Alumna Spotlight: Alyssa Elting McGuire (PACE), trainer, consultant and advocate

By Sherron Lumley

College of Education alumna Alyssa Elting McGuire, is the founder and co-owner of Oregon Care Home Consulting & Training. She is also the board vice president of Making Oregon Vital for Elders (MOVE), an advocacy organization that promotes person-centered care in long-term care communities.

Her company received the 2020 Spark Award for Oregon from the Better Business Bureau and was a finalist for the BBB’s Torch Award for ethics in 2019 just one year after she founded her business in 2018.

Alumna Alyssa Elting McGuire, founder, Oregon Care Home Consulting & Training

Helping women and minority-owned businesses succeed

“The majority of care home businesses in Oregon are women and minority-owned,” she says. As a consultant and training director she helps provide wraparound support services and state-required training to current and future adult care home providers to help them be successful. She is a state-certified instructor of Ensuring Quality Care (EQC), and also co-developed the required Pre-Service Dementia Training for providers. Both courses were fully online in 2019, pre-Covid, which proved to be a very important decision during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I really wanted to develop training so that people would succeed. The PACE program was a pivotal decision for me,” says McGuire. She pursued the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership with a specialization in Training and Development at the College of Education to learn practical and theoretical evidence-informed approaches to motivating adult learners. 

Delving into adult learning theory, having the encouragement of professors, and being a part of the PACE community helped her to keep going through the program although it was difficult to be working full time with a family. “I had a very supportive spouse,” she says. “I just had to make time for it and be passionate about it. It’s definitely not easy. It’s a lot to do.”

The Ah-hah moment

“Developing Training Materials was a course I took early on in the program. It was so eye-opening. The intentionality of developing training, visuals, and the theoretical process that leads to positive learning outcomes helps people retain the information and apply it outside of the class. It’s very intentional to create a process that meets the needs of adult learners.” 

McGuire’s journey to the College of Education came mid-career after 12 years of working for the State of Oregon, and for eight of those years she worked with adult foster care homes as both an elder abuse investigator and as a lead adult foster home licensor for Aging & People with Disabilities (APD). 

Prior to returning to PSU, where she had earlier earned her undergrad degree in Psychology, she attended the University of Nebraska, receiving a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) in 2008. Her career goal at that time was to work in nonprofits and government.

Returning to college mid-career

“When I found the PACE program in 2015, I was in my late-30s with a family and working full time. I found the real time feedback from my instructors very valuable. I loved the campus and it was such an amazing experience. I left working for the state in 2017 and began at the Alzheimer’s Association. I had this idea of creating my own business. It took me two years of thoughtful consideration and planning.”

“The PACE program was a pivotal decision for me. It led me to where I am now.  I’m my own boss, and making change! It was such a vital decision.”

~ ALYSSA ELTING MCGUIRE, FOUNDER, OREGON CARE HOME CONSULTING

Her advice to others considering a master’s degree from PSU’s College of Education: “Having a plan is really important and understanding your why. You love to learn. You will probably make money, but that is not the reason why. It’s a huge commitment. It’s for the passion of teaching others. Self-reflection is important. Ask yourself, ‘Why am I taking this step?’ With the PACE program, if I had to do it all over again, I would.”

She plans to continue to grow the business and expand services and training in the adult foster care realm and continue to work on systemic change.

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