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AgingNext welcomes new CEO Abigail Pascua

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

After 16 years as chief executive officer of AgingNext, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping seniors age at home, Floy Biggs has announced that she will be departing for greener pastures.

But it’s not as though she’s leaving the organization in disarray; after a monthslong application and interview process, her heir was appointed earlier this month: of 22-year AgingNext employee, Abigail Pascua.

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On Monday, the COURIER sat down with Pascua —whom all, except her parents, refer to as Abby — and she opened up about herself, how she found herself at AgingNext, and what she hopes to accomplish in her new capacity.

Before immigrating from the Philippines, Pascua graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1997. While her mind was set on utilizing her degree and getting a job in tech, her heart was elsewhere, helping seniors.

“Somehow, my passion to serve people, especially older adults, has always been a calling, always been a purpose for me,” she said. “Maybe because I grew up with them.

“I grew up with a lot of older adults. My parents were a lot older when they had me and then I lived with my two aunts who were at the time over 60 years old,” she said. “It really was growing up just listening to their stories, I always have that passion and heart to listen to their stories.”

She remembers at a young age, rather than playing outside with her cousins, “I would just rather sit down with the oldies and listen to when they talk about the past … It feels like it’s so nice to relive.”

In April 1998, Pascua immigrated to Ontario, California.

After a year of job hunting, Pascua believed she found her calling in La Verne. Able to blend her passion for helping seniors and her knowledge of computers, Pascua began working as a reservation agent for Get About Transportation, a senior transportation service offered by the Pomona Valley Transportation Authority.

But about 10 months into the gig, Pascua’s supervisor asked her if she wanted to apply as an administrative assistant for Claremont’s Community Senior Services, which was rebranded as AgingNext in October of 2019.

Her response was “Sure, why not.” “I applied, I interviewed and the next thing I know I’m walking into this office, not here but in La Verne,” she said. “And I have no idea who Community Senior Services is. I thought I was going to be replacing the admin assistant at Get About Transportation … at that time.”

But it was nothing like that; Pascua would be leaving her post at Get About and instead transferred to Community Senior Services, which had a partnership with Get About Transportation.

“Then I found out like ‘Oh yes, I’m working now for Community Senior Services,” she remembered. However, that one oversight was the beginning of her decades long career.

“I began as an admin assistant 22 years ago and from there worked my way up,” she said. “Every day, doing [the work], answering the phones, giving information, helping these older adults and their families becomes kind of like, ‘I like what I’m doing.’ And it’s gratifying for me.”

Pascua has been with AgingNext through both the highs and lows of the last two decades. She’s witnessed Community Senior Services morph into AgingNext, but has seen both nonprofits undergo numerous funding cuts, which also prompted some creative fundraising responses.

In 2016, Pascua was promoted to AgingNext’s office manager adding to her array of titles over the years. Before assuming her new role, Pascua previously served as director of operations for its transportation program, Ride and Go.

When Biggs announced her departure, Pascua was the vice president of AgingNext.

Knowing that the president/CEO position was not going to be given to her, Pascua applied like many other applicants. When news broke that she would be the third CEO of the nonprofit, Pascua said. “It was really exciting,” and noted that being with AgingNext for 22 years shouldn’t make her transition to CEO awkward.

“Instead of thinking ‘Oh I’m scared, I don’t know anything.’ I am more of … excited because what can we do next,” she said. “What will be the next exciting opportunity for us under my leadership?”

Although Pascua believes she has big shoes to fill, departing CEO Floy Biggs knows Pascua can fill them with ease.

“I think she has the full support of the team here so I think that that’s critical. And she has full support from the board of directors,” Biggs said. “She’s been a committed team member of AgingNext for 22 years. We’ve been in a very close partnership for the past 16 years … I think she deserved this opportunity.

Biggs knows she will bring a number of positive attributes with her to the role, and said Pascua is “very smart, very capable,” has institutional history and knowledge about AgingNext, and is “friendly, easy to get along with, and has great partnerships in the community.”

Biggs, trading the sunny California coast for the wide acres of Texas fairly soon, offered Pascua some parting words.

“Carry on with the mission,” Biggs said. “What we do here to help seniors age at home, that’s so critical … She will be very successful and the organization will continue on for another 100 years.”

Pascua hopes to do just that. While she wants to address a few items, her and the staff’s immediate attention is on the nonprofit’s strategic plan.

“We have to carry that on. We’re going to be in our second year of that strategic plan and there’s a lot of exciting projects coming our way,” Pascua said. “That’s a great template for me to see where can we improve our programs and services.

“And the next thing is the expansion of our memory care center,” she added, which the board hopes to include in the plan.

However, Pascua’s first order of business as CEO is getting to know her colleagues more personally so she can find a style of leadership that benefits all going forward.

Pascua effectively becomes AgingNext’s third CEO on Saturday, May 28, and shared that while she’s more excited than nervous about the new title, she’s just eager to get to work.

Pascua can still be reached at abby@agingnext.org. For more information about the nonprofit, visit https://agingnext.org.

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