Meet the 2017 LeadingAge National Award Winners
September 18, 2017 | by Amanda Marr
These organizations and individuals are honored for their selfless and innovative work to improve the lives of the seniors they serve.
These organizations and individuals are honored for their selfless and innovative work to improve the lives of the seniors they serve.
Behind every great aging services organization are caring, committed people who exemplify the best of our field. We salute the creativity, compassion and leadership of the 2017 honorees, presented here. They will accept their awards at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting and EXPO, Oct. 29 - Nov. 1, 2017, in New Orleans, LA.
Stephen Proctor has dedicated his long career to improving the lives of seniors. He says it was “always clear to me that serving frail, older persons was more than a job. It was a vocation that was God’s choice for my life.”
Proctor began his 46-year career in aging services in 1971 as the director of nursing at the Schock Home in Mt. Joy, a program of Presbyterian Senior Living (PSL). In 1979, he advanced to the corporate offices as the organization’s chief operating officer (COO). In 1995, he was appointed PSL’s third chief executive officer.
Proctor has been active in aging services organizations, church and philanthropic volunteerism, community and international boards, and in missionary work. Whether leading an organization of 3,000 or serving as president of a nonprofit board of directors, Proctor brings a wealth of talent and innovation to every endeavor.
Founded in 1867, Masonic Homes of Kentucky offers daily living and specialized services to people of all ages, regardless of affiliation. Three campuses—in Louisville, Shelbyville and Northern Kentucky—make it easier than ever for those across the state to take advantage of an extensive continuum of care. As a nonprofit organization, Masonic Homes facilitates and stewards relationships and investments in projects and programs that improve the lives of those served.
Masonic Homes has a life enrichment team of full-time employees and volunteers whose goal is to enrich the life of residents through entertainment, outings and activities. Groups such as Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops visit residents on site, whether to take part in arts and crafts activities or to sing Christmas carols. These sorts of visits not only help residents, but also serve to empower community groups and educate them on the senior population and their unique set of skills and challenges.
Because Masonic Homes was founded by Masons and continues to be run by a board of Masons, offering empowering opportunities for this group is also important. A new Masonic Lodge was completed on campus in 2016 so that local Masons, a group that spends more than $2 million every day in the United States helping others, can continue to be active and attend lodge.
Masonic Homes also continues to hold activities like the annual Great Day of Service, in which Masons from across Kentucky volunteer on the Louisville and Shelbyville campuses to help beautify and perform service projects. The Masons also hold cookouts on campus, and host an annual “farm day” that delights residents and their families, complete with tractors and livestock.
Masonicare, which offers nursing care and services to those unable to fully pay for their care and who meet specific requirements, is another way Masons give back to the community. It is made possible through private funds and donations, with $3 million per year in support.
Saint John’s mission is to enrich the lives of older adults through gracious retirement living, spiritual growth, cultural and educational opportunities and health care services. Saint John’s is a nonprofit life plan community that was founded by Episcopal churchwomen to provide housing to Milwaukee’s needy in 1868.
Students in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s undergraduate course, “Aged to Perfection: An Introduction to Aging,” find the class embedded at Saint John’s and not in a university lecture hall. This first-of-its-kind, 3-credit course offered by the university’s Center for Aging and Translational Research was carefully designed, based on research, to encourage students to choose careers working with older adults by understanding successful aging and experiencing it firsthand.
The teaching model was inspired by Rachelle Alioto, director of the Center for Aging, and co-created by Donna Spars, director of Saint John’s LifeStreams program, with early contributions by a core team of residents. The full curriculum allows students to truly engage with residents in the learning process through stories, discussion and by developing relationships to undo their stereotypes of older adults.
At the end of the second year of partnership, the class enrollment was at maximum, with 21 students compared to last year’s inaugural enrollment of 9, along with 17 residents and one board member. Course discussions include questions such as: How do we define old? What are our biases and stereotypes about older people and aging? What transitions occur as we age? Describe the inner journey as one ages. What happens to our relationships as we age?
The course satisfies a general education requirement for a UW-Milwaukee undergraduate degree and meets a core requirement for a Certificate in Healthy Aging. Classes met weekly during the fall semesters of 2015 and 2016 and will be offered each fall semester at Saint John’s, where residents continue to serve as co-instructors and participants in large and small discussion groups.
Eliza Jennings takes a holistic approach to supporting staff members, who are the heart of the work it does and its most valuable assets. In addition to providing resources that enable employees to achieve success in the workplace, Eliza Jennings offers a network of support and resources to enhance employees’ overall well-being, and facilitate work-life balance.
The organization recognizes the value of fostering employee engagement, development and advancement. Supporting staff members who demonstrate leadership and the desire to further their education and experience is an investment in the development of future leaders within the organization and our field. Partnerships with workforce development programs help expand diversity in the workplace.
With an emphasis on providing a family-friendly work environment, employee assistance programs offer wellness and financial services, elder care and child care resources, counseling and innovative programs to assist staff members experiencing financial hardship.
The success of this level of support for employees is possibly best demonstrated by Eliza Jennings’ experience with staff longevity and the return of former employees, often in positions of increased capacity.
Eliza Jennings is an 8-time recipient of the NorthCoast 99 Award, designating it as one of Northeast Ohio’s top 99 employers for attracting and retaining top talent.
Sue DaCamara has served as a role model and mentor to many associates, both within the Asbury Communities system and through developing leaders within aging services. She demonstrates the qualities of a resilient leader by “walking the talk,” holding herself to high standards of accountability and challenging members of her teams to do the same.
