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Eagle’s Trace welcomes new executive director

Stephen Aigner has long history with Erickson Living

Created date

March 20th, 2015
picture of new executive director

There’s a new leader at the helm of Trace, where Stephen Aigner, former associate executive director, recently moved into the executive director position.

Aigner, a Maryland native, began his career with Erickson Living at its Greenspring community in Northern Virginia in 2000. 

“My dad was a command sergeant major in the U.S. Army, so we moved around when I was younger,” says Aigner, who spent part of his childhood in Japan.

Aigner’s family eventually settled in Virginia, where Aigner began his undergraduate career at George Mason University.

“I waited tables in college and found myself moving in the direction of dining operations and management,” says Aigner, who received his degree in business management from Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Aigner worked in the restaurant industry until the late-night hours began to take a toll on his growing family. Aigner and his wife Lisa have two children, a daughter Maya and a son Matthew.

“I learned of an opening for a dining services manager at Greenspring,” says Aigner. “When I visited the community, I was blown away. It was so much more than I expected.”

Aigner went on to work in dining services at Erickson Living communities in Chicago, Ill., and Ashburn, Va. 

“I was the director of dining services at Ashby Ponds in Virginia when I took on the role of regional dining director,” says Aigner. “From there, I moved to Houston as the associate executive director of Eagle’s Trace.”

The Tribune recently sat down with Aigner to talk about his leadership style, the unique relationship between residents and staff, and what sets Eagle’s Trace apart from other communities.

Q: What three words would you use to describe your leadership style?

A: I would say that I’m “inclusive.” I like to make sure everyone has a voice. That’s particularly important here because this is our residents’ home. 

I’d also say that I’m “engaged.” One thing I’ve noticed about Eagle’s Trace is that people are proud to live here. They’re active and involved in the life of the community. I think it’s just as important for the staff to be engaged with our residents. 

And finally—this is more than one word—but “I think about the impact of each decision.” I want to be able to follow through on each decision or step we take to better the community. 

Q: What do you believe is the key to creating a rich and rewarding lifestyle for those who live at Eagle’s Trace?

A: I think that comes down to letting residents do what they enjoy. At last count, we have more than 80 clubs and activities at Eagle’s Trace, and they’re all resident-driven. 

It’s also important to recognize our residents’ contributions and accomplishments. For example, Merrilyn Meushaw is a talented artist and recently won an art contest sponsored by Rep. Jim Murphy. We want to encourage residents to pursue the activities that make them happy and fulfilled.

Q: What do you think are the best ways to help new residents build relationships within the community?

A: Get them involved. I think that starts even before people move to the community. They can begin to enjoy the amenities and build relationships so that it feels like home when they do move. One thing I noticed moving to Texas from Virginia, there’s just something about southern hospitality. Our residents and staff are some of the friendliest people I’ve met. It’s easy to feel welcomed here.