Conchy Bretos: Serving A Neglected Market
Conchy Bretos was 14 years old when she came to the U.S. along with 14,000 unaccompanied children as part of the Peter Pan Airlift. This was in 1962 when Fidel Castro took over Cuba and thousands of middle- and upper-class Cubans sent their children to the U.S.
She went with her 10 year old brother but got separated upon arriving. She lived in an orphanage in Nebraska. Three years later that her parents were able to get her. Their family lived in Florida making a living through manual labor like picking tomatoes.
She finished college and also earned an MBA degree in Australia. Bretos held varied jobs including as a program director for the World Health Organization, a series of university jobs, director of the Dade County Commission on the Status of Women, and Secretary for Aging and Adult Services of Florida.
In her last job she saw low-income and disabled adults living in squalid and crowded conditions- the system did not properly care for them and Medicaid budgets were also rising. Instead of nursing homes what a good portion of the senior citizen population needed was assisted living facilities. The cost of these facilities was beyond the means of low-income elders. After leaving the government she was principally responsible for setting up the Helen Sawyer building in Miami. This was the nation’s first public housing project to bring assisted living services to older adults which costs less than nursing homes.
In 1995 she founded MIA Consulting now known as MIA Senior Living Solutions. It is a for-profit consulting company that develop, operate and own senior living facilities in the U.S. east coast area and primarily focused in Florida. Operating for more than 16 years the company has managed over 1,000 units; this includes assisted living and continuum-of-care facilities.