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First Class of ALFA Knights Advocate for Seniors

This year, ALFA introduced the ALFA Knight program, designed to encourage year-round advocacy and reward top advocates with a special distinction for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of senior living. This week, two individuals became the first members of this prestigious circle of advocates.

The ALFA Knight Program

Lisa Gaudioso

Featured in photo from left to right: Rick Grimes, President and CEO, ALFA; Lisa Gaudioso, Executive Director, Benchmark Senior Living; Stephanie Handelson, President and COO, Benchmark Senior Living.

“The Knight program is ALFA raising the bar of expectations for our advocates,” said Justin Worrell, ALFA’s Assistant Director of Government Relations. “We honor those who contribute across the advocacy spectrum and are strong voices for the principles of senior living on behalf of the residents served across the US."

Worrell coined the chivalrous name after examining the qualities of ALFA’s upstanding advocates for senior living.

ALFA Knights must be altruistic and virtuous, always concerning themselves with the wellbeing of all seniors and fighting for their safety. They must be righteous and tough, taking the high ground and be willing to do everything necessary to accomplish what they believe in. Lastly, Knights must take action and protect their people – truly advocate for the best interests of the seniors they serve. 

After developing the premise of the program, Worrell determined the criteria needed for advocates to prove they were worthy of being deemed ALFA Knights. Each condition confirms not only their loyalty to senior living, but also to the seniors and families they serve.

The First to be Knighted 

For Lisa Gaudioso, who was honored as the first Knight September 17, 2013 at the ALFA Advocacy Fly-In, advocating for seniors is both a personal and professional endeavor. 

“Improving the quality of life for seniors is not just my career, it’s my passion,” said Gaudioso, Executive Director of The Village at Mariner's Point, a Benchmark Senior Living community located in East Haven, Connecticut. “There is no greater feeling then knowing you make a difference in your resident’s lives on a daily basis.”

Sen Blumenthal Benchmark Event

Sen. Richard Blumenthal spoke to constituents at Gaudioso's community, The Village at Mariner's Point.

Fellow Benchmark Executive Director Lee Ann Tyburski, who leads The Village at South Farms community in Middletown, Connecticut, also completed the criteria for Knighthood. Tyburski believes seniors are underrepresented in today’s world, and says that senior living communities can be a place where they can maintain their sense of independence while experiencing the benefits of aging in a comfortable, home-like environment.

Both Tyburski and Gaudioso attended a Legislative Breakfast earlier this year in Connecticut. Legislators discussed issues impacting health care, and the event provided both executive directors with an opportunity to speak with state Legislators about issues impacting seniors. 

Gaudioso partnered with VITAS Innovative Hospice Care to coordinate a Veteran’s Wall dedication at her community, held to honor the community’s veterans for their service and dedication to our country. Senator Richard Blumenthal (pictured right) was on hand to speak at the event, while East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo and a representative from Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s office also attended. “We were able to create an inspiring, emotional event,” said Gaudioso. “Both teams worked very hard to ensure the day was a success.”

Working with the Chamber of Commerce, Tyburski arranged for Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman to speak at The Village at South Farms. Tyburski also used this as an opportunity to give the Lt. Gov.  a firsthand look at an assisted living community and educate her about how beneficial assisted living can be for seniors.

Why Should You Strive for Knighthood?

While ALFA Knights receive special distinctions for their advocacy, the real payoff is in the results their efforts achieve. At the end of the day, they know they have done their best to support choice, dignity, independence, and quality of life for all seniors.

“Supporting ALFA and its programs is imperative for the continued success of senior living.  Every senior living executive should strive to become an ALFA Knight and show his or her commitment to our industry,” said Gaudioso.

“If you are a senior living executive, then seniors are your business, and likely your passion.  Your voice is important to your seniors – be heard,” added Tyburski.

ALFA Knight

Do you have what it takes to be an ALFA Knight?

  • Attend ALFA’s Fly-In in Washington, DC; or attend a State Affiliate/Chapter Advocacy Day
  • Coordinate or attend a district event for federal or state elected official (e.g., hold district meeting with congressional staff, arrange community tour for elected official)
  • Send three or more letters to your federal or state delegation from ALFA’s Online Action Center

Visit alfa.org/knight to apply or learn more about the ALFA Knight program.



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