Kathy Floyd grew up in rural North Carolina, surrounded by grandparents, aunts and uncles. She cultivated an appreciation for the elderly population at a young age. So when an opportunity arose to transition out of an investment firm and into a nonprofit that benefited seniors, she jumped at the chance to engage in work aligned with her values. For the past five years, she has served as executive director of the Georgia Council on Aging (GCOA). The MBA in finance she earned from Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business in 1986 has been an asset throughout her entire career.
“The MBA program helped me develop what I call number literacy,” Floyd says. “One of the things I do is advocate for state funding. Being able to look at trends in budgeting and analyze data benefits me when I talk to legislators.”
In 2016, Floyd played a significant role in pioneering the state’s Nursing Home Transitions program, which moves nursing home residents back into their homes or communities. Since its inception, the initiative has aided approximately 180 Georgians each year. Often, relatively simple barriers prevent people from relocating to a more comfortable setting: funding for one month’s rent, retrofitting a home or even building a wheelchair ramp. The program covers those costs.
Last year, Floyd contributed to the establishment of SB 406, a state law that targets elder abuse. As part of the regulation, caregivers in locations including nursing homes, private abodes and adult daycare centers must pass extensive FBI background and fingerprint checks.
“In the past, people who abused seniors weren’t arrested or sentenced to jail,” Floyd says. “To make an impact and get a law like that introduced is extremely satisfying.”
Before her stint at GCOA, Floyd served as advocacy director for AARP. While there, she had a hand in criminalizing payday loans. Older demographics often fall victim to this type of predatory lending.
Considering Floyd’s track record of championing causes on behalf of the elderly, it is no surprise the Secretary of State honored her with its Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award in January. And Floyd’s tireless efforts continue. In February, GCOA sponsored Senior Week at the Capitol, where 600 seniors gathered to discuss pressing issues with their legislators. One year, so many people showed up that attendance got capped at 600.
“I got into this field to make a difference,” Floyd says. “Seeing all the seniors who get involved feels great.”