Evan Rossi, the Director of Residence Experience at Inspīr Carnegie Hill, is a whirlwind of creative energy - it's not easy to pin him down for an interview. But when we finally did, it was worth it as we listened to his enthusiasm and excitement for the experiences he creates for our residents.
Tell us about your background and what led you to this position at Inspīr Carnegie Hill?
I grew up in Sugar Land, Texas and moved to New York City after receiving my undergraduate degree in Theater Management. My interest in the theater led me to various opportunities in the industry and I was working in the box office on Broadway until the pandemic shut things down. I returned home to Texas temporarily and that is when I developed an interest in the senior living industry. My dad is a general manager at a senior living community in Houston. He would come home and discuss all the stress and challenges he was facing in running his community and keeping his residents safe. I was intrigued by how the industry had to adapt at such a quick pace.
Not long after the pandemic began, I enrolled in the Master of Management in Hospitality program from The Hotel School at Cornell University and because of my new-found interest, I chose to focus on the senior living industry. After my first year of studies I interned during the summer of 2021 at Inspīr Carnegie Hill and loved it! Upon graduation, I returned as the Associate Director of Resident Experience and transitioned to my current role just under a year ago. Working in this incredible community has inspired me and I am now earning a Master of Science in Gerontology from the University of Southern California and will graduate in December.
What is your approach to programming/experiences – what are you looking to achieve for the residents?
My approach to programming at Inspīr is to resist the usual. I continuously diversify our offerings to ensure new ideas and conversations are being created and explored by our residents. Our residents are savvy, informed, and have a thirst for learning. My goal is to fulfill that for them in everything I bring to the residence. Being based in New York City gives us the privilege to find synergies with numerous individuals and companies who are excited to bring their talent and expertise to a senior living space.
You have introduced many new experiences for residents since you joined the Inspīr team. Can you tell us more about them and how residents have responded to them?
There are three programs that I am especially proud of: our Broadway, Political, and Author Series. All three have evolved tremendously over the course of the last year, most notably our ability to attract a distinguished and acclaimed programming roster of talent. As part of our Broadway Series, we recently hosted four-time Tony Award-winning Broadway producer - Jeffery Seller.
Jeffrey is one of the most prolific producers of the modern era best known for producing Hamilton (2015), In the Heights (2008), Avenue Q (2003), and RENT (1996). Jeffrey delighted residents and staff with his intimate look at what it was like pioneering, casting, and producing these iconic shows.
For our Author Series, we hosted author Ashton Applewhite who had recently been recognized by the United Nations for its Healthy Ageing 50 initiative. The UN initiative aims to celebrate leaders who are working to transform the world - making it an easier place to grow old. Ashton is the author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism and a leading spokesperson for the movement of ageism awareness and dismantling.
I am most proud of how these series capture the attention of our residents, their children and grandchildren. Inspīr residents are constantly submitting RSVP’s from their grandkids who want to attend an upcoming program just as much as their grandparent. Our universal approach to unique programming has been our recipe to success and my team and I are always brainstorming for the next big hit.
The “On the Town” experiences have also seen great success – can you tell us what it means for residents to be out in the city?
Our “On the Town” experiences are a collaborative process with our residents, and we strive to offer experiences that cater to the desires of as many of them as possible.
Residents at Inspīr have their finger on the pulse about what is going on in the city. Residents give me brochures about new museum exhibits, Broadway shows, and even new restaurants they want to dine at. We have taken residents all over the city and the outer boroughs with visits to International Center of Photography (ICP) , the Dior exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, the Edge NYC in Hudson Yards, Kandinsky at the Guggenheim, and behind the scenes tours at the Apollo Theater, and many more.
A memory that my residents still mention was our visit to Edge NYC in Hudson Yards. Even though most of our residents are New Yorker's there are still opportunities to expose them to different experiences outside of Inspīr. One of our residents, Barbara, told me, “The Edge was thrilling and mortifying! Whoever would have thought of building that?! But it was wicked fun. Evan, you are always encouraging us to get out of our comfort zone, and that excursion was magnificent. A true bonding moment as well with all the residents as we walked over the glass floor together!”
I want to create experiences that move them – it is good to see I am achieving that. This year, I plan to build on the previous successes and continue to offer unique and universal experiences that add vibrancy and excitement to the lives of our residents.