By Fletcher Word
The Truth Editor
When Justin Moor was 24 years old, he had an opportunity to have a job interview with Billie Johnson, CEO of the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio.
She asked him, as he now recalls, “how long will you be staying with us?”
He replied, “as long as you will have me.”
Twenty years later, Billie Johnson, who started at the agency 50 years ago when there were four employees, is now retired. She stepped down in mid-2023. Justin Moor is still with the Area Office and, last Thursday, he was announced as the new CEO of the agency that has grown over the years, under Johnson’s stewardship, to include a staff of 184, with 190 provider organizations, 300 volunteers, while helping 40,000 seniors with a yearly budget of over $33 million.
Working with senior citizens, Moor noted, is something he had been inspired to do by his great grandfather who was such an integral part of his life as a child.
“The work we do in helping people live long and independent lives, I’ve been preparing for this work for decades,” he said. “[Billie Johnson] invested in me and mentored me the last 20 years. In many ways I’m grateful she made her desire known in passing the baton over to me.”
Moor, a native of northwest Ohio, joined AOoA as an associate planner and over the next two decades was promoted on numerous occasions, eventually becoming vice president of Planning and Program Development. In recent years, as vice president, Moor has worked in partnership with other organizations to secure $15 million in grant funding for the building of affordable housing opportunity for 120 older area citizens, has led partnerships with Toledo Public Schools and has been an advocate at the Ohio statehouse on a number of issues related to older adults.
Moor earned an undergraduate degree in rhetoric and communications from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Cleveland State University.
During last week’s news conference announcing his new position, Moor said that over the next year, the AOoA “will focus on four areas in elevating our community.”
The agency, he continued, will concentrate on its outreach efforts, increasing and improving housing opportunities, closing the longevity gap that exists in the community and maintaining funding – particularly by campaigning for the Lucas County Senior Services renewal levy that will be on the ballot in 2024.
Moor was clearly Johnson’s favorite to succeed her in leading the agency upon her retirement, a sentiment she made known to the board, said board member Anita Madison.
“We knew he was her choice,” said Madison. Nevertheless, the board still felt they were obligated to conduct a nationwide search, “to do our due diligence,” added Madison. That search was conducted over the course of the second half 2023 as Moor assumed the duties of interim CEO and, once completed, the choice for the board was clear. Moor was the board’s unanimous choice, said Board President Bill Harris.
“We the Board of Directors and staff the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio are excited and overjoyed about the selection of Justin Moor to lead us in our quest to serve the needs of senior citizens during such a critical time as this,” said Harris in a statement released last Thursday. “More than 10-thousand people turn age 65 every day in this country, and that number will nearly double by the year 2050 to become 23 percent of the U.S. population, according to AARP International! As this agency faces the challenges ahead in our 10-county service area, I predict there are three things that will drive Mr. Moor’s success: his passion for the age 60+ generation, coupled with his firm, but sensitive leadership style over his staff and his love and compassion for his community.”
Moor expressed his appreciation for his predecessor’s unwavering support and tutelage over the years and her decision to have him succeed her.
“She did not ask me to fill her shoes, she asked me to stand on her shoulders and take this agency to new heights,” he said.