Looking for Mr./Mrs. Right

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In the wake of Tom Connaughton’s announced departure as AAHomecare CEO, Chairman Steve Knoll and Incoming Chair Joel Mills have begun to receive the names of possible candidates for the open post. They planned to begin interviewing candidates for a new CEO April 14.
The wish list of qualifications for the new CEO mirror the strengths that Tom Connaughton brought to the table when he signed on three years ago.

“We’re looking for someone with knowledge of healthcare and health issues, credibility on the Hill and contacts on the Hill,” said Knoll. “We also need a leader who can integrate a diverse membership, and who can get all the lobbyists that work in the industry on the same page.”

When Knoll and Mills narrow the field to a handful of candidates, the AAHomecare chair said they would “work in a wider circle than just the two of us,” to select the new CEO.

At VGM, Vice President of Government Affairs John Gallagher said the association should troll for someone who is “already well-respected on the Hill — somebody who can open some doors for us, who has political savvy on the Hill, and is willing to pound leather on the pavement.”

Like Knoll, Gallagher believes the ability to manage disparate interests will be critical for the new chief, someone who can manage the sometimes “conflicting issues” of HMEs and HHAs.

Corinne Parver, a former NAMES CEO and now a healthcare attorney at Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky in Washington, said the pool of candidates who have experience in lobbying, trade associations, and healthcare in the city is good.
“When I vied for the job in early 1990, there were eight people in the running,” she said. “All of them except one were in trade or professional associations.”

Parver and Dave Williams, Invacare’s director of government relations, believe that Connaughton has returned the HME industry’s political representation to a solid footing. “He has given the association a sense of vision and purpose,” said Williams.

In a successor, Williams believes the association should also look for someone who is “attractive to the media,” who can cross the bridge from industry-specific to mainstream appeal and speak passionately about home care. HME