Katie Smith Sloan will be the first female top executive at LeadingAge.

The former chief operating officer of LeadingAge, Katie Smith Sloan, has been named its new president and CEO — the first woman to hold the top posts at the association. 

In addition to her COO duties, Sloan also has been the executive director of the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing, a role she is expected to continue.

A LeadingAge panel conducted a nationwide search that involved hundreds of candidates and dozens of interviewees before determining its choice.

“When all was said and done, it turned out the ideal candidate was right here all along,” said then-LeadingAge Board of Directors Chairman David Gehm. The board unanimously approved Sloan’s appointment in October.

“Our big hearts will need to grow bigger, and more importantly, grow braver, to carry out our mission and expand the world of possibilities for aging,” Sloan said during remarks at the annual convention in November in Boston, which drew a record 8,864 attendees. 

Retiring President and CEO Larry Minnix told McKnight’s Sloan is a “voice of stability.” During his LeadingAge convention farewell remarks, Minnix told the crowd that Sloan has “made me a better leader, and she’ll make you one, too.”