Editor’s Note: As part of our 40th anniversary, McKnight’s is recognizing 40 notable newsmakers. Each week, we will highlight a new high-profile leader from the past four decades.

Whoever said to leave things better than you found them must have had Bruce Yarwood in mind.

The affable AHCA/NCAL lobbyist knew he would be dealing with a house somewhat divided in 2005, when he became president and CEO.

“I pulled a lot of mushrooms out of the ground considering (the position),” he told McKnight’s.

One of his tasks was to smooth over a rift created when 15 large members began pushing to essentially make the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care an independent association.

Yarwood succeeded in mending internal fences between larger and smaller members, while also taking on larger industry challenges. He quickly established himself as a champion of continued Medicaid and Medicare funding support, challenged early versions of the government’s Five Star ratings system, and helped build bridges to other trade groups with shared interests.

He also frequently testified before Congress at a time when funding cuts were an annual challenge.

“What should not be lost in this debate is that long-term care providers are healthcare professionals who strive to provide the highest quality care and are doing so under often very challenging circumstances,” he noted.

A life-threatening health challenge eventually forced him to retire in 2010. Through it all, he remained a champion of providers and quality care. He is also one of our most notable newsmakers during the past 40 years.