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People person

Oak Crest’s new executive director returns to what he loves most

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August 20th, 2013
Gary Hibbs
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In a time when the average worker stays at a job for 4.4 years, Gary Hibbs’ 18-year career with Erickson Living is rare. With nearly two decades under his belt at Erickson Living, the newly appointed executive director of Oak Crest approaches each day with the same enthusiasm and fervor as the first.

“I love what I do,” says Hibbs. “I’ve been blessed to have found something that is more than just a J-O-B. For me, this is more than a career; it’s a calling.”

Long-term relationship

In March of this year, Hibbs left his position as regional executive director for Erickson Living, where he oversaw eight Erickson Living communities in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Kansas, to accept his new position overseeing the daily operations at Oak Crest, a 90-acre community home to more than 2,100 residents and 1,000 employees.

Hibbs is familiar with the role thanks to his time serving as executive director of two Erickson Living communities in New Jersey and Michigan.

Hibbs is confident that his experiences both at the community level and regionally will help him lead Oak Crest into its next phase of growth.

“As we look ahead to the future here at Oak Crest, we want to do so in a way that honors the past,” says Hibbs. “Because the relationships, the sense of community—those are things that should never change. That’s what we are fundamentally about.”

Although all Erickson Living communities are built on the same philosophy, they each have their own local flavor. In the short time he’s been there, Hibbs says he has discovered one quality unique to Oak Crest:

“It is remarkable how many residents and staff knew each other prior to the community being built,” says Hibbs. “I’ve heard stories about people leaning across the table in the dining rooms and saying, ‘Wasn’t I in scouting with you?’ Or, ‘You were in my kindergarten class!’ People are reuniting after 50 or 60 years, and they’re also reconnecting with people from their neighborhood prior to moving here. It happens again and again and again. There is a real sense of home and community here that’s really powerful.”

Man of many hats

Hibbs, who earned his master of social work and juris doctorate degrees from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, is a certified licensed graduate social worker and a member of the Maryland Bar.

He received his nursing home administrator’s license while working with Global Health Management and has been licensed in Maryland and Michigan.

Prior to joining Erickson Living in 1995, Hibbs served as administrator of Wellington Manor, a long-term care facility in Clinton, Md. He previously practiced law with the Senior Citizen Law Project in Prince George’s County, Md.

Hibbs has worked with older adults in both local and national settings, having served with the Area Agency on Aging in both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, in Maryland. He has also worked with Congressman Claude Pepper in Washington, D.C., serving on the staff of the House Aging Committee’s Subcommittee on Health and Long Term Care.

A resident of Sykesville, Hibbs is a member of Crossroads Community Church, in Westminster, and enjoys reading and spending time with his wife Jennifer and their four kids, Anneliese, 21; Taylor, 19; Garlyn, 18; and Nathanael, 13.

Incidentally, Hibbs isn’t the only one in his family with ties to Erickson Living. While in high school, his eldest daughter worked as a server in one of the restaurants at Cedar Crest, in Pompton Plains, N.J.; his parents lived at Riderwood, in Silver Spring, Md., for eight years; and his brother Brad is the wellness manager at Greenspring, in Springfield, Va.

Dream job

So what’s the secret to his long-term success? Hibbs says it all goes back to the people who live and work there.

“Being in the community and interacting with the residents and staff every day is what I love; it’s like food for my soul,” says Hibbs. “There is a real magic you can literally see and feel here in the community, as the people who live here are experiencing some of the best years of their life.”

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