Keynotes and General Session

Walter O. Coffey, MPA, MA
Eden Educator, Gerontologist, and Thought Leader

David Sprowl, MPA
Eden Educator, Facilitator, and ICF Credentialed Leadership Coach

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 at 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 blind us. By the end of the session, together, we will be prepared to leave singing “I Can See Clearly Now!”

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 is a Managing Partner of WD International Consulting and a certified Leadership Coach through the International Couching Federation (ICF). 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.


Denise Boudreau-Scott, President, Drive

Denise Boudreau-Scott reminds us that 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, 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.

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!


Moderator: Penny Cook, President & CEO, Pioneer Network
Deke Cateau, Chief Executive Officer, A.G. Rhodes
Rose Marie Fagan, Co-Founder and Founding Executive Director, Pioneer Network
Dr. David Gifford, Senior Vice President for Quality and Regulatory Affairs, American Health Care Association
Dr. Al Power, Geriatrician, author, educator, Schlegel Chair in Aging and Dementia Innovation, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging

Pioneers have been saying it for a long time, and now, in light of the events of the past six months, it has become clearer than ever that CHANGE needs to happen!  The question — what will that change look like? What is the future for Elders and for those of us who work in the field of aging care and services?

Join us for a lively and thought-provoking discussion led by Pioneer Network President & CEO Penny Cook in which she, along with thought leaders in our field: Dr. Al Power, Dr. David Gifford, Rose Marie Fagan and Deke Cateau, will share their vision and challenge us all to not only envision the future, but to start creating it.

You will leave this session ready to define your personal action plan for being a part of the change we wish to see in the world.

Penny Cook, President/CEO: Penny’s commitment to changing the culture of aging and long-term care began early in her professional career as a social worker in Rochester, New York and continued as she moved to Colorado. She strongly believes that the care we provide to elders is directly related to the way we, as a society, view aging. She is passionate about spreading the message that we are in the midst of a revolution about how we age and where we do it. Penny comments that, “no matter whether people live, in nursing homes, assisted living communities or in their family home, we all deserve and should expect respectful and dignified care and support that is centered, directed and tailored to us as individuals.”

Penny previously served as the Manager of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in the Denver metropolitan region and as the Executive Director of the Colorado Culture Change Coalition. There she expanded the Coalition’s reach to look beyond nursing homes and brought the message of culture change to assisted living communities and home care organizations. Most recently she was the Director of Long Term Services and Supports for Colorado Access where she managed a state Medicaid contract to connect individuals to long-term services and supports. Penny received her Master of Social Work degree from the State University of New York at Albany and her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Binghamton University. 

Rose Marie Fagan is a co-founder and the founding Executive Director of the Pioneer Network, a National Network of individuals who are transforming the culture of aging for the 21st Century. Ms. Fagan coordinated the seminal meeting of Pioneers in 1997 in Rochester, NY and co-authored the widely disseminated final report of that historic occasion. She also coordinated nine national pioneer conferences with attendance growing to over 1000 from 48 states and 5 countries

Ms. Fagan is a national speaker on nursing home culture change and helps educate the staff of facilities in implementing change. Her activities have included being a resource to states forming statewide networks for culture change and, Creating Demand for Culture Change in Nursing Homes. This Demonstration Project in Rochester, NY, educates consumers about person-directed care and their role as an advocate.

She began her work in long term care in Rochester, NY as Director of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. In 1998, she became Project Director of Nursing Home Culture Change Project and in that capacity,  she was the Project Director for three major research projects in culture change.

Her work at Lifespan included coordinating the Long Term Care Community Forum that brings together providers, regulators, advocates, family members and residents in the Rochester community to explore together pioneering approaches in long term care.

In 2016, Ms. Fagan moved to Georgia where she is an active member of the Culture Change Network of Georgia. She is currently contracted by Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA to be a consultant for a three-year CMS funded grant to bring culture change to GA nursing homes: Building Resources for Person-Centered Care in Georgia Nursing Homes.

Deke Cateau is the Chief Executive Officer at A.G. Rhodes, a nonprofit organization providing therapy and rehabilitation services, short-term recovery and long-term care at three metro Atlanta locations. Deke is responsible for an operating budget of approximately $40 million and approximately 500 employees. A.G. Rhodes accommodates more than 400 residents at any given time, and it is estimated that approximately 70-80 percent are living with some form of dementia.

Deke has worked in the long-term care industry for more than 20 years. Prior to becoming the CEO, he served in various roles at A.G. Rhodes including the Chief Operating Officer, Chief of Strategic Implementation, and he was the Administrator for seven years at the organization’s flagship location in Grant Park. Before working at A.G. Rhodes, Deke worked at Five Star Quality Care, Inc., a national senior living communities and services provider. He served in many capacities including Area Operations Manager for Georgia, where he oversaw three skilled nursing facilities, eight assisted living facilities and one continuing care retirement community. In addition to running nursing facilities in metro Atlanta, Deke has also managed a 200-unit continuing care retirement community in Savannah. Deke has published two articles on long-term care: Act as Though Your Customer is Right, Nursing Homes Magazine, May 2005; and Skilled Nursing Facilities and Hospice Providers: Bridging the Gap, Nursing Homes Magazine, November 2006. In 2020, the Eden Alternative recognized Deke with its “Tenacious Leader” award, and in 2019, Deke was awarded LeadingAge Georgia’s “Award of Honor,” which is the association’s highest award.

David Gifford, MD, MPH, is a geriatrician who currently serves as the Senior Vice President for Quality and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at the American Health Care Association. He oversees the Quality Department, which assists providers in their quality improvement efforts and works with administration officials on regulations and policies impacting the profession. Dr. Gifford serves on the Boards of the Advancing Excellence Long-term Care Collaborative and the Baldrige Foundation. He also chairs the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs Geriatric and Gerontology Advisory Committee, a congressional chartered committee to advise the U.S. Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs and Congress on geriatric services for veterans. He has served on numerous federal expert panels, including the CMS panel to develop the Quality Assurance & Performance Improvement program for nursing homes. Dr. Gifford is a former Director of the Rhode Island State Department of Health, where he received the National Governor’s Distinguished Service Award for State Officials for his management of the H1N1 influenza outbreak. In this role, he revamped the nursing home survey process to promote person-centered care practices. Prior to that, he served as Chief Medical Officer for Quality Partners of Rhode Island, where he directed the CMS national nursing home-based quality improvement effort.

Dr. Al Power worked as a geriatrician in long-term care communities for over 20 years. He led St. John’s Home in Rochester, NY in becoming the world’s largest Eden Alternative member home. He also helped St. John’s develop the only community-embedded Green House homes in the nation. Al is a former member of the Eden Alternative board of directors and a Certified Eden Educator. He is currently consulting with the Green House Project on their dementia educational tools. Al’s work in Canada includes assisting Schlegel Villages with their culture change journey, as well as their support of people living with dementia. Al is currently co-writing a book with Dr. Jennifer Carson on creating inclusive communities for people living with dementia.