By Ann Peterson
CEO Tim O’Keefe announced to the GRF Board and staff on Monday that he will be retiring on Nov. 15.
O’Keefe has served as CEO of the Golden Rain Foundation since November 2015, including the past 2½ years during the COVID-19 pandemic. His contract was not set to expire until June 30, 2024.
“It’s been a great job, and I’ve loved working here,” O’Keefe said. “It’s just time to retire and bring new energy and ideas here to Rossmoor.”
During his tenure, O’Keefe has seen the construction of the new Fitness Center, completion of the first phase of the solar farm and $65 million in savings with the Comcast deal. He also helped Rossmoor weather the pandemic with less than a handful of deaths in the community, while also helping to avoid laying off employees at a time when millions lost their jobs at the outset of the pandemic.
GRF President Dwight Walker said he has established a Search Task Force that will serve as a steering committee for the nationwide search for O’Keefe’s replacement. The task force will consist of Mutual Operations Director Paul Donner, Senior Human Resources Manager Eric Wong, Walker, GRF Vice President Leanne Hamaji and past GRF President Bob Kelso. The task force will make recommendations to the Board.
“We are thankful to Tim for the last seven years that he has devoted to Rossmoor,” Walker said. “But we understand that all good things must come to an end. There is never a good time to end a good relationship, but Tim has given us his all and we wish him all the best in his pending retirement.”
The task force will review potential executive recruiters and make a recommendation to the Board. The task force will screen potential candidates, who will be interviewed by the Board and senior managers, Walker said.
“All of these things are on a tight timetable, with a goal of having a new CEO in-house by Nov. 1 to interface with Tim for two weeks,” Walker added.
O’Keefe said several factors led to his decision to retire now, especially the challenges presented by COVID. O’Keefe noted that he was “the lightning rod for criticism” for being too restrictive in shutting down Rossmoor before the rest of the state in March 2020 and then not restrictive enough when facilities reopened.
The omicron variant and another temporary closure in early 2022 added to the strain. So, too, did the turnover with key staff positions.
“I’m a cancer survivor from 31 years ago, and I’ve worked really hard at keeping myself healthy,” O’Keefe said. “The toll of the pandemic, I can tell it’s affecting my health mentally and physically.”
O’Keefe said he had planned to retire next year, but that lined up too closely with Donner’s planned retirement in summer 2023. He also decided now was a better time because of a strong senior management team and the “quality of the Board members. They are all great leaders, and Dwight is the right leader to guide everyone through this.”
He also wants to spend time with his wife, children and their new spouses.
“Everything factored into the decision,” O’Keefe said. “Most of all, we’re in a good place, so the timing seemed right and I’m focused on helping to ensure a smooth transition.”