Harold C. Keller Public Service Leadership Award: 2010
The Honorable Mark Parkinson is the president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), which represents more than 11,000 for- and not-for-profit nursing homes, assisted living residences, and facilities for the care of people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities. Before leading AHCA/NCAL, the native Kansan was a successful businessman, state legislator, and most recently served as the 45th Governor of the State of Kansas.
A summa cum laude graduate of Wichita State University, Parkinson finished first in his class from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1984 before forming his own private practice law firm in 1986. In 1990, Parkinson was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives; two years later he was elected to the Kansas Senate. While serving in the state legislature, Parkinson earned a reputation for bridging party lines.
In 1996, Parkinson focused on a new passion—helping to enhance seniors’ quality of life by providing first-class elder care facilities. An owner and operator for more than 15 years, Parkinson helped to develop ten facilities in Kansas and Missouri. His experience as founder, developer, and CEO of facilities offering skilled nursing care, assisted living, and dementia-related care has given Parkinson a perspective that spans the continuum of care. His vision also helped to earn national recognition for the design of one of his assisted living facilities, and the title of “Outstanding Business in Northeast Johnson County” for his company.
Next, the successful businessman and former state legislator returned to the state capital, joining The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius as her Lieutenant Governor in 2006. Three years later, Parkinson was sworn in as Governor of Kansas when Sebelius was selected to serve as U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services.
Under his leadership, Kansas developed a comprehensive energy policy and a ten-year transportation plan for maintaining the state’s infrastructure. Citing his bipartisan support and ability to move the state forward even in challenging economic times, the Topeka Capital Journal named Parkinson “Kansan of the Year” in 2009.
Married for more than 27 years, Mark and Stacy Parkinson are the parents of three children – Alex, Sam and Kit – and active in community and charitable organizations.
From his hands-on work at the facility level to his experience in the State Legislature, the former Governor of Kansas is uniquely qualified to take on the challenges of addressing myriad health policy issues while guiding the nation’s largest association of long term and post-acute health care providers toward the future.