternoon of thoughtful education sessions, the day concluded with the Workforce Reception to recognize member organizations awarded the 2019-2020 Employer of Choice designation and the 2019 LeadingAge Ohio Leadership Academy Fellows, future leaders within LeadingAge Ohio member facilities.
Wednesday began with a selection of enriching education sessions, followed by the LeadingAge Ohio Trade Show & Lunch at which exhibitors from across the country discussed their products and services with the hundreds of attendees, building new business relationships and networking throughout the afternoon.
Wednesday also served as an opportunity for an open viewing of entries in the 26th annual statewide LeadingAge Ohio Art & Writing Show. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winning pieces as well as the "People's Choice" winners from the five 2019 Art & Writing district competitions were entered for the judging of the statewide show. In addition, conference attendees were able to vote for the winner of the state “People’s Choice Award”. Many of the resident artists attended the conference on Wednesday and Thursday to enjoy the Art & Writing Show.
The evening concluded with the popular LeadingAge Ohio Casino Night*, where attendees enjoyed food & beverages, games, and a live DJ; competed for prizes; and, for those who were particularly courageous, participated in competitive “horse racing”.
Thursday morning began with a robust selection of education sessions, including a Town Hall in which LeadingAge Policy Director Ruth Katz and Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran joined to hear members’ insights on state and federal opportunities and challenges. Director Corcoran engaged with LeadingAge Ohio members, discussing topics such as telehealth, home- and community-based services, and strategies for financing long term care. LeadingAge Ohio members enjoyed this opportunity to have a personal, open discussion with Ohio’s top Medicaid official.
Thursday’s General Session* began with our individual Spotlight Award, awarded to United Church Homes’ Chuck Mooney. Chuck was honored as a transformational executive at United Church Homes, leading the complete internal rebuilding of clinical and operational excellence, as well as serving as a mentor for both new and long-time staff members.
Next to the podium was a keynote address by Ron Culbertson, long-time hospice worker, author and humorist/motivational speaker. Culbertson brought his unique sense of humor and powerful message to the session, telling meaningful stories about aging and end-of-life care, the power of being present, and more. His insightful presentation was as impactful to the attendees as it was entertaining.
*Sponsored by Ziegler and L.R. Webber
The Thursday Awards Luncheon began with a recognition of Senator Steve Wilson as a LeadingAge Ohio Public Service Award honoree. Senator Wilson has been a vocal proponent of aging issues and has sponsored legislation to combat elder abuse and shine a spotlight on Alzheimer’s and dementia. Senator Wilson’s acceptance included gracious words about the important work of LeadingAge Ohio member organizations.
LeadingAge Ohio Awards Committee Chair Michele Engelbach then introduced additional presentations for the LeadingAge Ohio annual awards: Excellence in Volunteer Service (George Rooks - Clermont Senior Services); Excellence in the Workplace (Ohio Masonic Home); Excellence in Innovation (Ohio Living’s Culinary Academy); and the Aging Services Impact Award (Episocopal Retirement Services).
A ceremony was also held to honor our LeadingAge Ohio Foundation Clark R. Law Executive Management Scholarship Award Winners. Winners Nabindra Ghimiray, Kylie McGuire, and Lindsey Owens were honored with checks presented by Clark Law’s daughter, Mona Fitzer.
We want to thank everyone who attended for making it such a rewarding opportunity for networking, learning, and fun! Thank you to the leadership of the Professional Development Committee, the Awards Committee, and all of our members who volunteered their time helping the LeadingAge Ohio team. We are tremendously grateful. It’s not too early to mark your calendar for next year’s conference: August 25 - 27, 2020!