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ASHA unveils ambitious five-year strategic plan

Matt Valley of Seniors Housing Business interviews David Schless on ASHA’s Strategic Plan

What began as a daunting, seven month strategic planning process for David Schless, president of the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), turned out to be a rewarding experience for him. More importantly, the newly unveiled five-year strategic plan will position ASHA for even greater effectiveness in the long run, says the veteran executive. “It started in May and ended in January, but you could make the argument that it’s just beginning,” says Schless, referring to the comprehensive strategic planning initiative. “It was a remarkably time-consuming endeavor. At the same time, it was energizing to be part of the process.” The marathon strategic planning process, led by The Napa Group, began last April after discussions about a possible merger ended between the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) and ASHA with the two groups deciding to remain separate. More than 300 members at every level of ASHA were engaged in the strategic process through a combination of online surveys, committee meetings, subcommittee conference calls and webinars. Developers, operators, lenders, investors and other professionals all provided input. ASHA conducted two member surveys and even established a special strategic planning project webpage. “We started from scratch. There was nothing sacred about what ASHA does,” says Schless, who has led the association for the past 24 years. “ASHA has been a successful organization, but there are areas to improve. The membership identified areas of improvement and opportunities to fill real voids that haven’t been addressed by other industry organizations.” ASHA’s newly adopted vision of “Living Longer Better” is designed to improve the quality of life of seniors who reside in the communities owned or operated by the organization’s members. The updated strategic plan outlines five goals and objectives:

Launch industry promotional campaign. Educate the general public on the merits of senior living and shape perceptions of the senior living experience, supported by a digital network, website and social media;

Broaden the advocacy program. Deliver a coherent, coordinated legislative program at the federal level with increased focus and select engagement on state policy;

Bolster research efforts. Partner with a leading university to provide exclusive research on topics such as aging, healthcare, hospitality technology and real estate;

Foster leadership development. Develop a process for identifying prospective members and developing future ASHA leaders;

Restructure meetings. Revamp meetings to become more strategic, proactive and forward-thinking while better engaging, educating and informing members.

Following the association’s annual meeting in January, Schless spoke with Seniors Housing Business about the five-year plan in detail.

Click on Download File to read the full interview.