Celebrating Kevin Gerber
Kevin Gerber started his service as the President and CEO of Covia in 2005, when it was still named the Episcopal Homes Foundation (EHF). When he arrived, there were five Life Plan Communities, two Affordable Communities, and a fledgling Community Services department, then called Social Benevolence. After 15 years of devoted service, Gerber is leaving Covia a healthy organization with a bright future ahead.
Kevin joined the organization with a heart of service and an ambitious purpose – to help people live well and age well anywhere they call home. His leadership provided strategic focus and solid planning, building the foundations of healthy communities, engaged residents and participants, enthusiastic staff, and greater good.
“I believe that Kevin’s leadership style stands out with the best I’ve seen in many years as a corporate officer and a consultant,” says Charlie Chapman, a resident at Spring Lake Village who also served many years on the Covia board of directors. “Kevin represents the gold standard for his knowledge and leadership in the not-for-profit senior living arena. His leadership style has allowed his team to be the best they could be in pursuit of our mission.”
“There were once only about 250 affordable housing apartments with EHF (which became Episcopal Senior Communities and now Covia), and now we’re over 1,000 apartments,” shares Karim Sultan, Vice President of Affordable Housing. “There was no Resident Services Coordinator program at Covia before Kevin. Now that program serves 3,500 low income seniors throughout the state of California. It really is a tribute to Kevin’s commitment and leadership in this area.” Resident Service Coordinators help affordable housing residents access services in the community at large to maintain their independence and quality of life.
The Community Services programs have also flourished under Kevin’s leadership. “I’m very proud of the Community Services programs” Kevin notes. “They’ve grown over these last 16 years: addressing social isolation, which has been particularly critical during COVID-19; addressing housing insecurity with our Home Match program; and then addressing the nutrition needs of older people living in the broader community.”
For all the progress and growth of the organization, it is Kevin’s kindness that stands out to both residents and staff.
“I feel like Kevin has always led with his heart,” says Tracy Powell, Vice President of Community Services. “That’s been the overarching value that has infused all his work and has touched all of us.”
Kevin has demonstrated his kindness on a personal level as many employees have been sharing stories of receiving personalized birthday cards and seeing Kevin take the time to help clean up after events.
Kevin explains, “I started working as a younger person as an orderly in a health care setting and I vowed to myself, I would never forget what that felt like, how hard that work is, and how oftentimes it is not recognized or rewarded.”
“I hope everyone in Covia knows that Kevin’s leadership in our field goes far beyond just the Covia walls,” says Jerry Brown, Senior Director of Affordable Housing. “He has influenced our field and national aging policy through serving on other member and community boards.”
Kevin’s leadership has included an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. “I feel very fortunate throughout my career and also my personal life that as a gay man I’ve been accepted, not only by my family, but also in the industry,” Kevin shared. “Early on, I was denied jobs because of that. But again I count myself very fortunate that with all of the employers I’ve had throughout the years, I’ve been able to be authentic and be who I am and not have to hide that.”
Kevin says that being President and CEO of Covia has been the culmination of his career. “I’m very grateful to be able to say that and that the job that I’m closing out my career with has been my favorite job.”
He notes that what he will miss the most are “the relationships with the residents,” He adds that, “This COVID year has been really, really difficult. Zoom is not the same as being able to see all of you in person, and I will miss that. I’ll miss the team, and I will miss all of our board members who have dedicated their time and their talent to seeing Covia grow and expand. And I am very hopeful, as we move into the affiliation with Front Porch, that that will all continue.”
*This article was originally shared in the Spring 2021 edition of Community Matters.