Steve Rallison sits next to Cedar Sinai Park Executive Assistant Angela Deverell developing a new calendaring system for board communications. He has just left Executive Director Kimberly Fuson’s office after a meeting regarding the structure and frequency of board get-togethers. Up next is a briefing with Human Resource Director Geneva Dougal about staff hiring and retention.
And that is just July 1, 2022—the first day Steve officially became Cedar Sinai Park’s new board chair.
“I am at the stage of life where I can choose my passions and projects,” said Steve.
Lucky for Cedar Sinai Park that the longtime senior services organization is both to Steve, who founded Performance Improvement Resources 18 years ago, a company specializing in strategic positioning, governance, and operational issues for healthcare organizations. “I’ve spent my career leading hospitals, working with physicians and practices, and I consider spaces where major life events happen to be sacred,” said Steve, 72. “I feel that way about Cedar Sinai Park, which has existed for an amazing 102 years. It’s my honor and privilege to serve as chair of the board of trustees.”
Steve believes Cedar Sinai Park is at an important juncture with great opportunity.
“It’s not without risks, though,” he said, “especially with Covid not yet in the rearview mirror, but we can create a sustainable, competitive Cedar Sinai Park. We must look forward and move forward.” “My beautiful wife, Sharon Stern, is Jewish, and I always say ‘a good Mormon boy meets a good Jewish girl,’” said Steve with a chuckle. “The rest is magic. We have great unity in loving God and our neighbors. The 10 commandments are a guide to all of us, not just those in the Jewish faith.
“And the fifth commandment of loving our fathers and mothers is one I take very seriously. It’s deeply engrained in me. I’ve studied it. I think about it. And I try to live my life to those commitments.
“I believe that we are here on earth to bear one another’s burdens. We are here to mourn with those who mourn and we are here to comfort one another and to rejoice with one another.”
The fifth commandment of loving our fathers and mothers is one I take very seriously.
Steve was born in Utah, and moved to Oregon as a young boy in 1957. He has a bachelor of science in sociology from Brigham Young University, and a master’s of health administration from Washington University in St. Louis.
His 30-plus years of healthcare experience include leading large hospitals in Illinois and Michigan, leading a large multispecialty group practice in Minnesota, and consulting throughout the United States.
“I have gone into some exceedingly difficult situations where key people have died or there have been embezzlements or other cases where organizations have lost their way financially or strategically and no one knows what to do,” said the becalming Steve. “I come in and get things settled down and then get everyone focused and aligned so the organization can move forward.” That background is how Steve believes he can help Cedar Sinai Park.
“Cedar Sinai Park is unique in today’s world where most assisted living and long-term care homes are owned and operated by for-profit corporate entities whose headquarters dictate what and how things are done. What a great tribute it is to the Jewish community of Portland for its continued support to get us this far! But we cannot be stuck in the wonderful events of the past to move forward.
“We want Cedar Sinai Park to become the preferred place for people and families who need the services we offer; the light on the hill, if you will. We are guided by the fifth commandment to honor our parents and also the commandment to love our neighbors, and we have the found of our Jewish legacy and the desire and will to be a leader in delivering senior services that are unparalleled in the Portland area.
Cedar Sinai Park is unique in today’s world where most assisted living and long-term care homes are owned and operated by for-profit corporate entities whose headquarters dictate what and how things are done.
To become that preferred place, Steve said steps must be taken to improve financial stability and sustainability. “Our priorities are to find and retain staff, improve occupancy, improve data, make strategic forward-thinking decision, and build a culture of community. We have the staff and management to make this happen.”
Steve believes the culture of community, especially, is key for a vibrant future for the organization.
“When you look at the changing world and not just the change in demographics, it’s how we are all aging and what we expect out of our aging experience. None of us want to be institutionalized. We all want to have the opportunity to express ourselves, and to continue achieving our life goals. We want to feel connected, be known, and feel part of a community.
“What we have to do is create a culture that is so welcoming that it validates who you are and what you want to accomplish at this stage of your life. We aren’t going to compete with other places that may have shiny buildings or amenities. But we can be a place people choose because of the meaningful interconnections made with the staff, the families, and everybody in the community.”
Steve and Sharon have 14 grandchildren, nine in Israel. They are avid hikers and bikers and like to take road trips with “binoculars, bird guides, and bird watching apps” on their phones. Steve also likes to garden and harvests fruit and vegetables for his neighbors. He consults occasionally, but most of the time he is engaged in interfaith activities. He is also on the board of Black Men IN Training.
“I am committed, on behalf of the board of trustees, that we will put forward our best efforts as stewards of Cedar Sinai Park to work closely with management team staff, residents, and families to move us forward in the coming fiscal year,” said Steve. “I hope that our community will engage with us to be part of the culture of community as future board members, as residents, volunteers, donors, or friends of Cedar Sinai Park. We welcome everyone’s voice and involvement.
“We are all in charge of the destiny of Cedar Sinai Park.”