When Steven Chies was around 8 years old, he picked up a copy of “The Swiss Family Robinson” at a friend’s house. He sat up all night reading the book, the experience sparking a lifelong, voracious love of reading.

 He’s the type of person who always has 12 books on the bedside table, a list of authors he’d love to have lunch with, and a hardcover to take on long flights. World War II history, the Jack Reacher series and leadership books are favorites.

It’s no surprise, then, that he’s made time in his role as a program director for long-term care at St. Joseph’s College in Maine, among other posts, to rewrite the textbook “Pratt’s Long-Term Care: Managing Across the Continuum.” He’s also been heavily involved in Vision 2025, serving as the co-chairman of the project aimed at shaping the future of leadership education and training for the field.

Above all, his vision for the future is realistic, and ultimately hopeful. He has dedicated his professional life to educating the leaders of tomorrow on how to be better leaders, after all.

When Chies was 20, he spent a year in Southeast Asia as part of the U.S. Army special forces, educating and training indigenous personnel to fight. There, he learned self-reliance and discipline. He also absorbed the foundational elements of his process-driven leadership style and saw firsthand how training and education can make a difference in an organization. 

The service helped his grades, too. Before Chies was drafted into the military in 1970, he was a 2.0 student at the University of Minnesota. After two years of service, he returned to complete his degree and became a 4.0 student.

Upon graduation, he jumped into the family business. His father was a builder in Minnesota who constructed two nursing homes in the area. The younger Chies was eager to learn the innerworkings of the profession and dove into the role of administrator. He ended up running a family nursing home for 22 years. 

He also developed a reputation as a sought-after speaker and eventually began teaching higher education classes online. He has since taught at the University of Minnesota; University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire; and Minnesota State University in Mankato. He also has shared his knowledge through leadership roles with the American Health Care Association. 

Chies lives with his wife of 50 years, Sharon, on 3.5 acres on the northernmost shores of the Mississippi River outside of the Twin Cities. The couple’s three grown daughters and four grandchildren all live nearby. 

Despite a busy work schedule, family life and lengthy reading list, Chies makes time for fly fishing. He has wet a line in 30 states, eight Canadian provinces, Ireland, Scotland and the Bahamas. His favorite fishing spot is Kenai, AK. He still remembers a 20-inch rainbow trout he caught there one October afternoon on the last cast of the day.

Since he practices catch-and-release methods, there is no mounted memory of that prized specimen. But he does have a photo. He keeps it in his office to remind him that it’s never too late in the day for one last cast, or make one more impact.

— Nicole Bowman

Resume: 1974, Earns bachelor’s degree from Univ. of Minnesota; 1975, Named administrator of family-owned North Cities Healthcare Inc.; becomes president in 1986; 1993-2003, Serves as treasurer and director, The Long-Term Care Foundation; 1995-97, Chairs Board of National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards; 1997, Launches consulting career; 2000, Becomes SVP of Operations for Benedictine Health; 2003-2005, Serves as AHCA board chairman; 2010, Joins online faculty at St. Joseph’s College; 2011, Earns master’s degree in healthcare administration; 2017, Named LTC program director at St. Joseph’s College; 2018-21, Chairs AHCA Health IT Committee