Staff & Contact Us


Lisa Newcomb, Executive Director

Lisa Newcomb joined ESAAL in 1986 as the Association’s director of member services, growing the size of the Association by enhancing membership value through personalized customer service and the development of high quality and cost saving member programs. Lisa has been the Empire State Association’s Executive Director since 1998. In that capacity, she represents the Association and its members by serving as an appointee on the Adult Care Facility/Assisted Living Residence Task Force created as part of the 2004 Assisted Living Reform Act. She also participates in numerous other Department of Health workgroups and committees designed to address assisted living and home care topics.

For industry guidance and regulatory questions and for all press related questions

Contact Lisa

Karen Thornton, Director of Member Services

In December 2016, ESAAL welcomed Karen Thornton as Director of Member Services. Karen is responsible for assisting members with day-to-day Adult Care Facility and Assisted Living operational questions as well as navigating the Health Commerce System. In addition, she will coordinate the NYS Department of Health – ESAAL Emergency Preparedness grant initiatives. Karen has extensive experience in not-for-profit association management in the aging services sector as well as many years in fundraising and development for not-for-profits. 

For regulatory assistance, membership issues and inquiries, website information, emergency preparedness or HCS assistance

Contact Karen

 Cara Groff, CMP, Event Coordinator

Cara joined the ESAAL staff in February 2017 as the Event Coordinator and is responsible for organizing the annual conference, including sponsorships & exhibitors, as well as other meetings & conferences.  Cara brings many years of meeting and conference planning experience from the hotel industry.  She comes to ESAAL most recently as the Director of Sales at the Park Manor Hotel in Clifton Park, NY where she was responsible for all aspects of booking and coordinating group events.  Previous to Park Manor, Cara was the Event Coordinator/Conference Services Manager at the Courtyard by Marriott & Excelsior Springs in Saratoga Springs, NY for twelve years.  In 2018, she earned the CMP credential.  The Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) is recognized globally as the badge of excellence in the meeting, convention, exhibition, and event industry. The qualifications for certification are based on professional experience, education, and a rigorous exam.

For information about educational events, CEUs, conference or seminar registrations, regional meetings, Board meetings

 Contact Cara

 Jim Kane, Finance Coordinator

Jim joined ESAAL in 2018 and is a former owner/operator of Adirondack Manor, comprised of six residences in upstate NY. Jim has 34 years as an operator in assisted living, an accounting background and is a former board president & treasurer of the ESAAL Board of Directors.

For all billing questions and membership dues

Contact Jim

Chris Vitale, Legislative Coordinator

Chris has been a member of ESAAL since 1998 while also being an owner/operator of several family owned ALR/ALPs in the Finger Lakes region.  Chris has been a long time ESAAL board member and served as Treasurer since 2017.  Chris literally grew up in the industry and will take his passion for our issues to represent ESAALs agenda to the Legislative body of NYS.  He looks forward to serving ESAAL members and intends to effect positive change for the entire industry.

Contact Chris for ESAAL's legislative priorities and advocacy issues 

Contact Chris


Contact Us

              Empire State Association of Assisted Living
              646 Plank Road, Suite 203
              Clifton Park, New York 12065
              518-371-2573 (phone) 

              Lisa Newcomb, Executive Director ext. 203

              [email protected]

              Karen Thornton, Director of Member Services ext.202

              [email protected]

              Cara Groff, CMP, Event Coordinator ext. 201

              [email protected]

              Jim Kane, Finance Coordinator ext. 206

              [email protected]

              Chris Vitale, Legislative Coordinator

              [email protected]