Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Letter from John M. Thompson, Executive Director of the Office on Aging

Dear Colleagues,

It is with mixed emotions that I announce my resignation as Executive Director of the District of Columbia Office on Aging (DCOA) effective Monday, June 29, 2015.

Since joining DCOA in March 2011, I have been blessed to work with many talented professionals within District Government and around our great nation. I must say that since 2011, we have built a governmental agency that has experienced so many wonderful accomplishments. Our efforts have led to the completion of the first senior needs assessment in over three decades and the development of the agency’s five year strategic plan, which includes decentralizing the Aging and Disability Resource Center and transforming Washington, D.C. into an age-friendly city (AFC). I can confidently say that we have met 75% of the strategic goals and we have two years remaining to reach 100% of the goals once we fully satisfy the World Health Organization’s requirements for AFC.

In addition to the strategic plan, we have transformed from an agency in 2011 with only 25 full-time equivalents (FTEs) and a budget of $26 million to an agency in 2015 with 76 FTEs and a budget of $43.5 million. We streamlined services for seniors and persons with disabilities by acquiring the Commodity Supplemental Food Program from the Department of Health and secured an extremely capable partner with the Capital Area Food Bank. We also acquired the Money Follows the Person Program from the Department of Health Care Finance, which has helped us to move more citizens from institutional settings back into the community. This is the humanistic approach, but also a great way to preserve the Medicaid budget.

Our agency has also been instrumental in establishing the District’s Silver Alert System. I am confident that through this system, numerous District governmental agencies and private organizations will continue to work tirelessly in locating missing seniors and ensuring that they return home safely. In addition, we have partnered with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide the Money Smart training program to our seniors. It is our best defense to reduce financial exploitation among the senior population. Because of this great work, we have been honored by Acting U.S. Attorney Vincent Cohen.

Moreover, we have established a number of new programs including the Senior Symposium, Nursing Home Transition Program, the Volunteer Ambassador Program, the Senior Home Repair Intergenerational Program, the Pre-K Intergenerational Program, Call-In-Talk Line, First Responders Program, and the Falls Prevention Home Assessment Program.

I am also pleased that we were able to overhaul senior transportation that resulted in a 3-week reduction in wait time and increased access to new destination points across the city. It is worth mentioning that because of the hard work of the team, we have been nationally recognized by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging for establishing a best practice in transportation with the advent of the Seabury Connector Card, which provides seniors with increased transportation options.

Thank you for partnering with DCOA during my four years and four months here! Although it is time for me to close this chapter in my life, I am confident that my dedicated colleagues at the agency will continue to serve the District most vulnerable citizens.


John M. Thompson

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