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Portrait Project: Anita Holt

Anita Holt

“Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to ensure your ability to take care of others.”

From the moment Anita Holt came to Durham, she felt at home. Like her native Pittsburgh, Durham is a city that has been reimagined and maintained its vibrancy. She refers to the Bull City as “a place where you are invited to be yourself.” This description equally applies to The Forest at Duke. From the beginning, Anita was inspired by The Forest’s residents—academics and professionals with deep philanthropic and political engagement in the city of Durham.

After four years as CEO, what Anita values most are the relationships with and between the residents, their families, and the staff. “There are overt efforts to make everyone feel welcome here,” she says. “This happens even when no one is looking.”

In graduate school, Anita was captivated by the notion that in aging there is purpose, value, contribution, and the opportunity to be defined by something other than loss or diminution. As such, she stresses meaningful engagement as an essential part of daily life at The Forest, whose residents span four generations of retirees.

Similarly, Anita believes in fostering the active growth of every staff member, even if achieving their highest potential leads to an experience beyond The Forest. With more than 25 years of executive leadership experience in continuing care and senior communities, Anita knows that sometimes, empowering others is simply about getting out of the way.

As for herself, Anita’s time at The Forest has taught her to value the time that is her own. Time to pursue different interests, travel, and make time for friends and family—not out of need or obligation, but for the sheer pleasure of it.

CEO of The Forest at Duke since 2015