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Missoula Aging Services announced today that Susan Kohler plans to retire as Chief Executive Officer in March of 2022. She will continue to serve as the CEO until a successor has been named. Because of her incredible passion and commitment to older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers, Susan has served for 33 years as the CEO of Missoula Aging Services (MAS).

During her tenure, Susan has not only successfully led the agency as a vital community resource for older adults, but she has helped oversee the organization’s ongoing growth and expansion of services to meet the evolving needs of older adults in Missoula County and throughout the state of Montana.

Susan joined Missoula Aging Services in 1983 and has served as the Chief Executive Officer since 1989. Throughout her career, Susan has been a leading advocate for older adults in Montana. Her expertise with seniors living in rural settings has been invaluable at the national level in shaping policy. Senator Max Baucus appointed her twice as a representative to the White House Conference on Aging, and Susan has presented to numerous local, regional, and national conferences addressing issues that impact older adults.

On the state level, Susan has served as Legislative Committee Chair of the Montana Area Agencies on Aging Association. In addition, she has relished the opportunity to drive older Montanans to Helena during legislative sessions to share their stories. Many older adults are invisible to the community at large due to social isolation and lack of mobility, and Susan has worked hard to make sure their voices are heard. Overall, Susan has advocated for policies that ensure older Montanans can age with dignity and remain healthy and independent for as long as possible in their own homes and communities.

“Susan’s been an inspiring role model to community partners as well as to the staff she leads and has set MAS up for success for whoever steps in as CEO. That said, Susan will be greatly missed,” said Renee Labrie-Shanks, a longtime MAS staff member.

Over the years, Susan has positioned the agency to take advantage of opportunities that improve the long-term care system for older Montanans. Missoula Aging Services has received many grant opportunities that were successfully implemented under Susan’s leadership. Programs developed include piloting the first Care Transitions program in the state, a hospital-to-home model for successful rehabilitation, Veteran Directed Care to help veterans manage their caregiving needs, Community Living programs and education, Resource Counseling, Nutrition Services, and Family Caregiver Support to name a few.

Susan also implemented the first AmeriCorps Seniors program in the state in recognition of the profound impact volunteers have within the community. During the last fiscal year alone, 389 Missoula Aging Services volunteers served over 32,000 hours with 39 local public, nonprofit, private and government agencies. Under her leadership, Missoula Aging Services took on the task of launching the state-wide Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program, utilizing volunteers to combat Medicare waste, fraud, and abuse. Over 12,000 Medicare beneficiaries were educated and assisted across the state by this program just last year. Most recently, Susan assisted with the Dementia Friendly Missoula initiative which advocates for a more livable community for those experiencing dementia-related diseases.

Guided by the mission, vision and strategic priorities of Missoula Aging Services, the Governing Board has formed a committee to begin the search for a new CEO. The MAS Succession Committee includes representatives of the Missoula community in addition to the MAS Governing Board members and staff.

Inquiries can be emailed to Sherrie Sorenson, Human Resources Director.

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