Presenting the 2018 LeadingAge National Award Winners
September 10, 2018 | by Amanda Marr
Join us in honoring organizations and individuals doing selfless and innovative work to improve the lives of older adults.
Join us in honoring organizations and individuals doing selfless and innovative work to improve the lives of older adults.
Behind every great aging-services organization, there are caring, committed people who exemplify the best of our field. We salute the creativity, compassion and leadership of the 2018 honorees, presented here. They will accept their awards at this year’s LeadingAge Annual Meeting + Expo, Oct. 28-31 in Philadelphia.
Daniel Reingold has devoted his 37-year career to advancing the mission of The Hebrew Home at Riverdale (and now RiverSpring Health), to LeadingAge, and to empowering older adults.
Through creativity, resourcefulness and passion, Reingold uses his skills to change the way older adults are served. Programs developed under his leadership win awards, and are often replicated.
He is an effective advocate in advancing legislation, regulation and policies at every level of government to improve care, services and benefits to the people LeadingAge members serve.
Reingold has served with distinction on the boards of LeadingAge New York, The Greater New York Hospital Association and LiveOn New York. He is past chair of the Continuing Care Leadership Coalition and current chair of the Association of Jewish Aging Services. He is currently developing New York City’s first life plan community, having secured changes to NYC’s zoning laws.
Under Reingold’s leadership, RiverSpring Health has evolved from a long-term care organization to a health care system that cares for 18,000 older adults from independent living to the end of life. He has built a model that successfully guides seniors through the maze that health care has become.
As a nonprofit, Immanuel is driven by a higher purpose to do things right. Immanuel serves seniors with compassion and devotes resources to bettering its communities and the well-being of residents and staff. Additionally, the organization’s mission, “Christ-Centered Service to Seniors, Each Other and the Community,” inspires it to be a responsible steward outside of its walls—to support organizations driven by similar callings.
Immanuel puts people first, and that emphasis guides its day-to-day decisions and the direction of the organization. In 2017, this meant serving nearly 1,400 seniors in every financial market through award-winning retirement communities; helping nearly 400 Medicare and Medicaid qualifying seniors with chronic conditions remain living at home; awarding over $2 million to community organizations; and providing nearly $350,000 in assistance to residents and employees in need.
Created in 2015, the Immanuel Vision Foundation extends its mission through the work of other nonprofit, charitable 501(c)(3) organizations whose purpose aligns with its own: “Meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of seniors; respond to needs in community health; and support the ministry of the church.”
In 2017, over $2 million in grants were awarded to organizations that also work to enrich the lives of those they serve. Grants from the Foundation have gone to organizations including the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and related ministries, community service organizations and senior centers.
In spring 2018, Immanuel learned of 21 Nebraska nursing homes placed into receivership for inability to make payroll. The employees of the affected communities had been unpaid for nearly a month, yet caregivers continued to serve, keeping the well-being of residents top of mind. Inspired by these unsung heroes and driven by a mission of helping neighbors in need, Immanuel immediately donated gift cards to the unpaid employees and designated $250,000 to help purchase food and supplies for the needs of residents.
Founded on faith in 1990, Garden Spot Communities is a nonprofit provider of innovative housing and lifestyle services for older adults. Its mission states, “We will enrich the lives of older adults as an expression of Christ’s love.”
The organization’s leadership team recognized the need for affordable housing for people aged 62 and over who have fixed incomes. It explored many different opportunities and concepts in a search for an affordable housing model, but quickly realized that every model depended on government subsidies. Determined to find a solution that did not require subsidies, but instead relied on the local community, the group began to explore the idea of a Cooperative Living House. The concept was a mix of a sorority house and Golden Girls—a home where people can live together affordably and in community.
A critical piece of the project was community involvement. Garden Spot Communities’ CEO, Steve Lindsey, believed that the project, to be successful, should be bigger than Garden Spot Village. In early 2015, leaders from local businesses, nonprofits and churches were invited to learn more about the concept and participate in the building of the home.
The steering committee gathered financial and community support. It also worked with architects and land planners to create the concept drawings and blueprints. The home includes 5 master bedrooms and bathrooms, a common living room, kitchen, sitting room, entertainment room and laundry. The home intentionally includes personal and community spaces so that residents can connect with others and have privacy as well.
Through the spring and early summer of 2017, members of the Garden Spot Village Woodshop built wall panels off-site. When final building permits were secured in summer 2017, building began in earnest. Volunteers from Weaver Construction & Roofing, Revelations of Freedom Ministries, Franklin & Marshall College, the New Holland Rotary, New Holland Mennonite Church and Garden Spot High School helped build the home. Dave Musselman, a local contractor, served as the general contractor.
Throughout the project, a subgroup of the steering committee began to connect with people who were interested in living in the house and sorted through applications, finding just the right mix of people to live together. The 5 selected residents moved into their rooms in March 2018. Through the support of Garden Spot Village social workers, residents and other New Holland-based social services organizations, the strangers quickly found a way to live together as friends.
