Recognizing Vassar Byrd

By on Jul 2, 2024 in Senior Living

Ready for insightful stories and advice from a senior living leader? Courtesy of the 2024 Changemakers series, presented by Senior Housing News (SHN) and sponsored by Yardi for the sixth consecutive year, industry visionaries are sharing their experiences through in-depth interviews.

Learn how Changemaker Vassar Byrd is driving positive change in senior living in this 2024 series by Yardi and Senior Housing News.

Today’s honoree in focus is Vassar Byrd, CEO at The Kendal Corporation. Her Changemaker interview covers her thoughts on diversity, risk-taking and growth — paired with examples from her career. Read on for a highlight.    

Say hello to Changemaker Vassar Byrd

SHN: Think about a time you implemented a change and things didn’t go according to plan, how did you pivot and what did you learn as a leader?

Vassar: There are so many failures. That’s part of not being afraid of change. The beauty of being a single-site is that, at that scale, you can afford to try new things and fail. The most important thing is to never fall in love with your own opinion. You’ve got to look for contrary voices. You’ve got to make sure that you don’t take yourself too seriously or your organization too seriously because we’re all just practicing all the time.

I was trying to think of a specific example that would be interesting, and I would say I failed over and over and over figuring out how to make our operations team work well at Rose Villa in particular. I’d get parts of it to work, and then the rest wouldn’t.

You have got to keep your eyes open to say, “Okay, that was not successful. Let’s try it this way.” It’s never going to be perfect, but you can get as close as possible.

SHN: Changemakers tend to be risk-takers. Do you agree with that statement? And how do you describe your own appetite for risk?

Vassar: I think people really misunderstand risk. Doing nothing is as risky as doing something. Doing nothing is a choice. For me, that’s a foundational principle. When you take into account that everything else around you is changing all the time, then doing nothing is even more risky than not changing. Why would you stand still if everything around you is changing?

I will say that I have a great appetite for perspective, and that’s the perspective that makes the risk not scary.

SHN: In what ways is Kendal is changing for the current times to be able to meet the demand?

Vassar: I would say that we are really focusing on how we can partner with different kinds of organizations. I would love to find other interest groups, other affinity groups, other areas where we can make a difference, to do something with that organization that neither one of us could do by ourselves.

Partnership is really key to diversifying who we are, diversifying the kinds of services that we offer, and the types of housing that we offer. Certainly, our Kendal at Home Affiliate is a huge part of the future. I’m super interested in growing that.

See more from Changemaker Vassar Byrd

Read Vassar Byrd’s full SHN interview. Don’t forget to continue visiting The Balance Sheet for the Changemaker interviews to come — released in batches as the series progresses.