Trump Administration Announces ACL Appointments

The President recently announced several high-level political appointments to positions at the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL), including nominating Lance Robertson, longtime member of the Aging Network, as Assistant Secretary on Aging and ACL Administrator.

Mr. Robertson has served as Oklahoma's Director of Aging Services for the past decade, overseeing a range of programs that included the Older Americans Act and a large 1915c Medicaid Waiver. He was an administrator at Oklahoma State University for twelve years, where he co-founded the Gerontology Institute and directed a regional professional association, PartnerShips for Aging. He is a past president of the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) and has served on numerous boards and commissions. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army. Mr. Robertson has a B.S. from Oklahoma State University and Masters in Public Administration with Honors from the University of Central Oklahoma.

The Assistant Secretary on Aging nomination requires Senate confirmation, so it may be weeks or months before Lance will assume his position at ACL.

Several other ACL additions were announced this week as well and are effective immediately. Mary Paspalas Lazare was appointed by the President to serve as Principal Deputy Administrator of ACL and Juanita Balenger will serve as an Advisor to the ACL Administrator.

Ms. Lazare hails from St. Louis, Missouri, where she has most recently served as Vice President for Home and Community-Based Services for Lutheran Senior Services (which is a contracted provider of the local Area Agency on Aging). With master's degrees in both management and gerontology and an extensive career in long-term care and community health operations, Ms. Lazare has hands-on program-level knowledge, strategic planning and organizational development expertise. She has led organizations in delivering quality services and advocating for the people they serve while adhering to sound stewardship principles.

Ms. Balenger's career includes a variety of positions in government, non-profit organizations and the legal community. As director of Virginia's TRIAD program, she worked with local law enforcement and statewide TRIAD chapters to help older adults learn to protect themselves from abuse, including identity theft and financial exploitation. Since January, Ms. Balenger has been part of the HHS team providing policy guidance to ACL.

n4a CEO Sandy Markwood welcomed the new leaders to Washington, DC with the following statement:

“We're so pleased that the critical work of the Administration for Community Living will continue to serve the nation's older adults and caregivers with new leaders of the Trump Administration. We've worked closely with Lance Robertson over the years in his role as the State Unit Director in Oklahoma and during his tenure as NASUAD's president. Lance brings years of real-world experience in the Aging Network to this important federal leadership position.

We also welcome Mary Lazare to her new position. We believe Ms. Lazare's community-level work will also benefit the Administration and we look forward to working with her as we continue to enhance the Aging Network's services to older adults at the local level and find new ways to gain federal support for these cost-effective aging programs moving forward.

Given the urgent problem of elder abuse across our nation, we believe that ACL's efforts to provide federal leadership to address the scourge of elder abuse will be strengthened by Ms. Balenger's expertise and welcome her to her new position as well.

We look forward to working closely with each of these new federal leaders to help support older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers.”



USAging Fact: Learn about your peers’ work—and how it can fit into your agency’s goals! The AIA Awards recognizes successful and innovative programs that USAging members have developed to serve older adults. Get inspiration from our 2023 winners!