Meet Gary Adams, Director of Operations

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Gary Adams has been a part of our team for 15 years, and during that time has proven again and again how committed he is to our residents and making sure their experience at our communities is the best it can be. He has recently been promoted to Director of Operations.


From Retail to Affordable Housing

Gary grew up in Gurnee, Illinois and graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. He is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Illinois. After graduating, he started working in auditing and accounting-related positions for retail businesses such as Walgreens and Claire’s. He worked at Claire’s for 17 years, the last six as Vice President.

15 years ago, Gary pivoted from Claire’s to Embrace Living Communities, where he began as an Accounting Manager. After some downsizing at the organization, Gary’s original position was eliminated. However, the Vice President of Operations at the time approached Gary about making a switch to property management. She recognized something in him and convinced him to become a Lead Manager.

He started at our Woodlawn II community in south Chicago, later transferred to Patten House and eventually decided he no longer wanted to shovel snow in Chicago and transferred to our Apostles Village community in Florida.


New Initiatives as Director of Operations

This year, Gary was promoted from Lead Manager to Director of Operations. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity because it made sense as a next step, and he has many ideas for initiatives that he believes can improve efficiencies and ultimately make staff and residents’ lives better.

Some of these initiatives include restructuring internal reviews to more closely mirror the standards set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD has certain requirements affordable housing communities must meet, and Gary believes he can help us continue to exceed those requirements more efficiently.

Gary also has plans for standardizing forms and making a central, digital space for them so that everybody has easy access. This supports our managers and increases productivity.

In the immediate future, Gary’s priority is settling into the role and gaining a deeper understanding of how things have been done under past Directors. Though he has the experience and background necessary for this role, it takes time to build a structure for a new position and get organized.


A Heart for People and Growth

What initially attracted Gary to join our team was that he was interested in nonprofit work. He wanted to give to the community and help others. He’s thankful that the community he’s been able to give to has given back to him. While at Embrace Living, he has been presented with professional development opportunities such as attending the LeadingAge national and state-level conferences. He’s also been able to attend certification classes, including ones that resulted in his becoming a Master Certified Occupancy Specialist and a Certified Aging Services Professional.

Gary is thankful for the residents he gets to interact with every day and makes a point to make sure they know he’s there for them.

“My interactions with residents are respectful and meaningful,” says Gary. “I operate by the rules, and they are administered fairly and with a sense of understanding. I do whatever I can to make residents proud of where they live, maintaining properties at the highest level possible.”

He hopes that through this position, he can continue to meet residents and team members at even more communities and be a trusted resource and advocate for them.

“Now that I’ll be overseeing 30 properties rather than one, I’ll be the person that people know they can go to if they have additional questions beyond their current management,” says Gary. “My dealings with residents, even in difficult situations, are taken well. I tended not to have issues at the properties I managed. I lead with a caring attitude, working with others to get to agreements.”


Living Out the Mission

Gary has many cherished memories of working with residents, but one that stands out to him is from his time at Woodlawn II. One day, a guest trailed mud through the lobby and across the carpeting, which had just been cleaned. His team was busy turning over a vacant unit, so Gary got on his hands and knees and scrubbed the dirt off the carpet. While on the floor, a resident named Mr. Caldwell stepped off the elevator, saw what Gary was doing, and said, “Now, there’s a manager that cares about his residents.”

“You do what you have to do,” says Gary. “No job is beneath you; you’re part of the team.”

When asked how he’d characterize the community at Embrace Living, he said it’s like one big family. He wants to help facilitate that through his new role, specifically through our Annual Meeting, which will return for the first time since 2019.

“Gary’s tenure at Embrace Living has touched every aspect of our organization, and his experience and leadership make him the perfect choice to lead as the Director of Operations,” says Embrace Living CEO Ralph Gaines.

“I want to do something that helps people in need and makes a positive difference in their lives,” says Gary. “Embracing living is realizing you have 24 hours to spend every day. I want to use those wisely and prioritize things that are important. Taking care of our residents is a great way to embrace living.”