June 4, 2012--Paul Phillips, a longtime leader of not-for-profit communities for older adults in upstate New York, became Executive Director of the Lathrop Communities June 4. Elisabeth Weissbach, who has served as Lathrop’s Executive Director since 1999, retired June 1.
“Paul possesses outstanding leadership experience gained during a successful 23-year career in nonprofit senior living, the majority of which has been in senior leadership roles, including that of Executive Director, with The Friendly Home in Rochester, N.Y.,” said Marilyn Richards, Chair of Lathrop’s Board of Directors, in a letter to residents and staff.
In one of many roles at the Friendly Home, Phillips led the development, initial marketing, financing, construction and opening of a new campus. When it opened in 2004, the $50 million Cloverwood community included 150 independent living residences and 20 assisted living apartments. Since then, he has overseen the expansion of the Cloverwood campus with the addition of 37 assisted living residences, including a state-of–the-art memory care neighborhood.
Phillips, who has a master’s degree in gerontology from the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a bachelor’s degree in gerontology from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., is licensed as a nursing home administrator in New York.
“I’ve always had sort of a natural affinity for older folks,” Phillips says. “I enjoy communicating with them and learning from them. It’s just always been a natural thing for me.”
One reason he was intrigued by the opportunity to lead Lathrop Communities is their commitment to planning for the future. "Lathrop's new strategic plan lays out an excellent path forward," Phillips says. "There are so many exciting opportunities ahead as everyone at Lathrop works together to serve our residents and the surrounding communities."
Phillips says he also is interested in strengthening ties with the five colleges that are within in 10-mile radius of Lathrop’s campuses in Northampton and Easthampton, Mass. Currently, Lathrop residents can audit courses and take in many cultural activities on the campuses of Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith and UMass Amherst. In addition, Lathrop residents are invited to join the Five Colleges Learning in Retirement organization, which offers seminars on the two Lathrop campuses and on all five college campuses.
“This whole convergence between higher education and senior living is just such an ideal fit. I’m really interested in facilitating some further growth of those relationships,” Phillips says.