Silver Key hires CEO with profit/nonprofit background

       Patricia Ellis, whose experience spans the business worlds of for-profits and non-profits, started this week as the new CEO for Silver Key Senior Services.

Patricia Ellis
Westside Pioneer photo

       “The aging population is near and dear to my heart because I've been fortunate to have grandparents and parents still alive,” she said in a phone interview. “I recognize the challenges for the senior population as they age.”
       The hiring decision by the Silver Key Board of Directors followed a search effort that lasted about five months. Interim CEO Robin McGrath had led the nonprofit agency since March, after former CEO David Shaffer resigned unexpectedly.
       The final choice was a “tough decision,” Board Chair Howard Black said this week. One of the candidates was McGrath, who “did a fantastic job in the interim,” Black said. “Both of them could have been exceptional CEO's. But Pat just has a varied work history that really lent itself in a positive way to Silver Key's needs.”
       Ellis' background includes her continuing ownership of a small coffee-roasting business, along with stints in top positions with two area social-service nonprofits (TESSA, which supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in El Paso and Teller counties; and Cheyenne Village, which provides opportunities for developmentally disabled children).
       Founded by Betsey Myers Burroughs in 1971 after her mother died in a nursing home, Silver Key provides a variety of services to age 60 and over, with the goal of helping them continue living at home.
       Most recently, Ellis had worked with a start-up insurance call center, but its owners “had financial issues” and abandoned the effort, she said.
       As for her roasting business, Purple Mountain Coffee, which she's owned for 12 years, her daughter primarily runs it now, Ellis said.
       This has left her in a position to be “pretty particular,” as she put it, in choosing her next endeavor. But when Silver Key issued its request for applications, Ellis decided the time was right to apply herself toward helping seniors. “As the population grows, there's a huge growth curve coming,” she said. “The 45-64 age group is now 25 percent of the population. That's pretty huge. We're living longer, and we're going to see a greater and greater need for the core services Silver Key offers.”
       Ellis doesn't see her commitment as a short-time thing. “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” she said.

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