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A clear vision

Executive Director Jim Centola focused on long-term, sustained success for Linden Ponds

Created date

July 6th, 2016
Linden Ponds Executive Director Jim Centola.

Linden Ponds Executive Director Jim Centola.

Leadership changed hands at Linden Ponds earlier this year when Jim Centola took the helm as the community’s new executive director. Centola had previously worked as assistant executive director alongside former Executive Director Jim Wingardner, who assumed the executive director role at another Erickson Living community in Florida.

“I’m most excited about being afforded the opportunity to remain at Linden Ponds and lead this exceptional group of employees and serve our equally exceptional residents here in this community,” Centola says of his new position.

Centola brings more than 15 years of experience in the senior housing and health care industries to the executive office at Linden Ponds. 

He first joined the the Hingham community about five years ago as the director of continuing care. 

He previously worked for the Masonic Health System (MHS) of Massachusetts as a director of rehabilitation services and then as a nursing home administrator. While at MHS, Centola was involved in supporting the transition of moving MHS from a standalone skilled nursing facility to a complete continuing care retirement community. 

With a bachelor of science degree in physical therapy from Northeastern University and an M.B.A. from Assumption College, Centola began his career as a physical therapist, treating patients in a variety of outpatient settings in New England. He initially focused on orthopedics and sports medicine.

From sports to seniors

 “I then began to become more interested in treating the senior population and found working with this population to be extremely rewarding,” Centola says. “They were and are so appreciative of the care and services provided.”

Centola says his favorite aspect of working at Linden Ponds is the people, both residents and fellow employees. He has developed strong bonds with many people at the community and enjoys learning from one another’s life experiences. 

To stay in close contact with residents, Centola says he relies on a variety of types of communication, such as drop-in visits, phone calls and emails, impromptu conversations in the hallways, as well as more structured forums like focus groups, town hall meetings, and suggestion cards.

“I feel the residents and I have built a strong and respectful relationship with one another over the past several years. I really enjoy our visits together and learning their stories,” Centola says. “It never ceases to amaze me at the many accomplishments and successes our residents have achieved over the years, and the adversity many have had to endure and overcome.”

Golden rule of leadership

Centola’s philosophy when it comes to leadership is clear and simple: “My hope is that I am a leader I would follow.” 

He says he relies heavily on the golden rule of treating others the way he would like to be treated. He believes an effective leader must have a clear vision, what he calls a “destination.”

“To lead, one must have a place they are traveling to. A strong leader clearly communicates to those they are responsible for leading what this vision is and the goals necessary to achieve, to arrive at this destination,” Centola says. “For me, I follow a leader who respects me, cares about me, listens to me, allows my input—although may not agree with this input—can identify for me a destination and purpose, and in the end shares the credit among others and shuns the individual spotlight.”

As executive director, Centola says his top priority is long-term and sustained success for Linden Ponds, which he says is measured in a number of ways, including strong resident satisfaction, strong employee engagement, and strong financial performance. 

“We need to ensure our occupancy remains strong in both independent living and continuing care by ensuring the community remains positioned to meet the demands of our current and future residents,” Centola says. “We also need to ensure our health care delivery remains exceptional.”

When he is not busy working to ensure Linden Ponds’ long-term success, Centola stays physically active by running, cycling, hiking, and snowshoeing. He considers himself a lifelong learner and enjoys reading and attending classes and seminars. Centola and his wife live in Medway, Mass., and have three daughters who are in their twenties.