The Wellesley Council on Aging Board this week made its selection for the next director of senior services, choosing between two finalists with very different skill sets. One with a deep financial and business background, though also with solid credentials in elder services, and one with background as an attorney and more recently involved in gerontology research.
Following more than 90 minutes on interviews with the candidates followed by discussion, the Board chose Robert Connors, pending negotiation of compensation and benefits. He would replace Heather Munroe, who left in April after a little more than two years on the job (the 2021 annual town report listed her salary at about $95K).
(Update 8/2/22: A recording of the July 21 interview meeting has been pulled from Wellesley Media at the request of the Council on Aging.)
Connors explained a career shift into elder services over the past 10 or so years as having stemmed from the unexpected death of his father, who had big plans for post-retirement life cut short. “It was time for me to focus on things that had a little more personal and social impact other than just making money…” said Connors, who earned a master’s in gerontology in 2013.
The Council on Aging received more than 40 applications for the job posting, held four executive sessions to process that information, and whittled down finalists from six to two. Those two were Connors and Elaine Eliopoulos, an attorney who has also run an acupuncture business in Weston and is currently working on a Ph.D. in gerontology.
During the interview process with the board, Connors discussed his interest in the changes taking place in the world of elder services fueled by a “Silver Tsunami” in which 10,000 Americans a day are turning 65. Changes in everything from social to housing to tech will be “a launching point for a lot of things coming down the pike,” he said. While Connors works in elder services now, he acknowledged frustration with lots of turnover at his current workplace as one reason for possibly leaving.
In Wellesley, some 6,500 people out of our roughly 29,000 residents are seniors, according to Council on Aging board members. Connors said one thing that captured his attention after seeing the job opening was the Tolles Parsons Center that serves as senior central in town. The state-of-the-art nature of the facility “showed me a commitment to this cohort in the Wellesley community,” he said.
Connors said his goals would include bringing as many services as possible to a broad group of seniors.
Council on Aging Board Search Committee Chair Marlene Allen said during the post-interview discussion: “What I particularly like about Robert is his breadth of involvement in different things from deep into finance, and deep into business and deep into working with seniors…,” Allen said, noting his work as well in state and federal programs.