EMERGE - a growing network of leaders
Engage Magazine Spring/Summer 2021

EMERGE: A Growing Network of Leaders

by Kay Kallander, former Vice President for Strategic Planning, ABHOW (retired)

Larry Minnix, former President and CEO of the national LeadingAge organization, asked the question to leaders in the field of senior services, “What keeps you up at night?” He was surprised by the universal response: “Where are the leaders of tomorrow going to come from?” 

Kay Kallander, EMERGEHis commitment to that question led to the creation of the AAHSA Academy, now known as Larry Minnix Leadership Academy. He invited several nationally known educators and practitioners to create and launch the program in 2007. The goal was to identify upcoming leaders within its membership throughout the country and to create a year-long learning experience combining Leadership Theory, Member Site Visits, Leaders in Residence, Study Circles and Action Learning Process.

The program was very successful and nominations far exceeded the 32 positions annually from throughout the country. The program has continued, and as of this year there are over 500 graduates.

I was privileged to be a part of the national program from its first class as a coach while I was serving on the LeadingAge California Board of Directors.  There was much interest in the program from the California members as they were facing the same question as future leaders in the field. We recognized the need to have representatives from member states across America and realized that with only 32 positions available annually, California would not be able to have an adequate number of fellows in the national program to meet its upcoming and critical needs.

It became clear that we needed a California-specific program in addition to the national one. LeadingAge California CEO Joanne Handy was in full support and provided staff support. Dr. Michele Holleran and I were the original co-facilitators for the newly-created EMERGE program, having worked together for several years in the national program.

We would use the same format and learning experiences. All coaches were graduates of the national program. 

The first EMERGE class launched in 2010. The fellows, facilitators and coaches met four times a year traveling to different locations and communities within California. The fellows learned from local leaders, were introduced to best practices, and created their individual Action Learning Projects, which were practical responses to identified challenges in their own communities. It was a tangible way to give back to the communities directly. These projects were also made available to other member organizations. 

Over the years, EMERGE has seen a growing network of California fellows. Their experiences and projects have been an outstanding contribution to LeadingAge California. EMERGE is currently in excellent hands under Matthew Neeley and Christina Cerrato as co-facilitators. The many coaches and speakers over the years have been in inspiration to the fellows. With this year’s graduating class there will be 212 EMERGE graduates.

The goal in 2010 of ensuring that California would have excellent leaders for its future has clearly been met. As one looks across the state to its communities, organizations as well as the EMERGE leadership, one can see the success of the original vision of Larry Minnix and the commitment of earlier California leaders.