I heard through the grapevine a couple of weeks ago that ALFA was close to announcing a new Chief Executive Officer. 

Today, Wednesday December 3, 2014, it’s official. Effective mid-January James Balda will take over as the new ALFA Chief Executive Officer. You can see the entire press release at the end of this article.

Yesterday I received an advance copy of the press release along with the opportunity to do a short interview with James and Brenda Bacon, the CEO of Brandywine Senior Living and Chairperson of ALFA’s Board of Directors.   

The New ALFA

Over the last year there has been a real push to re-envision how ALFA serves both the seniors of this country and the members of ALFA. You may not have seen it yet, but over the next few months you will become familiar with the term “The New ALFA.” This is all about making ALFA a more effective organization in at least the following areas:

  • ALFA has become a bigger tent that includes independent living as well as assisted living and memory care. Independent living is being officially added because more and more senior living providers are serving both populations on the same campus and frequently in the same building. This also means you can expect a rebranding and a new name that better reflects this bigger tent.
  • There is a strong realization that the industry needs to do much more in the area of self-regulation. This means standards and credentialing.
  • The initial effort will be to work with an independent third party to create a credentialed executive director program.
  • They will also be working at creating standards that, at least initially, would look at the core knowledge and skill requirements for memory care.
  • I asked if standards would include staffing ratios and the answer was no, realizing that each community needs to have the freedom to run their communities in the way they feel best serves their residents.  
  • Because essentially all of the regulations regarding assisted living are done at the state level, there will be a focused effort to empower and support state ALFA organizations. 

James Balda

Prior to joining ALFA James was the Senior Vice President of Innovation and Business Development at the National Restaurant Association. We talked about why he is coming to ALFA. He said he was excited about the vitality of the industry and impressed with the goal and vision of the ALFA board. He is looking forward to working with the board to make the industry better for providers and seniors.

I asked him what things he had done at the Restaurant Association that would give him a head start in his new position. He listed three major initiatives that are closely aligned with the New ALFA:

  •  He worked with the national restaurant organization to better serve state restaurant associations.
  • He led a membership initiative that grew membership by 50%.
  • He lead a rebranding effort that, while it did not include a name change, did include a new logo, better branding and repositioning.

The whole process of creating a New ALFA is great news for the senior living industry. It means more sophistication. It means being able to drive the conversation about why senior living is good for the elders of the United States and Canada and what quality care does and should look like.

Steve Moran


ALFA Balda Press Release-12-13-14updated by seniorhousingforum