Avenidas senior center head to step down

President and CEO Lisa Hendrickson will work on Palo Alto nonprofit's expansion plans

Lisa Hendrickson, president and CEO for the past 15 years of Avenidas, the Palo Alto senior-services nonprofit, has announced she will step down as the agency's leader to focus on Avenidas' plans for the future.

Those plans include the hopeful expansion of the nonprofit's Bryant Street center in downtown Palo Alto and ensuring that the 45-year-old organization ″will meet the needs of the next generation,″ she said in an announcement.

″I'm excited that I will continue working at Avenidas, just in a different capacity,″ she stated.

During her tenure, the organization built the Avenidas Rose Kleiner Center for seniors in Mountain View, which provides both an adult day care program and a separate day health program for those needing medical and other assistance.

The center's opening in 2005, she said, was one of the highlights of her years at Avenidas.

″It was a thrill to build that special-purpose building,″ she told the Weekly.

Under her leadership, the group also launched Avenidas Village in 2007, a program that provides daily, weekly and on-call services to older adults so that they can continue living in their own homes as they age.

″We were at the forefront of the 'village' movement. We were the sixth in the country,″ she said of the service that offers everything from daily phone check-ins to transportation to skilled nursing.

Now, there are more than 100 village programs nationwide. Avenidas Village has a membership of 400 people.

Though the modernization plan is still in the concept phase, Hendrickson said, the intent is to expand the historic Bryant Street building where the nonprofit offers activities such as yoga, memoir-writing and ukulele jam sessions.

But there will be hurdles, she said. The Spanish Colonial Revival building, once the city's police station, is 87 years old and was designed by famed local architect Birge Clark.

″We need to respect the historic characteristics of the building,″ she said.

In addition, it is owned by the City of Palo Alto, not the nonprofit. Avenidas will need to secure a new and longer lease, as the current one will expire in 14 years -- not enough time to justify the investment of an expansion, she said. But the organization is dedicated to the expansion project.

″We feel compelled to pursuit it because one-third of all Palo Altans are 55 and older. We're bursting at the seams here,″ she said. The modernized space needs to be attractive to Baby Boomers, she added.

The Avenidas board of directors has hired executive search firm m/Oppenheim Associates to launch a national search for a new CEO to head the agency, which has a $4 million operating budget. She said she expected it could take up to three months to find her successor but that whoever takes over will find the organization in good shape.

″The person who comes in is going to be in a great position to take it to the next level,″ Hendrickson said, adding that part of her new job will be to mentor and train the new president and CEO.

Hendrickson, who was awarded the Chamber of Commerce's Athena Award for outstanding professional woman in 2002, is an active board member of AvidBank. She worked in banking for 21 years and retired as a senior vice president at Wells Fargo Bank in 1996, according to the announcement.

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Like this comment
Posted by Marlene Prendergast
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 15, 2014 at 12:10 pm

All best wishes to Lisa Hendrickson in her new role and to the future of Avenidas!

Like this comment
Posted by Mel Matsumoto
a resident of University South
on May 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Lisa and Avenidas have been a gift to the community for many years. Thank you, Lisa, for a job well done.

Like this comment
Posted by Carroll Harrington
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Palo Alto is truly lucky to have Lisa at the helm of planning to meet the needs of the next generation of seniors. Her vision, knowledge and experience are unequally! She exemplifies the best of being an Athena Goddess awarded to her in 2002 for being an outstanding women in the community and in business.

Like this comment
Posted by Anna
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 15, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Lisa is a true gift to so many. I appreciate her leadership, kindness, and commitment.

Like this comment
Posted by A member of Avenidas
a resident of College Terrace
on May 15, 2014 at 4:02 pm

So glad Lisa will still be around to guide the organization into the new tech age.
Thank you Lisa!

Like this comment
Posted by Ellen Mastman
a resident of Downtown North
on May 15, 2014 at 7:05 pm

I have worked one day a week at Avenidas since about 1989. the special feelings of warmth and welcome always been pervasive. My gratitude to you for your contributions to making Avenidas a wonderful place to teach.

Like this comment
Posted by Paula Sandas
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2014 at 9:50 am

Congratulations, Lisa Hendrickson, on a job more than well-done at Avenidas. The community is lucky to have you continuing on in a new capacity! Cheers!

Like this comment
Posted by Thomas M. Pamilla
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Thank you, Lisa, for a job well-done and for all of your dedication and creativity.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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