Editor’s note: As part of the 40th anniversary of McKnight’s, McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News are recognizing 40 notable newsmakers. Each week, the brands will highlight a new, high-profile leader from the past four decades. Previously published installments of the series are posted here.

Cynthia Morton, a key go-to person for expertise on long-term care and post-acute care public policy issues, developed her path one step at a time.

A high school government teacher initially fueled Morton’s enthusiasm for public policy and advocacy. Morton would later go on to earn an undergraduate in political science from James Madison in University and a master’s in public administration degree from the Virginia Commonwealth University.  

Morton’s interest in long-term care was sparked while working as a legislative assistant for a Virginia law firm that also represented the Virginia Health Care Association at the time. By the late 1990s, she would go on to join the Virginia Medicaid agency (now the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services) as a special assistant to the director.

She then spent 12 years with the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, where she served in several roles, including vice president of political affairs and senior director of congressional affairs, helping advance the organization’s advocacy agenda. 

Among her accomplishments at AHCA/NCAL, Morton was key in the development of a coalition that secured $20 billion in state fiscal relief. She also developed the organizations’ grassroots advocacy program and a political action committee that raised and disbursed more than $1.4 million.

In 2010, Morton was tapped as executive director for the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care. Cindy Susienka, then president of NASL, said Morton’s “expertise in healthcare policy and in-depth knowledge of the issues that directly affect our members will be a great asset.”

Morton’s work, expertise and influence on the industry and federal policy over the past 30 years led her to being named a McKnight’s Women of Distinction Hall of Honoree inductee in 2020.

“What’s been important to me in every role is finding your voice and using your voice to advocate for our patients and to make long-term care a better place,” Morton said last week upon receiving the honor.