Hospice exec: ‘The acts of love and caring we see daily is rejuvenating’


Karen Rubel

Karen Rubel, who has worked for Nathan Adelson Hospice for over 12 years in roles such as chief operating officer and vice president of development, was tapped to succeed Carole Fisher as president and CEO of the nonprofit organization, which has served more than 70,000 people in its nearly 40 years in Southern Nevada.

What do you hope to bring to the patients and families of Nathan Adelson Hospice?

I’d have to say peace of mind. It can be overwhelming for most people to experience the illness of a loved one. As a society, we don’t pay as much attention to the end of life as we should. We don’t plan and we avoid thinking about it — until it’s often too late. Our team is able to help guide patients and families through the process. We strive to provide comfort and dignity for patients. That is priority No. 1 for us as a team and as an organization. Once a family member experiences hospice care, they often become incredible advocates for it. We have volunteers here who have worked with us for decades, since they believe so strongly in what we do.

What is your vision for the future of Nathan Adelson Hospice?

My priority is to continue the incredible legacy that has been established here over the past 40 years. It’s a privilege for me to be part of this organization and to now lead it. I know I have big shoes to fill. Under the guidance of our board of trustees, we have accomplished so much. From the beginning, Nathan Adelson Hospice was innovative. The Swenson inpatient unit was the second of its kind in the country. Every leader since then has made their mark, and we have truly grown up with the community. I want to find innovative ways to provide care for those who need us and strengthen the partnerships we have with other nonprofit organizations, health care providers and insurers. Health care is always changing and evolving, and I want us to keep evolving as well.

How do you decompress after a long week?

There’s a myth that it must be depressing to work in hospice care. On the contrary, the acts of love and caring we see daily is rejuvenating. Outside of work, I love to be outside, and spending time laughing with friends always reboots me. I love to travel, and if that involves getting to the beach, so much the better.

If you could change one thing about Southern Nevada, what would it be?

I would like to see an emphasis on collaboration. We don’t lack for outside-the-box thinkers in our community. Connecting people and ideas would be beneficial.

What is your management style?

I think the role of a good leader is to connect people to a common purpose. Having the right people in the right roles is key to an organizations success. I think mistakes provide great learning. Giving people the tools they need to do their jobs well is important for success.

Where’s your favorite place to explore in Las Vegas?

I really like to visit new restaurants. There are so many great choices in the valley, it’s hard to pick one. My current favorites are Panevino and Vintner Grill. I love to see new shows as well. One of the terrific things about Las Vegas is there’s no shortage of shows and concerts.

What is your dream job outside of your current field?

Teaching. I was a teacher very early in my career and someday I’d like to do that again.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

Ireland. I have traveled there frequently and love the people, and the country is breathtaking. I have two favorite cities — Dublin and Killarney. I’m not sure I could choose which one to live in.

Whom do you admire?

My mentor and friend Carole Fisher is a woman I greatly admire. She hired me and her guidance allowed me to grow into the leaders I am today. She is smart, compassionate and has great business instincts. She has taught me so much.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Lack of follow-through. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.

What is something that people might not know about you?

I am a huge Golden Knights fan. I try to get to every game I can and I love how the entire city has come together to support our first major pro sports team.

What advice would you offer your younger self?

Don’t place so much emphasis on trying to please everyone.