Providing wise counsel
LeadingAge, VP of Legislative Affairs, Marsha Greenfield
Greenfield, the vice president of legislative affairs at LeadingAge, is an attorney who has worked across the country on child abuse, family law and jury selection. But when her mother developed dementia, she started learning more about assisted living and nursing homes.
“This was a woman who had been one of the most competent, diligent people in the universe,” Greenfield remembers. “But in 1994, she began noticing she was having problems with speech and memory. I became this long-distance caregiver.”
Ultimately, Greenfield moved her mother to an assisted living facility in the District of Columbia, where she became involved in a family group. Although her mother died in 1998, Greenfield's commitment did not waver. That year, she left her position as executive director of Consumers United for Assisted Living to become a public policy attorney at LeadingAge.
“I had to go through it myself and saw how complicated it was and how difficult it is to be a consumer and family member,” she says. “I fell into it.”
Greenfield is “one of the sharpest intellectual legal minds I've ever come across,” says
Jennifer Hilliard, a LeadingAge public policy attorney who is also a good friend of Greenfield's.
“We have opposite approaches, but we fit together. She cares about our members deeply,” says Hilliard.
After being LeadingAge's senior legislative counsel for five years, last year Greenfield became responsible for managing the lobbying practice. Her most pressing goal today is preserving the CLASS Act insurance benefit.
“It seems ironic that the rest of my career will be spent preserving aspects of American life. I don't view entitlements as a bad thing,” she says. “When I grew up as a child, there was no Medicare. I remember stories of elderly folks who chose between cat food and real food. The values that I grew up with, of caring for people — that is not a penalty or a disadvantage.”
Her childhood was spent in a town of 1,000 people in Millerton, NY (“where about a third of the town was my family”). She moved to Poughkeepsie as a teenager.
After graduating from Vassar College and then Rutgers, Greenfield moved to California, then Michigan, where she practiced law for a decade. She came to D.C. in 1988 and today lives in Montgomery Village with her two cats, Iggy Pop and Phoenix. In her spare time, the 63-year-old likes to travel — Iceland is one of her most recent destinations.
An only child, she says her parents were huge influences in her life and career.
“My father was very literary and political, and he was a cook. I sort of learned that you didn't have roles in the house. I always looked beyond my own horizons,” she says.
She also counts Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late civil rights leader Arthur Kinoi, both former professors at Rutgers, as role models.
“I am constantly inspired and amazed by people,” she says, “and I am grateful for my career.”
Completes law degree at Rutgers University
Starts teaching classes at University of San Francisco Law School
Serves as the managing attorney at Legal Services of Southeastern Michigan, Adrian, MI
Becomes partner at a law firm in Ann Arbor, MI
Starts as executive director, Task Forces on Racial and Ethnic Bias and Gender Bias in the District of Columbia Courts, Washington, DC
Becomes a public policy attorney at LeadingAge (then AAHSA)
Elevated to VP of Legislative Affairs at LeadingAge