Personnel note: ALFA names James Balda president & CEO

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With an eye toward rebranding, the Assisted Living Federation of America named James Balda today as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective January 2015.

He replaces Richard Grimes, who retired in June.

By choosing Balda as leader, the association hopes to usher in a new era, which includes ambitious plans to enhance ALFA’s role in the fast growing assisted living industry.

Bringing nearly two decades of association experience, as well as a successful track record in business development, marketing and membership, Balda previously served as Senior Vice President of Innovation and Business Development for the National Restaurant Association. There, he played a major role in promoting the group’s image within the service industry.

“We are thrilled to welcome James to ALFA,” said Brandywine Senior Living CEO  Brenda Bacon, who also serves as chair of ALFA’s Board of Directors. “We look forward to working with him as the organization continues to evolve in order to provide even more value to our rapidly growing and essential industry.

“With James at the helm, the ‘new ALFA’ will develop professional standards promoting self-regulation and quality long term living choices. We are also creating credentialing programs for senior living professionals that will continue to build strong leaders and ensure the delivery of quality services and care to our residents as well as confidence from those who love them.”

Balda is excited for the challenge of supporting ALFA members as they shape the future by advocating quality choices in senior living.

“I also look forward to creating stronger partnerships with ALFA’s state chapters and affiliates as we work together to meet our common goals,” he said. “This is a very exciting time for ALFA.”

“The ‘new ALFA’ under James will work closely with state associations to provide the support they need to achieve optimum performance and quality service,” said California Assisted Living Association President Sally Michael. “I know James will lead ALFA to set the highest standards for senior living and educate ALFA members to drive continuous improvement. ALFA’s advocacy in Washington, combined with that of state associations throughout the country, focuses on ensuring the optimal lifestyle for seniors.”

Prior to the National Restaurant Association, Balda served as vice president of Member Services and Professional Development at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), where he was responsible for member services, professional training, customer service, and online publishing programs. Balda also held positions at the Health Insurance Association of America and the Newspaper Association of America..

Balda’s selection came after a national search conducted by the Executive Committee of the ALFA Board and led by the Korn Ferry executive search firm. Maribeth Bersani, ALFA’s senior vice president of public policy served as interim CEO trough the search.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.