July 1, 2024

Contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA
619-997-2495 or gfalkenthal@gmail.com

Serving Seniors Leadership Transition Supports Continued Success

Board President Mary Gendron announced that President and CEO Paul Downey will be retiring next year, completing 30 years of dedicated leadership of Serving Seniors on May 8, 2025. Downey informed the board of his decision to retire on his 30-year anniversary milestone, which was unanimously accepted.

After conducting its due diligence and earning the enthusiastic and unanimous support of the board of directors, Chief Operating Officer Melinda Forstey will assume the President and CEO role. Downey recommended and fully supports our succession plan. She will assume the title President and CEO Designate.

“Over the coming months, we expect a fully seamless transition as Paul passes the torch to Melinda,” said Gendron. “Through their efforts and backed by our board, the talented staff, and the dedicated volunteers, we are committed to continue the vital advocacy work on behalf of the San Diego region’s older adults experiencing and at risk of homelessness.”

“Melinda has been an integral part of Serving Seniors’ success,” said Downey. “As the need for our services and our advocacy efforts has expanded due to the growth of older adult homelessness, we have benefitted from Melinda’s problem-solving skills and determination to find solutions with the dignity of the people we serve at the center of our efforts. Serving Seniors will be in good hands for many years to come.”

“I have been afforded the extraordinary opportunity to learn from and to fully partner with Paul as we lead our team to meet every challenge presented to us,” said Forstey. “I could not be better prepared to step forward and will ensure the trust placed in me by the board of directors is validated.”

Downey’s vision and efforts on behalf of Serving Seniors have been nothing less than transformative. Since his appointment as CEO in 1995 after ten years of volunteering, Serving Seniors has grown into a nationally recognized organization changing lives and leading the efforts in San Diego County to ensure thousands of older adults are kept housed and enjoy healthy, purposeful lives regardless of income.

Under Downey’s direction and with Forstey’s leadership, Serving Seniors has become San Diego County’s largest provider of senior meals and a leader in affordable senior housing. Due to its visionary leadership and its platform as a national expert in aging issues, Serving Seniors is the gold standard others look to as a model of providing resources for thousands of individuals and families.

About Serving Seniors

Founded in 1970, Serving Seniors is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in San Diego, California, dedicated to serving low-income adults aged 60 and over. A leader in senior advocacy and programming, Serving Seniors has created an innovative model of comprehensive services including nutrition meals, housing, health and social services and lifelong learning opportunities to thousands of seniors in need. It is the largest provider of meals to seniors in the county, and one of the only organizations in the nation providing a robust range of services to vulnerable, at-risk older adults.

Serving Seniors President and CEO Paul Downey has been instrumental in the organization’s growth over the past 29 years. Since being appointed the role in 1995, Downey has guided the nonprofit’s innovative efforts to provide supportive services focused on keeping low-income seniors healthy and independent. Under Downey’s leadership, Serving Seniors has grown to provide over one million nutritious meals and coordinated services to 7,000 older adults each year. Read Serving Seniors’ groundbreaking report, Senior Homelessness: A Needs Assessment.