General Sessions

2020 General Sessions and Featured Speakers


Envisioning the Future

Scenes from our 2019 Roll Call of States, Provinces and Nations

Sunday, August 9
Welcome: The First Glance
Featured Speaker: Christopher Ridenhour

Roll Call of States/Provinces/Nations 

Christopher Ridenhour

What better way to get your first glance of the conference than by joining fellow Pioneers as we welcome you to Pittsburgh, and begin our annual journey as we Envision the Future. It’s a time to begin networking as you reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. Together, we will share information about what to expect, help you figure out how to navigate around the hotel and downtown Pittsburgh and provide tips for using the conference App.

Long-time friend of Pioneer Network, Christopher Ridenhour, will share a message with attendees, The Chorus of Champions.  He will remind us how as the demands and stresses of our jobs and lives increase, never before has the need to “be the change” been more necessary! Even as we serve our elders and their families, we must take every opportunity to refresh and renew our minds, bodies and spirits.

Today’s welcome session is a Party with a Purpose! In order for us to change the world’s perception of aging, we will need to combine our talents, voices, and energies. Are you READY to help create a conference culture, right here, right now, that will reintroduce you to the version of you that is fearless and thrilled about the bright future we can manifest together?

Come prepared to connect to new friends and allies. There are heroes, mentors, and role models who have traveled far and near to meet YOU! Not only will you leave this fully interactive event with a greater understanding of the workings of the conference and app, but also a new and vast network of amazing colleagues. Through conversation and celebration, your voice will be added to this chorus of champions!

And no welcome for Pioneer Network would be complete if it wasn’t followed by welcoming rituals like the traditional Roll Call of States, Provinces and Nations led by Pioneer Network founder and former Executive Director, Rose Marie Fagan.

Monday August 10
8:00 am – 10:30 am
Breakfast and General Session:
Achieving 20/20 Vision

Keynote: Walter Coffey and David Sprowl
I Can See Clearly Now

Join us for the official convening of the Pioneers as you hear from Penny Cook, Pioneer Network’s President and CEO, about the state of the movement and join us as we celebrate and share the stories of the recipients of the 3rd Annual Community Commitment Awards.

Hearing the award recipients share their vision is sure to inspire, but achieving 2020 vision is about more than inspiration.  By the end of this general session, attendees will be better prepared to put their vision into action.  Keynote speakers Walter Coffey and David Sprowl, leaders in the field of aging, will share how we must see clearly and be accountable for moving forward – transforming ourselves and our organizations. After clarifying our vision, we must put it into action.

In the culture change movement, we often only focus on our personal transformation. We have been slower to transform our practices, systems and operations. In order to advance person-centered care and services, we must identify then eliminate or least minimize our challenges. This will allow us to see more clearly.  Once we have a clear vision, we can intentionally focus our attention and energy on the journey. We must adapt and adopt new and different perspectives as we look for the next right answer to becoming more person-centered.

Achieving 2020 vision involves an intentional plan for transformation which includes ongoing evaluation, adaptation, and change. Our journey calls for us to stay in the moment, notice what we see, and not get distracted by the dark clouds that have us blind.  By the end of the session, together, we will be prepared to leave singing “I Can See Clearly Now!”

Walter Coffey

Walter O. Coffey is a Managing Partner of WD International Consulting. He is committed to the education and development of individuals with an emphasis on supporting organizations to empower and retain their staff. Walter is an international leader in the culture change movement and has the demonstrated ability to transform organizations to become person-centered. Walter has worked with older adults for over 35 years. He served as the President & CEO of LeadingAge Georgia, the Georgia Institute on Aging (the education arm of LeadingAge) and the Center for Positive Aging (the consumer arm of LeadingAge) for 18 years. Along with developing and leading professional development and educational programs, Walter has made presentations at state, national and international conferences. He is passionate about facilitating the development of individuals and organizations, especially relating to quality, person-centered care and services. He became a certified Eden Educator in order to engage and certify professionals and elders in the culture change movement. In 2008, he co-founded and still co-facilitates the state culture change coalition for Georgia. During his career, Walter also served as the Administrator at Northminster Presbyterian Homes, Director of Assisted Living at Presbyterian Village, Director of Adult Day Services at the Alzheimer’s Association/Georgia Chapter, Assistant Director of the Georgia Council on Aging, Administrative Director of Georgia Gerontology Society, and in various ministerial positions.

David Sprowl

David Sprowl is a Managing Partner of WD International Consulting and a certified Leadership Coach. He is committed to the mentoring and coaching of individuals with a focus on their professional and personal growth. As a seasoned educator, David has a demonstrated ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. David was the Executive Director of Lutheran Towers, a 203-unit high-rise affordable housing community located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, Georgia. He led the transformative journey at Lutheran Towers for more than thirteen years. David developed a strong management team and staff who were encouraged to explore and grow and were empowered to work together to create and implement innovative programs and services. They developed successful care partnerships which provided the Elders living in the affordable housing setting with one of the strongest supportive service programs in the country. Over 75% of David’s staff were certified Eden Alternative Associates which demonstrates his commitment to the person-centered philosophy. David has been featured in the “Wisdom” section of the national magazine, “FutureAge”, for making a difference through servant leadership. Over the course of his career, David has held the position of V.P. of Members Services for LeadingAge Georgia, Program Analyst for the Office of Inspector General for U.S. Health and Human Services, and various positions with the IBM Corporation.


Tuesday August 11
8:00 am – 9:15
General Session:
Under Construction…but watch for more information – you won’t want to miss it!

Tuesday August 11
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
The Future’s So Bright We Gotta Wear Shades

Keynote: Denise Boudreau-Scott
From Tired to Inspired

Envisioning the Future started with the first glance, focused on achieving 20/20 vision and culminates as Pioneers join together to explore a future so bright we gotta wear shades! 

We all come into the aging services field wanting to make a difference in the lives of others, but after a few years we find ourselves feeling more tired than inspired! In this unique and powerful presentation by Deinse Boudreau-Scott, you’ll discover the astonishing underlying cause of the fatigue that so often turns the most idealistic and well-intentioned staff into part of the problem. You’ll find out how doing the right thing, in every sense of the word, will fill your community, build your reputation and have the hearts of your staff brimming with the love and enthusiasm that led them into aging services in the first place. You’ll take an exhilarating round trip from tired to inspired and return to your workplace with new ideas and concepts, and a simple but amazingly effective system to raise and sustain everyone’s energy. Read more about Denise’s presentation.

Denise Boudreau-Scott

Denise Boudreau-Scott is President of DRIVE, which helps aging services organizations improve the resident and staff experience, and the bottom-line, through more engaged leaders and employees. A former nursing home and assisted living administrator, Denise co-founded and is chairperson of the New Jersey Alliance for Culture Change, a member of NAB’s LNHA Exam Writing Committee, chair of NAB’s Member Relations Committee and a former board member of the Pioneer Network. Denise received her Bachelor of Science in Gerontology from the University of Scranton and her Master in Health Administration from Cornell University where she serves as a student mentor and speaker. She is proud to share that she started off her career as a dietary aide and nursing assistant. Denise lives at the Jersey Shore with her husband, twin boys, one rescued Lab and a mutant Chihuahua who weighs 26 pounds!