Profile — Turnaround specialist
Doug Pace, executive director, National Commission for Quality LTC, has a very important deadline, and if he doesn't make it, he will lose his job.While that may be overstating the case just a bit, Pace is well aware that his new position as executive director of the National Commission for Quality Long-Term Care comes with a one-year term limit — if he and his 14-member panel don't produce substantive results by September 2007. At that point, the sponsoring organizations have the option of either continuing to fund the project or walking away from it.
Instead of being intimidated by the challenge, though, Pace embraces it. "I was hired for this in July because I have experience working on time-limited projects," he said. "We have to come up with something tangible within the time framework and I'm confident we will."
The commission is charged with evaluating the current quality of long-term care, identifying factors that influence the ability to improve quality and formulating policy improvements. It is also charged with creating a forum for public dialogue among long-term care professionals, consumers, regulators, purchasers, providers and other stakeholders on long-term care quality and quality improvement.
Pace's role will be to act as a guide, giving the group the structure it needs to achieve its goals.
To handle this formidable challenge, the 51-year-old said he will draw upon his skills as a "consensus and coalition builder." It is a role he is completely comfortable with, following up on his experience as a facilitator for AAHSA's Assisted Living Work Group from 2001-2003. The completed report from that project included more than 180 recommendations on assisted living and continuing care issues.
"It consumed me for 18 months," Pace said. "We went from a blank sheet of paper to 380 pages. It was one of the most incredible things I've been involved with and a great testing ground for moving me into this job."
Although the commission officially is headquartered at New School University in New York, Pace will remain at the AAHSA office in Washington. That suits the lanky Kentucky native since he enjoys activities such as running on the National Mall grounds in Washington. He completed the U.S. Marine Corps marathon in 2004.
Staying put also allows him to remain close to his younger daughter, Amanda, who is 20 and lives in Baltimore. His other daughter, 23-year-old Elizabeth, lives in Houston. Both are college students.
Pace entered long-term care in 1994 after spending 15 years in retail management. His interest in the industry originated in Hardin, KY, a rural area in the western part of the state, where he grew up. He had a very close relationship with both sets of grandparents. One of his fondest memories is making apple cider with his grandfather.
When Pace reached a point in his career where he wanted to "give something back," he immediately thought of his beloved grandparents, one of whom spent eight years in a nursing home.
"I developed a real love for the elderly early in life and making sure they were well taken care of is what drew me to long-term care," he said.
He became the administrator of a 249-bed multi-level facility in Nashville and served as president of AAHSA's Tennessee affiliate in 1996. This involvement led him to join the national organization in 2001.
Mary Anna Womeldorf, CEO of McKendree Village in Nashville, served as Pace's preceptor during his administrator-in-training period and says he built an amazingly quick context on facility operations, delivery of service and long-term care industry issues. He also showed a remarkable ability to get people to work together, which she said is his greatest talent.
"He has a deep understanding and appreciation of people of all ages," Womeldorf said. "He has a tremendous knowledge base and can articulate what he knows. He is perfect for that job."
Doug Pace Resume
1977 - Graduates from Lipscomb University in Nashville with a bachelor's degree in business administration and economics
1978 - Starts a 15-year career as a buyer and later, general manager for Cain-Sloan and Dillard Department Stores
1994 -Hired as administrator for Lakeshore Estates-Wedgewood in Nashville
1996 - Named president of the Tennessee Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
2001 - Joins AAHSA in Washington, winding up as VP of culture transformation