Incoming Leader has a Passion for Serving Seniors

Incoming Leader has a Passion for Serving Seniors

November 15, 2016

When Anne Thomas was a 16-year-old girl living in White Plains, New York, she started saving money for college, working after school as a dietary aide at the local hospital. Anne delivered dinner trays to patients, but the job was about much more than doling out nutrition. For Anne, it was about offering up compassion and holistic healing.

“I really wanted to talk to and develop relationships with the patients, especially the older people who were staying in the hospital a lot longer,” Anne remembers. “It always struck me how the end of life should be the best it can be, despite the illnesses we encounter as we age.”

Even though her lingering conversations brought negative attention from her superiors, Anne was committed to spending time with patients. That passionate intuition has guided her through her long career in senior care, which now finds her in the position of president and chief executive officer at Glenmeadow. Timothy Cotz retired from the position on Oct. 5; Anne took over Nov. 1.

Anne has worked as a caseworker for elders at risk in New York City. She opened the health care center at Hebrew SeniorLife’s NewBridge on the Charles, a 160-acre campus in Dedham. And, most recently, she served as vice president of residential health at JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow. She has more than 25 years of experience working with seniors.

She feels honored and humbled that Glenmeadow’s national CEO search found her at an organization right next door; she knows she has big shoes to fill. Anne spent her first day on the job getting to know residents and Glenmeadow’s staff of 200.

“My feet hurt by the end of the day,” she says. “But my favorite thing to do is to just talk to people and hear different perspectives and insights. It brought back memories of the first day of school, thinking, ‘What am I going to wear? Will they like me?’ It was overwhelming, but everyone was so welcoming.”

Since, Anne has continued conversations and making connections with all those in the Glenmeadow family; she says she hasn’t talked with a single resident or employee who said they didn’t enjoy being at Glenmeadow, which she feels is a testament to the great work the life plan community has been doing. “Glenmeadow has such an outstanding reputation in the community. That’s not something you get easily,” she says.

Anne sees her new position as an opportunity to develop even stronger partnerships within Glenmeadow, and she is grateful for the roadmap presented to her by the Board in the form of the new strategic plan.

“The plan is focused on getting us to the next stage of the journey, and it outlines areas for expansion and exploration,” she says, noting that a call for additional focus on dementia services is critical and also dear to her heart. While working for the founding chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for nearly 10 years, Anne did a lot of education and counseling around dementia care and saw firsthand the toll that the disease takes not only on the person afflicted but on the entire family.

Watching her strong, independent mother age and experience the end of life was also formative for Anne. “She was in a very nice nursing home, but she hated every minute of it,” Anne says. She notes that, in her own life at the same time, Anne was working in elder care and spoke often to her mother about her commitment to making the senior years and end of life more joy-filled. “My mother said, ‘Good luck with that Anne.’

“It isn’t easy at all,” Anne adds, “But at Glenmeadow, there’s a strong foundation here. The commitment to mind, body and spirit already exists. We need to continue to foster that and also do more to make peoples’ lives even better.”

Anne is married to Scott McGovern; together they have a son and a daughter.

“I take my mission here very seriously,” she says. “I want to have fun here and build great relationships, but I also know there’s a lot of hard work ahead. We have the right people in place to make that happen, for sure.”

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