Members of nonprofit boards are typically fierce advocates of the organization they serve. They freely donate their time, skills, energy and, many times, money to the cause. Board members also bring a host of new connections within the community and the business arena. The Independent Living Association’s Board of Directors, is composed of a group of compassionate men and women who bring a diverse set of backgrounds to the organization but all come together to ensure the continued growth and viability of ILA.
Lola Simpson has been a board member for four and one half years. Even though this is her first experience in the IDD community, her past and current career in the public and private sectors has added much to the board’s input for the organization. Currently Ms. Simpson is Senior Director for NYC Health and Hospitals where she oversees the Asthma and COPD Program across 11 acute hospitals and 6 clinics with a team of community health workers. She holds a Masters of Science degree in Public Policy and Management from the New School University and is a recipient of the LaGuardia Management Fellowship.
Ms. Simpson came to the board through a recommendation from a friend with a close connection to ILA. She knew her experiences and background in public policy, technology, and data driven solutions could bring a new perspective to ongoing issues. She immediately became involved in a number of issues such as how to improve vendor selection as well as staying current with quality assurance.
When asked what she saw as making ILA stand out in the IDD field, there was no hesitancy in her answers. Upon visiting a number of group houses, she felt like they were visits to real homes. They were all so well maintained with an excellent staff to patient ratio. The DSPs always acted professionally and were respectful of the residents. Families were always welcome to visit their loved ones who were taught independence and basic life skills.
Since staff is the backbone of the organization, Ms. Simpson is an advocate for the ILA employees. Being on the finance committee of the board, she is supportive of a salary rate increase knowing that recruiting quality staff is a constant challenge. She is proud of the fact that a Board initiative engaged a financial services firm to assist employees in the management of their retirement savings. And for further oversight, the financial firm oversees the performance of the funds within the menu of available investments.
Ms. Simpson is also proud of the Agency’s efforts during this most difficult pandemic year. Staff, leadership, families and the board all banded together to enhance ILA’s emergency management playbook so as to best protect the residents and employees. Learning how to handle PPEs, social distancing, and recently vaccinations was a steep but surmountable learning curve.
Ms. Simpson’s vision for ILA is to have this amazing organization move to the forefront nationally… to be a leader in the IDD community. The board, while not handling the day to day workings of the organization, must be an objective and far thinking arm of the organization. As Arthur Palevsky, the Executive Director says, the two most important attributes that the board brings to the organization are, “distance and wisdom. Distance to have a perspective of day to day challenges and the wisdom to bring new ideas and approaches to the organization.”
Lola Simpson, an integral ILA board member, brings not only distance and wisdom but also a great deal of compassion to this position. New board members are welcome and if interested, please contact Arthur Palevsky at 718-852-2000.