Orleans COA Director To Head Harwich Senior Center

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Aging

Judi Wilson has been hired as the new Council on Aging Director for the town of Harwich. COURTESY PHOTO

HARWICH — The town of Orleans will be looking for a new executive director of its council on aging after Harwich Selectmen confirm the appointment of Judi Wilson as the town's new director of the council on aging.

Wilson replaces Barbara Anne Foley, who retired on July 3 after 18 years as director. She and her husband are taking over management of the Commodore Inn in West Harwich. Wilson is scheduled to start her new position on Sept. 5.

Speaking of her decision to take the Harwich position, Wilson said on Tuesday that she worked through the transition and leadership at the Orleans Council on Aging and it seemed like “a good time for a change.” Wilson said

she worked as a case manager in Harwich in 1988 for Elder Services, lived here and liked the community.

“I'm looking forward to meeting the people and working with the team that is in place,” she said.

There are no big plans for change, she said, adding that it is important to get to know the staff and board members before talking about plans moving forward.

She was chosen for the position from among 11 applicants, Town Administrator Christopher Clark said on Monday. After Foley sent in her retirement notice, he put together a six-member interview team which reviewed resumes and conducted three finalist interviews from July 26 through 28. Following the July 28 interviews, “Utilizing the evaluation scores and after careful and courteous discussion, the team unanimously selected Judith 'Judi' Wilson as the top candidate,” Clark stated.

Clark said Wilson has been the executive director of the Orleans Council on Aging for five years and previous to that served as a COA director in Chatham, leaving that post in 1995 to raise her children. He said she has more than 20 years of cumulative experience in the council on aging field and Elder Services. Wilson has a bachelor's degree in sociology with a concentration in social work from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

“She's a seasoned, experienced professional,” Clark said of Wilson. “It's rare that you do these interviews and have an impression of the ideal candidate and that person fills the bill as an ideal candidate.”

The Orleans Council on Aging was on Clark's radar screen because of the adult day care program it provides for people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The program is a regional one which accepts attendees from neighboring towns.

“It made sense to partner up with them,” Clark said of the town covering cost that are not absorbed by the commonwealth for the senior care program.

Pointing out Foley and COA staffer Gale Barnes, who served the town for 21 years, both left their positions in July, Clark said it is a good time to look at the needs and whether to expand programs. There have been two program additions since he stepped in as interim director, including a Death Cafe discussion and a senior sailing program at Pleasant Bay Community Boating.

He said Wilson's years of experience should be serve the department well. The recent Barnstable County Probate Court decision allowing the nearly $700,000 raised over a 40-year period by the Friends of the Council on Aging to build a new senior center to be re-directed to programs in the COA, such as counseling, facilities and education to benefit seniors, will provide a buffer for the program.

“The thing I like is she has passion for it,” Clark said.

Clark said Wilson will take “a little cut in pay, but she feels the town of Harwich is a better place at this point in her career. She will do good things for us, she will set the world on fire.”

Wilson will receive a starting salary of $71,768 and three weeks vacation. Clark, citing the reduction in pay, said the better value and more work they get out of her, the better the opportunity will be to change the job description and make a pay adjustment.