Since stepping down as NIC’s CEO in 2017, Bob Kramer has shifted his role with the organization from its leader to its resident “agent provocateur.” Now, he’ll spend less time doing that, too — but that doesn’t mean he’s leaving the senior living industry or NIC, either.
Kramer just wrapped up a two-and-a-half-year period in which he acted as a full-time strategic advisor for the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), the senior housing and care nonprofit he founded in 1991. At the start of 2020, he and NIC agreed to scale back his role, from spending more than 55 hours a week with the organization before, to just 20 to 25 hours a week.
“I’m by no means walking away or disengaging from NIC,” Kramer told Senior Housing News. “I just wanted freedom to do some other things.”
Those other things include becoming an investor in ventures he believes in, and challenging “language and paradigms” that he sees as problematic in senior living.
To the casual observer, it may not appear as though Kramer has changed his role at NIC at all. He’ll still moderate the plenary session at the upcoming NIC Spring Conference in San Diego, curate and present the organization’s NIC Talks at the fall conference and continue to write blog posts on NIC’s website. He’ll also continue to publicly speak and attend events that lie on the periphery of the senior housing industry.
And, most importantly, he’ll still act as a thought leader in identifying and tackling some of the senior living industry’s biggest opportunities and challenges.
“As my board has described my role … I’m one part ice-cutter, one part scout and one part ambassador, and I’ll continue to do those things for NIC,” Kramer said. “I go to events outside the industry, and then report back and share my observations both with our industry and with NIC, and then with those sectors.”
For instance, he is increasingly speaking at acute care events and translating what he sees in the health care space into what it could mean for senior care, and vice versa.
The newly scaled-down role also gives Kramer more freedom to work with companies he feels have the ability to affect the senior living industry. One such endeavor is as an investor with Kare, a newly launched app that matches caregivers, medication aides and nurses who want work with assisted living communities, skilled nursing facilities and other settings where older adults receive care.
“I expect to provide advice to them as they seek to be a leading solution … to one of the most pressing problems for operators in the industry today: the high cost of overtime, and especially agency labor, to fill staffing gaps and shortfalls,” Kramer said.
Kramer will also explore ways to work with other companies that are addressing the industry’s biggest current challenges. Top of mind for him now is finding ways to reach the middle-market, solving the staffing crisis, helping the senior living industry build culture and generally rethinking the available senior housing options for residents.
“We have language and paradigms that need to be challenged, and I’m going to challenge them,” Kramer said. “If I think companies are doing some of the right things that can really move our industry in the right direction, I’m going to seek to help them in any way I can.”
And, in reducing his role with NIC, Kramer is also making another investment — in his family.
“My wife has waited a long time for me to not be working 70-plus hours a week,” he said. “We’ve got seven grandkids, and that’s a wonderful phase of life for us and for them.”