Profile - Investing in bonds
Angelo S. Rotella, AHCA Board of Governors Chairman It may seem ironic to some that the operator of two small facilities in the country's smallest state is the biggest officer in the nation's largest nursing home association. But not to those who know Angelo Rotella well."He is passionate about providing quality long-term care for those in his facilities, and he brings that same passion to his work on behalf of the profession — adapting his first-hand knowledge about what's needed to provide quality care on a smaller scale to the big picture of what's necessary industry-wide," AHCA President and CEO Bruce Yarwood said admiringly.
Rotella, indeed, brings a unique perspective to the post, which typically has been held by corporate types or multifacility owners. He owns a single-facility, 220-bed Berkshire Place in Providence, RI, and is administrator at another, 126-bed Friendly Nursing Home in Woonsocket, RI.
"It's no doubt that the genuine person Angelo is resonates with the people he comes into contact with," says good friend James Langevin, a third-term Democratic U.S. congressman from the state.
The middle of three boys, Rotella, 54, considers himself a "coalition builder."
Although their parents never graduated from high school, Rotella and his brothers all pursued doctorate degrees in law.
His first job out of college, however, made use of his accounting degree. He was briefly a tax collector for the state of Rhode Island before moving to the department of human services, where he administered one of the state's social services programs. Eventually, he left to become the administrator-in-training at Friendly Nursing Home.
"As soon as I got there and saw what was going on with nursing home regulations, I said to myself, 'Well, you either need to be a lawyer or you need one sitting next to you at all times,'" he remembers.
He enrolled in law school part-time, fulfilling a vision he had had since seventh grade. He says he values his law degree for the unique perspective it gives him, even though he says he would never be so bold as to use it to represent himself, his business or his association.
"As a lawyer, I am able to ask different questions and can work with our attorney to give him a totally different perspective on issues, including regulations," he says.
As a boy, much of his perspective was shaped by family experiences. Like many New Englanders of Italian descent, he says, he considers family an amazingly strong glue.
A second-generation Italian who regrets never having learned to speak Italian fluently, he nonetheless flexed his listening powers as a youngster to help understand the Italian that was spoken occasionally at home and exclusively at his grandparents' house.
A Providence, RI, native, he grew up admiring his father, who built a successful jewelry business with Rotella's grandfather. At one time or another, the entire family worked for the business, he said.
Today, Rotella's wife, Kristina, and only child, Matthew, are involved in the nursing home business as well. She uses her marketing and public relations background to help polish the facility's offerings. Matthew, a 24-year-old Nichols College graduate, began working in Friendly's admissions office and also is pursuing grant writing.
Employing a management style similar to the one he read about in Michael Lewis' book Money Ball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Rotella says he takes pride in surrounding himself with capable people and letting them do their jobs.
"In the nursing home business, we build teams," Rotella says, "so whether it's a baseball team or basketball team or a team that runs a building, we need to have that sense of teamwork, which includes having that manager and all of the position players. If it doesn't operate like a team, it just doesn't operate well."
Angelo S. Rotella's Resume
1973 - Graduates from Bryant College, Smithfield, RI, with a B.S. in business
1982 - Joins Friendly Nursing Home as administrator in training
1989 - Receives J.D. from Southern New England School of Law
1990 - Honored with American Health Care Association's Presidential Citation
1995 - Becomes majority owner of the 220-bed Berkshire Place, Providence, RI
2005 - Elected to Chair American Health Care Association's Board of Governors after numerous years of service for the association at various levels.