This is a man on a mission: William L. Minnix, Jr., D.Min., President and CEO, AAHSA
When you talk to some of the people who know Larry Minnix, it's not long before you hear the following refrain: he was born to lead AAHSA.
They'll tell you about his great communication skills, his extraordinary ability to motivate and inspire, his homespun stories, his bridge-building traits, his strong faith, family ties and his uncommon insight. And don't forget about his sense of humor, they'll add. Any person who'll kiss a pig to win a bet (at a state chapter meeting) surely must have one.
Those are good qualities to have when you're the president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, an organization that represents more than 5,600 mission-driven, not-for-profit nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities, assisted living centers, senior housing facilities and community service organizations.
But the tools that have served him best in the four years he's been the boss at AAHSA -- and throughout his career in ministry and long-term care services -- are his abilities to listen and build teamwork.
Minnix honed his impressive toolbox of personal skills while becoming an ordained minister, and during a 28-year tenure at Wesley Woods Center of Emory University in Atlanta, where he did everything from feed residents to serve as CEO.
"If you walk around and listen to people, they'll tell you what it is they need," he says. Maybe that's one reason why AAHSA's national meetings seem to be less focused on lectures and more on dialogue.
Listening is a skill he continues to use while making regular visits to AAHSA affiliates nationwide. The practice helps keep him informed about what's happening on the front lines. It also energizes him. Not that he's ever been accused of being lethargic.
"He has an incredible energy level and commitment to the continuum of long-term care," notes William T. Smith, Ph.D., AAHSA's board chairman. Smith served on the committee that chose Minnix four years ago. In an understated tone, Smith calls the hiring "one of our better decisions."
"He approaches this job with the grace of someone who was born for it," agrees Richard C. Schutt, the immediate past chair of AAHSA and executive director of Rest Haven Christian Services in Tinley Park, IL. "It never looks like work to him: It's like he just got up in the morning and decided to help a few friends."
It is within AAHSA that Minnix has made some of his greatest strides. He's driving dramatic change there, in an effort to help members deliver quality long-term care services in the most appropriate settings possible. The new AAHSA is evolving into a member driven, consumer-focused, knowledge based organization. And he freely admits that new paradigms and relationships are a part of the shift. Increasingly, the government and consumer groups are being seen as partners, not adversaries.
He regularly points out Management Guru Peter Drucker's book about the unique role of not-for-profit, philanthropic organizations in America. Drucker writes that the nation has three fundamental institutions: business, government and not-for-profits.
"The not-for-profit sector's job is to do the difficult things, to do the innovative things, to respond to the needs of the community and change lives," Minnix said. In a recent letter to members about AAHSA's future, he laid out six ideals.
• Dignity of all persons at every stage of life.
• Services people need, when they need them, in the place they call home.
• Quality that people can trust.
• Mission-driven, not-for-profit values.
• Advocacy for the right public policy, for the right reasons.
• Leadership through shared learning.
As a child, Minnix says his heroes were his uncle Clarence and his grandfather Paul. These days, he finds himself admiring people like Mother Teresa and Abraham Lincoln. But there's no doubt about who his anchor is. It's his wife, Kathleen. He readily describes her as "the greatest person in my life."
"When I'm discouraged, she reminds me of what I'm doing and why. And when I'm full of myself, she knows how to pull the plug. I can always count on her."
Minnix lauds the D