Francis Kirley to Speak at Elms College’s 91st Commencement on May 14

CHICOPEE — Francis Kirley, president and CEO of Nexion Health, will deliver the commencement address for the Elms College class of 2022 and receive an honorary degree. The college’s 91st commencement exercises take place on Saturday, May 14 at 10 a.m. (the academic procession starts at 9:30 a.m.) at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

As the founder and president and CEO of Nexion Health, Kirley leads 42 skilled-nursing facilities in Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. He has more than 32 years of acute and long-term healthcare-management experience and founded Nexion to be a strong, clinically driven healthcare organization.

Kirley serves as chairman of the American Health Care Assoc. PAC and is a board member of the Louisiana Nursing Home Assoc., the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the Warfield Development Center in Sykesville, Md. He ended a term on the Elms College board of trustees in 2021. Kirley earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in 1973, and completed his MBA at Western New England College in 1980.

Honorary degrees will also be awarded to Karen Keating Ansara, founder and chair of the Network of Engaged International Donors, and Sr. Maureen Ann Kervick, former administrator at Elms College, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the world.

Ansara and her husband, Jim, make grants to end global poverty with a focus on Haiti. In late 2008, she launched New England International Donors, now the Network of Engaged International Donors, a nationwide network of more than 180 philanthropists, foundations, and impact investors learning and funding to address the world’s big problems. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Ansara co-founded the Haiti Fund at the Boston Foundation, now the Haiti Development Institute, which strengthens Haitian-led organizations and connects funders to them.

Kervick taught at schools in the Springfield and Providence dioceses before becoming administrator at Mont Marie Infirmary. She was director of Student Services and dean of students at Elms College, associate retreat director of Our Lady of Sorrows Monastery in West Springfield, and a nursing instructor at Springfield College. She also served as vice president of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield from 1987 to 1993. She was both administrator and executive director at St. Gabriel’s Youth House in Shelter Island Heights, N.Y., and director of Programs for Catholic Charities of Greater Boston. She returned to Elms College as director of campus ministry. Currently, she is site supervisor for Passionist Volunteers International in Jamaica.