Because of her commitment to Asbury and all of those served by the organization, people know that participating on any team DaCamara leads requires a commitment to its purpose, and that the results will bring value to the organization. She has supported ongoing leadership development through Asbury’s Administrator-in-Training program, actively supporting LeadingAge’s National Larry Minnix Leadership Academy, and most recently through helping to launch the LeadingAge DC, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia Academy.
DaCamara has mentored many professionals, both within Asbury and elsewhere, in their personal growth, resulting in additional responsibilities and promotions within and outside of the Asbury system, and increased leadership roles as part of their state LeadingAge affiliates.
In 2012, residents of Kendal~Crosslands Communities, a life plan community, joined Dr. John Alston, then a music professor at Swarthmore College, and Chester, PA, city educators and advocates to create an educational start-up for the children of Chester. Five years later, Kendal residents and Chester families and teachers are celebrating the success of their partnership and their school, now known as The Chester Charter School for the Arts (CCSA). CCSA is a public nonprofit arts-integrated charter school serving students in the predominantly African American city of Chester, one of the poorest cities in America.
Kendal residents have dedicated their time, talents and resources to CCSA. Residents have been instrumental in making their innovative, urban school a reality—sharing ideas and resources, leading tours to engage new volunteers and supporters, and hosting presentations. When the school first opened, it was in a converted warehouse serving 320 students in grades K-6. Now, 5 years later, CCSA has grown to serve 541 children in grades K-10. CCSA will expand to serve 650 children in grades K-12 in 2018—nearly 10% of Chester’s school-aged population.
Focused on the well-being of older adults, Tabitha has served Nebraska for more than 130 years. Tabitha has a strong commitment to community, deep roots and a solid reputation for all things elder care. Tabitha’s broad range of expertise and service options, combined with a tradition of delivering exceptional quality care, has established it as a “go-to” resource.
Tabitha is viewed as a problem-solver, providing care for the right reasons at the right time in the right way. It does more with less, despite the fiscal challenges that accompany its nonprofit status and the unknowns of the health care system. Through careful financial planning, adapting to current needs, the Tabitha Foundation’s fundraising activities, generous donors, and volunteer and grant support, Tabitha serves elders despite their inability to pay. Compared to competitors, Tabitha serves a higher percentage of underserved elders who utilize Medicaid as their payer source or who cannot pay at all.
Tabitha serves more than 2,500 seniors daily across 28 southeast Nebraska counties, by providing an array of services including living communities, Meals on Wheels, EngAGE™ by Tabitha (a customized consultation and personal services program), Tabitha The Club–Adult Day Services, home health care and hospice services.
The organization is supported by over 1,000 dedicated employees and 1,200 generous volunteers who donate their time, talent and treasure to ensuring exceptional care to elders.
With a legacy of service spanning more than 4 decades, James Seagle has set high standards for quality in elder care. He has been an innovator of programming that truly serves elders, an inspiration to thousands who have known despair, a man of integrity who has fought tirelessly so that aging will be better for generations to come, an interdisciplinary visionary implementing best practices in housing and supportive health services, and an admittedly impossible and determined professional who never stops fighting for the thousands of elders in his care.
Seagle has not only been intentional and serious about creating a best possible future for elders, he is also quick to remind a colleague or friend to confront the prevailing ageism in our culture and to recognize that growing older is both a common goal and a unique gift, if you are just lucky enough to have what you need to enjoy it.
In 2015, Kate West, Eaton Senior Communities’ resident services coordinator, and Sarah Schoeder, Eaton’s wellness director, were open to a new idea: free wellness coaching for low-income residents. West and Schoeder, Eaton's Wellness Coaching Supervisory Team (the WCS Team), have played a vital role in establishing and expanding this program.
Several months after a student intern coach from Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) began working with residents, the WCS Team started seeing positive results from this newer field of study. By the next semester, Eaton had wellness coaching interns in place and serving resident clients.
Eaton was awarded a 2016 LeadingAge Innovations Fund grant to create a replicable framework for this housing provider/university partnership. During the grant work, the WCS Team discovered that universities across the nation are looking for opportunities for real-world coaching experience for their students. Eaton is now working with 2 local housing communities as pilot projects for implementing the framework, available on Eaton's website.
Dr. Bobbie Kite of MSU, along with student interns, are conducting grant-funded, scientifically based research on the effect of wellness coaching on resident health outcomes. Measurement of the positive effects of this program will support its expansion.
Bahaa Barsoum, RN, has been director of nursing at A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab since September 2009. In this role, he directs more than 120 nursing staff members who provide health care and nursing services to residents.
Barsoum is credited with helping A.G. Rhodes introduce a more person-centered model of care. He made several trips to the Netherlands through an exchange program with Marga Klompé, a non-governmental provider of aging services. During those trips, he observed best practices in several care settings, and then led an initiative to implement those practices in Atlanta. Barsoum succeeded in this effort because staff members respect and admire him for always acting in the best interest of residents and staff.
Barsoum is known for his democratic style of leadership, which calls on every staff member to participate in decision-making and problem-solving. He shows respect for staff at all levels, and encourages all members of his interdisciplinary team to work together to coordinate resident care. His practice of establishing a personal relationship with each resident sets a strong example for the entire nursing department, and encourages medical professionals who provide services at A.G. Rhodes to trust his consultation and collaborate with him when coordinating care.
Barsoum has implemented a variety of practices to support nursing and frontline staff, and inspires them to continue their education and professional development. He serves as a mentor to many staff members, and has encouraged 8 licensed practical nurses and 4 certified nursing assistants at A.G. Rhodes to become registered nurses.
Amanda Marr is vice president of communications for LeadingAge.