SAAA names new executive director

By Kim Walter

The Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging has selected Catherine Galvin as its new executive director.

Travis Clark, SAAA board chairman, said there were around 25 candidates for the executive director position. However, he said after interviewing and checking references, Galvin was the clear choice.

“Cathy has stayed very active in aging services since being with us, so she knows the industry,” he said. “We knew she was a proven leader. She led SAAA for 10 years.”

All her references used the word integrity when describing Galvin, Clark added.

Galvin isn’t new to the aging services field — in fact, she isn’t new to SAAA either. From 1992 – 2002, she was the agency’s executive director.

For the past 11 years, Galvin has played several roles in improving the lives of area seniors. She was an assistant director and consultant with Northwestern Health Systems Agency in Charlottesville, and worked in the planning department of Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg.

From 2006 – 2012, she worked at a neighboring agency on aging as director of senior services for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County at Valley Program for Aging Services. For the past year, she was the director of program development for the Harrisonburg Community Health Center.

In looking for a new leader, Clark said it was important that the person have knowledge of SAAA’s current services, as well as how it could evolve moving forward.

Clark referenced the “rough patch” that the agency has experienced over the past two years, which included an uncovering of embezzlement and the firings of several administrators.

“Everyone has been working hard to maintain what we have and what we do,” he said. “Because of that, we haven’t been able to do a lot of planning.”

In hiring Galvin, Clark said he is confident that she has the ability to put a “strategic vision” in to place. He said her vision will lead the agency into the future, with the sole purpose of better serving seniors in the region.

He’s also looking forward to the fact that Galvin brings a unique blend of history with the agency, and a “fresh perspective.”

Galvin will begin meeting with administrative staff almost immediately, but she officially moves into her office and becomes executive director on Oct. 15.

In her letter to the board, Galvin stated that she has been in aging services for the past 30 years, and hopes to bring SAAA “back to the basics” and redesign some services to better meet the current need and create new services that would provide support to caregivers.

“Additionally, I would hope that I could help SAAA create an environment where partnerships with community providers are enhanced and where staff contributions are valued and where creativity is encouraged and rewarded, whenever possible,” she wrote.

SAAA will now have 10 full-time and 43 part-time employees.

Clark said he was encouraged when he found out that Galvin, among many other candidates, was interested in the executive director position.

“Even after all this agency has been through, people still want to be a part of it,” he said. “With Cathy coming back, I think it speaks a lot to what people think of our mission at SAAA.”

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com