Nearly two decades ago, during an idyllic winter season in the Sunshine State, a simple task inspired Daniel Gomez to take a career path that would eventually lead him to The Glenview at Pelican Bay.
Originally from the frigid Chicago area, Daniel studied construction, engineering, and business in college. He worked outside, accustomed to bundling up in a Carhartt suit, complete with a skully hat, gloves, and full face covering. During the holidays in 2004, he visited his grandma, who had recently relocated to Orlando. When she asked him to collect the mail on Christmas Day, Daniel walked to the mailbox wearing flip-flops and shorts, surrounded by clear blue skies, and swaying palm trees. At that moment, Daniel decided to pack his bags and relocate to Florida after graduation.
Fast forward to today, Daniel, along with his wife and their 15-month-old son, moved to Naples so he could take on the role of executive director at The Glenview at Pelican Bay. We recently sat down with him to discuss his background and his first few months on the job.
Q: Tell us about your senior living background and how you came to The Glenview.
A: I worked for several general contractors that built medical facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living communities. When the recession hit in late 2007, I wondered what to do next. I worked through the struggle for a while, and then a buddy called asking if I wanted to be his assistant director of engineering at Florida Hospital. While working there, I became interested in becoming a CEO or administrator for the hospital with my background in business. I was advised to try the senior route first and went on to work as a nursing home administrator; I worked for skilled nursing communities and life plan communities, or continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) that offered independent living and higher levels of care.
I was a regional director of operations for a company outside of Boston that had purchased $100 million worth of assets in Florida, from assisted living to CCRCs, and that’s how I learned about The Glenview. When I saw the executive director position, I applied, and here I am today. Fifteen years after shifting careers, I’m still in senior living and loving every day that I’m here to help run the community, and hopefully change lives.
Q: What does your executive director role entail?
A: My role is like a general contractor, overseeing various departments and ensuring the overall community’s success. I meet with teams, set goals, and maintain financial accountability. I also engage with residents daily, handle administrative tasks, and address regulatory matters. In addition to being executive director, I’m also the licensed nursing home administrator for Premier Place, our onsite healthcare center, and GlenCare, which provides our home care offerings.
Since we operate as a co-op, the residents have equity ownership and a strong sense of investment in the community. As a result, I’ve developed a close working relationship with our actively involved board of directors, which has deepened my understanding of their roles and responsibilities. I also serve on multiple committees, including the board of directors, finance, landscape, dining, recreational, and healthcare committees.
Q: What unique qualities or approaches do you bring as executive director?
A: Before joining The Glenview, I worked at another community where I had the honor of living onsite as part of my relocation package. It was a unique experience because I saw firsthand what it’s like to be a resident. I faced the same daily challenges, like grocery shopping and navigating the building. You don’t always get to see these things when you work during regular business hours as an operator. I was dealing with fire alarms or power outages, and that gave me insight that’s been valuable in my current role. It’s helped me integrate myself into the community and open communication with residents to ensure we’re meeting their needs, and aligning those needs with our operational goals.
My leadership style is all about being an adaptive servant leader, someone who dives deep to provide strong support. I’ve worked in various roles within communities like this, from maintenance to dining, marketing, and the business office, so I understand the accountability each staff member holds, while also being mindful of the fact that things can happen both operationally and in personal lives that affect outcomes. And I have an open-door policy, so residents drop by any time to chat, offer suggestions, or voice concerns, which I address promptly.
Q: What are your initial impressions about The Glenview team?
A: During my first few weeks here, I met with directors and department heads to understand their work, identify opportunities for support, and look ahead to 2024. I asked about their experiences and histories here, what works well, and what we can do better. The Glenview’s team members are incredibly dedicated with quite a mix of experience, ranging from five to 30 years of service. My executive assistant started working here at 15. Our culinary director began as a server when she was a teenager. She even went to nursing school but chose to continue in the dining path and now heads our dining department. It’s amazing to see how much growth and opportunity there is within our team. Our director of nurses has been with us for 17 years. So, with all this history in the building, there’s a lot of room for us to come together, share our experiences, and set expectations collaboratively.
Q: What are your primary goals and priorities? Are there any upcoming enhancements or initiatives?
A: We’re working with Florida Power & Light to enhance our community’s power supply to better prepare us for the upcoming hurricane season. We’ve recently completed a community-wide paint project, replaced patio screens, and we are upgrading all exterior lights, including coach and wall sconces, to energy-efficient LEDs.
We’re one of the top preferred providers in Naples, so our primary goal is to nurture these meaningful relationships and work closely with both hospital systems. On the independent living front, we’ve got a strong program in place, so we’re exploring having an in-house health and wellness clinic with the potential to have a full-time doctor or nurse practitioner right here on site.
I see opportunities to enrich our recreational program, making it more engaging and active. I’m focusing on enhancing our activities and partnering with local universities to bring lectures to our community. We aim to continue learning in various areas, from recreational and financial topics to faith-based discussions, to support overall health and wellness. Plus, we’re planning some fun activities like dance groups.
Q: You spend time getting to know residents before they move into The Glenview. What are you learning from them?
A: During resident interviews, I ask about their specific needs. Many say they don’t want to burden their family; they want to be in a position where they can move forward through our healthcare offerings. They’re considering their future care and support needs, which may include light housekeeping, companionship with a private duty aide, assistance with morning routines, and help with transportation to local doctor’s appointments. They prefer to be in a community like ours so they don’t have to rely on family if they require elective surgery or care.
Most residents are proactive when moving in; they value their independence and engagement within our community and the Pelican Bay area. There are plenty of opportunities within a few blocks to maintain their independence and participate in activities, from shopping at high-end boutique stores and dining out to dance groups, museum visits, and local theater performances.
Q: How has your experience at The Glenview been so far?
A: The Glenview has an excellent reputation for taking great care of and showing appreciation for its employees, which comes with many perks. I enjoy seeing happy employees as I walk through the building; the atmosphere is incredibly positive. Everyone here goes above and beyond, using phrases like “It’s my pleasure” and “How may I help you?” Plus, it’s fantastic being part of the Pelican Bay community, an affluent area right off the beach and just a few steps away from the sand. We have a mantra here: The West Coast is the best coast!
Plan a visit to The Glenview and immerse yourself in the best of coastal living and an exceptional senior lifestyle community.