Clint BarneyClint Barney, an AHCA/NCAL Diversity Executive Leaders Program (DELP) scholar, champions the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Legacy House of Ogden in Utah. As the executive director, he oversees one of the 19 senior communities operated by Western States Lodging and Management across the western United States, exemplifying how DEI transcends workplace policy to become a cornerstone of innovation, talent attraction, and sustainable growth.

"My grandparents had vastly different long term care experiences, which deeply affected me,” Barney said, sharing his motivation for entering the field. “One was marked by neglect, the other by compassion. That dichotomy drove me to pursue a leadership role in long term care, to create environments where seniors are treated with the exceptional care, respect, and dignity they deserve."

His dedication to DEI led him to the AHCA/NCAL Diversity Executive Leaders Program, where standards of excellence and networking with peers reinforced his commitment. "I was magnetized to the program for its focus on diversity and inclusion, and I was fortunate to have great leaders like Chad Herrick and Tim Needles who saw my potential to make a significant contribution," he said, acknowledging the mentors who shaped his journey.

Describing a turning point, Barney illustrates the importance of inclusive leadership. "The culture at Western States Lodging welcomed me like family. An unexpected reunion during an interview process with Nate Cluff, whom I had met previously, solidified my belief in the power of inclusivity," he shares, emphasizing how a supportive culture fosters meaningful connections.

Impacting DEI Through DELP

Barney's career began with serving meals to seniors, where he encountered discrimination first-hand. "I had to navigate bias from residents uncomfortable with being served by a Black person. Instead of harboring resentment, I chose to educate and advocate for equality," he explains, reflecting on the power of transforming challenges into teaching moments.

"Participating in DELP expanded my vision for DEI in the workplace. It's crucial to speak up within your organization. Even if the answer is 'no,' starting the conversation is a step towards change," Barney advises, highlighting the need for dialogue and action.

DELP's focus on communication and team dynamics resonated with Barney. "We learned the value of each voice in the room. Bringing this approach to my team, we discuss how to support one another, clarifying differences, and standing united," he states, underscoring the strategy of empowering through open dialogue.

"To enhance DEI initiatives, an organization must remain open and teachable, advocating for change and celebrating our differences," Barney suggests, revealing how his own community has embraced diversity through education and celebration of cultural events.

"My goal is to provide more resources for inclusivity, aiming to make our company a 'best place to work' while also enhancing DEI understanding through education," Barney explains, outlining his vision for the future of DEI in leadership.

"Advocating in Washington D.C. during DELP was transformative, motivating me to consider political action to support the long term care sector," he recalls, pinpointing experiences that shaped his aspirations.

"The program allowed me to connect with individuals committed to DEI, inspiring my personal and professional journey," he acknowledges, highlighting the importance of a supportive network in fostering growth.

"I've integrated DELP lessons into our onboarding, fostering a sense of belonging from day one," he notes, giving an example of how he's applied the program's teachings to enhance workplace inclusivity.

"I plan to encourage others to join DELP, leveraging my experiences to advance DEI and leadership development both within my organization and the wider community," Barney commits, eager to extend the reach of the program's impact.

"With the sector evolving, equipping future leaders with a strong understanding of DEI has never been more vital," Barney concludes, reflecting on his role in educating and including others while advancing as a leader himself.

Barney's journey from observing the stark contrasts in his grandparents' care to overcoming prejudice exemplifies resilience and commitment to improving through education and openness. Each step of his career, guided by the wisdom of mentors and the enriching experiences along the way, has been instrumental in fostering an inclusive culture that benefits not only individuals but also the entire community of seniors and caregivers.

Barney’s narrative stands out as a beacon for aspiring leaders. His call to action, “Speak up. Celebrate diversity. Empower others,” offers a compelling roadmap for creating a more equitable and inclusive future in long term care and beyond.