Shop-talk is bound to come up in the McCracken household at the New Jersey shore. Longtime, long-term care experts Lisa and Jim owe their relationship to the senior living industry, after all.
Lisa McCracken is the new head of research and analytics for the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care and most recently served as director of senior living research and development for the investment bank Ziegler. She first met her future husband at a LeadingAge conference in New Orleans. She and Jim, a former long-term care ombudsman for the state of New Jersey, and president and CEO of Leading– Age New Jersey & Delaware since 2018, eventually married on the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Travel has been a passion for the pair, who count Costa Rica among their favorites.
“I think it causes you to be more curious, more open and understanding of different people, and just generally more aware of the world of possibilities out there,” said Lisa McCracken, who also instilled a love of travel in her son, Brady.
She grew up in the small river-adjacent town of Wrightsville, PA, where her parents still live. With one older brother and one younger, McCracken was often pulled into pickup games of baseball or football.
While studying clinical psychology, she envisioned her career trajectory involving a “Dr.” in front of her name, and standing at the front of a lecture hall, educating and informing,
“I actually feel like I’m doing that now,” she said of the insights she’s offering the senior living sector.
LeadingAge CEO Katie Smith Sloan said she and her organization are among those benefiting from McCracken’s expertise.
“Lisa has deep knowledge, high energy and tremendous warmth. Her work with Ziegler on behalf of the nonprofit sector has been outstanding,” Sloan said.
Former Ziegler colleague Kat Dymond, vice president and marketing events manager, calls McCracken’s work “transformational” in generating actionable insights from data, including the annual LZ 200 list that provides critical benchmarks on growth market trends in the senior living and care sector.
McCracken’s introduction to the senior living and housing industry came while she was a therapist for a mental health services provider in Pennsylvania. When she was looking for a career change, Holleran, a research firm that studies senior living resident engagement and satisfaction, came calling.
“My eyes opened up to this whole world,” McCracken said.
Her role as a research analyst has taken her to countless senior living communities across the country to meet with leadership teams. She embraced the frequent-flyer lifestyle. The travel was vital to McCracken’s sense-making and for providing an on-the-ground view that offers insight numbers alone might not.
“I’ve slept in many a retirement community, in the guest room, and you learn a lot that way,” she explained.
Her happy place, though, is anywhere and anytime that she, Jim and Brady — now a senior at High Point University in North Carolina — are together. “I savor those moments.”
1996 Earns BA in psychology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
1998 Earns MA in clinical psychology from West Chester University; Works as a therapist for Community Services Group
2000 Joins Holleran as research analyst, eventually
moving up to company president
2010 Starts 8-year term as board member for CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health
2013 Joins Ziegler, a specialty investment bank, where she rises to senior vice president and
director of senior living research and development
October 2023 Joins NIC as head of research and analytics