Nursing home association looking for 'powerful' leader, as search to replace retiring CEO Yarwood heats up

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Bruce Yarwood, AHCA CEO
Bruce Yarwood, AHCA CEO

The nation's largest nursing home organization is stepping up its efforts to find a new leader. A committee of about 15 people has been named to assist search firm Russell Reynolds Associates. Their goal is to find a suitable replacement for Bruce Yarwood, who will retire later this year as the president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living.

The 67-year-old Yarwood has spent 22 years in Washington as a provider lobbyist, and has served in his current role for the last half decade. Yarwood suffered a nearly fatal brain aneurysm last fall, which kept him out of the office for more than two months. But his decision to retire had been made long before then, Board Chair Robert Van Dyk confirmed.

Yarwood initially wanted to retire last year, but Van Dyk said he persuaded him to continue for at least one more year. A Sacramento, CA-native, Yarwood has expressed his desire to spend more time with his grandchildren, and travel more, especially to Sweden, where he and his Swedish-born wife, Margarete, own a home.

“He's been a huge positive influence. His contacts, his relationships, his personality, his sense of humor, his understanding of the profession,” Van Dyk said. “I tell Bruce, ‘You are an anomaly.'”

The search committee is now interviewing association members, as well as non-members, to help determine characteristics that Yarwood's replacement should possess. Their goal is to announce a new leader in time for the group's annual convention in October, Van Dyk said. He added that Yarwood has pledged to stay available as a consultant, should the need arise. Last year, a magazine poll named Yarwood the 25th most powerful person in U.S. healthcare.

“What's first and foremost is we need a good communicator,” Van Dyk said. “The person we want is someone who doesn't even know they want us yet. We are not looking for the individual checking the want ads. We're looking for someone who will be a powerful leader.”