Time to Dream Bigger: Lisa Baron

  • Season 4, Episode 1
  • August 8, 2023
  • 31-minute listen

Time to Dream Bigger: Lisa Baron

You could incrementally grow using the strategies you’re suggesting. Or another option is you could actually change the world.

The Big Idea

How do business leaders challenge themselves to dream bigger? How do you know whether you’re really dreaming big enough? And is there a danger in allowing your reach to exceed your grasp?

Episode Description

At the start of the day, Lisa Baron and her board of trustees gathered for the fifth strategic planning cycle in the 20-year history of Memory Care Home Solutions, the nonprofit Baron founded to serve families with Alzheimer’s patients. How would they expand? How would they diversify their revenue sources? How would they create sustainable long-term earnings?

But after dinner, at the end of the day, the planning facilitator put a question to Baron and her board, a question she wasn’t expecting at all. “You can grow incrementally,” the facilitator said, “or you can change the world. What do you want to do?”

The question sent a bolt of lightning through Baron and her board. It changed the focus of their strategic planning entirely. The game was no longer just about contract reimbursements, revenue streams and federal grants. It wasn’t only about seeking inclusion in employer assistance programs or third-party healthcare contracts.

It was about advocacy for families. It was about forming coalitions to influence policy around memory care issues. “It was huge,” Baron said. “It opened us up to the power of more people helping us achieve more than we could by ourselves.”

Within weeks, work had begun to expand the agency’s vision into the advocacy space, using the experience of hospice workers—who moved the palliative care practice from the fringes of healthcare into the mainstream—as an example.

What steps in its history brought Baron and Memory Care Home Solutions to this moment? How are they building the groundwork to “change the world”? And what can business leaders learn from Baron’s experience?

Update Since This Episode

Lisa Baron announced her retirement from MCHS in December 2022 and officially stepped down May 31, 2023. According to Jill Cigliana, the organization’s new executive director, “Lisa continues to inspire and guide MCHS in her new role as founder and director emeritus. She remains involved in advocacy and policy work on behalf of people living with dementia and family care partners.”

Since the approval of the fifth strategic plan, Cigliana said the organization has focused on building out its dementia navigation service line based on the Care Ecosystem model of care developed at the University of California-San Francisco. “This work connects us with a national team of researchers and collaborators to advance best practices in dementia care and is aligned with our strategic goals. Additionally, we have been meeting with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to inform a payment model for dementia care services.”

On July 31, MCHS was invited to Washington, DC, to attend the advisory council meeting of the National Alzheimer's Project Act. At that meeting, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a test program to roll out a dementia care model which will be covered through Medicare benefits. “This means that for the first time in this country, there will be a covered benefit for Medicare beneficiaries who are living with dementia, including education, training and paid respite for their family caregivers. MCHS will continue to be involved in the testing for this model of care.”

Said Lisa Baron, “It's thrilling that we are being included in the national conversation. This is exactly what we were aiming for.”

Related Links


This podcast is a production of Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School. Contributors include:

  • Katie Wools, Cathy Myrick, Judy Milanovits and Lesley Liesman, creative assistance
  • Jill Young Miller, fact checking and creative assistance
  • Hayden Molinarolo, original music and sound design
  • Mike Martin Media, editing
  • Sophia Passantino, social media
  • Lexie O'Brien and Erik Buschardt, website support
  • Paula Crews, creative vision and strategic support

Special thanks to Ray Irving and his team at WashU Olin’s Center for Digital Education, including our audio engineer, Austin Alred.

Additional information

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Kurt Greenbaum, Communications Director

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St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

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