Steven Nash grew up hearing stories of his great-grandmother and her pennies from heaven. Her collection detailed donations she gathered for residents of Stoddard Baptist, a nursing facility in Washington, DC, where two of her children worked.
Flash forward 50 years and Nash is now an ordained deacon, father of three and self-professed “nature lover.” He’s also president and CEO of Stoddard Baptist Home Foundation, the longest serving African-American nursing home in the US — and the very place that meant so much to his great-grandmother.
Steven Nash was born in DC to a strict yet loving family. His parents pushed him to succeed academically and physically, nurturing his interest in science and football. When he was 5, his mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and entered a nursing home. She died six years later, an experience that Nash says spurred his interest in healthcare administration.
Eventually, he attended Princeton University. While the biology major explored a side interest in art, he was greatly moved by ceramics professor Toshiko Takaezu. She taught him how art could serve as a creative release and complement his scientific studies. Nash sought out such inspiration from all kinds of educators in his early life.
“No matter what happens in your life, no one can take your education from you,” he says. “The gifts that you are given by God really can be brought out by finding that curiosity.”
Nash carried this love for learning well into adult life. He enjoys practicing Spanish, horseback riding and golfing, which he picked up to connect with his father before he died. Nash and his wife of 33 years, Ruth, also enjoy spending time with their children: a Fulbright scholar, a PhD candidate and a theater production professional. Nash jokingly maintains that his children received all of their intelligence from their mother.
Although he struggles to put a 51-year friendship into words, Nash’s childhood best friend, Jim Morrison III, says Nash is a “well-rounded, intelligent and caring person” who “builds lasting relationships with many.”
Nash’s heart of gold has allowed him to make many friends, some in high places. Last December, he was asked to lead a televised mass with Wilton Cardinal Gregory, the first Black cardinal in the Catholic Church. “I fell over when they called me!” recalled Nash, who also befriended Nobel Prize recipient Bishop Desmond Tutu at a LeadingAge conference after the two met in a VIP lounge.
For someone like Nash, who has had an illustrious career, pursued numerous passions and even crossed paths with some of his idols, it may seem like life is complete. He says, however, he still has much to look forward to, particularly with regard to growing Stoddard. His goal is to keep it running for another 120 years, despite the occasional setback.
“My Dad would always tell me that life is full of valleys and mountains,” Nash says. “You’ll be in a valley sometimes and your job is to get out of that valley as quick as you can to get to that mountaintop.’”
As for the climb, Nash is still on his way to yet another peak.
Steven Nash’s resume
1983 Earns BS in biology at Princeton University
1983 Becomes a tech at nursing home pharmacy
1991 Named grant administrator for DC Office on Aging
1994 Obtains nursing home administrator license
1994 Works at Collington Episcopal Life Care Center
1994 Serves as administrator at Asbury Methodist Village
1998 Appointed VP of the DC Health Care Association
1999-2012 Chairs DC Board of Nursing Home Administration
2001 Named administrator, Stoddard Baptist Home
2007 Becomes president and CEO of Stoddard Baptist
2015 Ordained as permanent deacon, Archdiocese of DC
2016 Named Dr. Herbert Shore Outstanding Mentor
2017-2018 Chairs the LeadingAge DC board