New Plymouth Place CEO brings experience in health care, senior living

By Hank Beckman

Pioneer Press

DECEMBER 8, 2017, 1:28 PM

Plymouth Place Senior Living will ring in the new year with a new chief executive officer.

James (Jay) Biere, 59, takes over from the retiring Dale Lilburn, effective Jan. 1.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to lead at Plymouth Place,” he said in a telephone interview. “I was

impressed with the staff, board and leadership. My first priority will be to get to know people, build

trust and relationships.

Biere was born and raised on a livestock farm near Volo, Ill. He was educated at Catholic grade

schools and high schools, and holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance from Northern

Illinois University.

Biere has spent a significant part of his working life in health care and senior living services.

He began his career at Servicemaster Management Service, eventually rising to the office of the senior

vice president of human resources. He then served as chief operating officer of both Vibrant Living in

Downers Grove and the Des Moines, Iowa-based Lifespace Communities.

Biere’s last three and one-half years have been spent in Normal, Il., as the president and CEO of

Meadows Communities, a senior living community. In his time at Meadows, Biere oversaw several

infrastructure upgrades, including a new information technology platform.

But he claims as his most significant achievement over the span of his career are the partnerships he

developed with various colleagues and residents.

“What’s most important is the relationships you build,” he said. “You have to provide leadership and

support growth. In the end, it’s all about the ability to change the lives of people.”

Plymouth Place officials are satisfied that they were able to replace Lilburn with a person of Biere’s


“In Jay we have found the right combination of leadership and experience,” said Marv Baldwin, a

member of the search committee. “His extensive work in the senior living industry and his ability to

related with residents, staff and board will serve out community and its mission.”

Plymouth Place, a private nonprofit company affiliated with the United Church of Christ, first opened

its doors in 1944. In 2007, a modern 8-story building at 315 N. La Grange Road, La Grange Park,

replaced the original structure, where the facility’s parking lot is now.

The facility provides both independent apartment homes and assisted living for 385 seniors.

Professional reasons aside, Biere stressed the importance of being near his family as motivation to

take on the challenge of running Plymouth Place.

He has four grown sons living in the Chicago area, and his seven grandchildren are getting to the age

where they are involved in various activities and he doesn’t want to miss out on spending time with

them while they are growing up.

Biere noted that as a farm kid growing up with seven brothers and sisters — one of whom was

adopted — he learned the importance of family and the value of committing oneself to work.

“Faith, family and a commitment to work were important,” he said. “If the farm doesn’t run, you

don’t eat.”