At Three Pillars, prioritizing employees is critical not only to staff success, but also the success of the organization’s mission. Employees are integral in providing the best lifestyle for the older adults who call Three Pillars home. The organization and its residents value these employees for their work.
Three Pillars has a number of formal programs that exemplify the respect Three Pillars has for its team. However, it’s the less formal programs that resonate most with staff. When asked what the best parts about working at Three Pillars are, their answers are often the same: “The amazing residents and coworkers.” Their passion for the mission-focused work they do is inspiring to others. The unique, family-like feel of the work culture and emphasis on work/life balance is important to both employees and leadership.
Employees are held to high standards, their strengths are recognized and nurtured, and Three Pillars consistently strives to offer innovative ways to express gratitude for their commitment while encouraging them to learn and grow. Employees across all levels are active participants in enrichment programs and decision making. Last year, a staggering 13% of the organization’s employees celebrated employment anniversaries of 10 years or more.
Those who know Julie Thorson know her to be a natural-born leader. As a coach’s daughter, leadership, coaching and mentoring are in her blood. The Friendship Haven campus culture encourages employees to have passions outside of the workplace and to talk freely about what makes each of them tick. That is why each employee of Friendship Haven has their passion on their name badge. Thorsen’s passion listed on her nametag is leadership. Her devotion to resident-centered care and a fun, compassionate and caring workplace don’t just turn off when the workday is done.
Her passion for leadership is reflected in her hometown and through the senior-living community at both local and national levels. Thorsen enjoys every opportunity that comes her way, from being able to speak with high school students on leadership to assisting with the restructuring of the LeadingAge Iowa Emerge Leadership Academy. She serves as a mentor for Academy Fellows. She is also a regular contributor to McKnight’s Senior Living, providing a monthly blog titled “Living Leadership.”
* Julie Thorsen’s nomination was submitted in the Excellence in the Workplace category. However, the awards committee felt strongly that Julie’s nomination was better suited for this category and that her leadership in mentoring is worthy of this award.
Camphill Ghent is the only integrated assisted living home in New York State serving seniors both with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (I /DD). Community integration for I/DD individuals is core to Camphill Ghent’s inclusion and nondiscriminatory philosophy and practices.
At Camphill Ghent, seniors with intellectual and developmental disabilities are active participants in all levels of the community’s activities, whether social, recreational, artistic or volunteer. For example, many I/DD residents are members of the hand chimes (similar to hand bells) choir, making music alongside residents who are former music teachers and choir enthusiasts. Some residents use their time to give back to other organizations through volunteer projects. Others read and write poetry alongside former professors and songwriters.
Camphill Ghent’s commitment to community membership for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities came in response to the need for appropriate residential communities for seniors with disabilities. This value stemmed from the international Camphill organization. Founded in 1939 and established in North America in 1959, Camphill was in the forefront of meeting the needs of the I/DD population within a cooperative community, where each member contributes his or her own special gifts and talents based on their abilities, rather than disabilities.
Terry Allton Spitznagel oversaw the development of the National Church Residences Home for Life program. Home for Life is a proactive, outcome-based model that connects older adults to appropriate community services that help them remain at home.
The model has 4 elements: enhanced service coordination; a management tool for assessing needs; a partnership with a preferred health care provider in each community; and a socialization program.
Adena Health System in Chillicothe, OH, partnered with National Church Residences beginning in April 2016 to integrate the Home for Life program for 100 COPD patients, and Spitznagel oversaw the implementation of this pilot.
The Home for Life program developed by Spitznagel and her team advances the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s primary goal of ensuring that all Americans can lead healthy lives and achieve overall well-being, regardless of their location or socioeconomic background. The health disparities in the rural setting of Chillicothe, OH, where public transportation is nonexistent, are issues for the patients in this study every day, as they struggle not only with transportation, but with nutrition and socialization. The success of this study shows a potential solution in using enriched service coordinators to help improve health outcomes for the people most impacted by health disparities. The simple addition of the Home for Life program demonstrated success in building a culture of health and changing a rural hospital system’s service model, improving health and well-being for patients with high-risk histories.
As director of nursing (DON) at The Admiral at the Lake, Angela Jalloh, RN, oversees nursing staff and resident care at The Harbors, the community’s skilled nursing and assisted living setting.
Jalloh has earned a reputation for coaching, mentoring and educating team members so they feel accomplished and competent. She’s been credited with changing the employee culture at The Admiral by setting a high bar for staff achievement while, at the same time, offering to help team members meet or exceed that bar. She’s also modeled success in this area for other leadership team members.
Jalloh is known for her willingness to support and make accommodation for any team member who is experiencing an emergency or going through a difficult time. That willingness has had an impact on retention rates, according to care partners who welcome Jalloh’s willingness to listen to their feedback, involve them in decision making and make changes to accommodate their needs.
Care partners describe Jalloh as someone with a caring and approachable character who doesn’t hesitate to jump in and share caregiving responsibilities when her team needs help. They praise Jalloh for involving them in care planning meetings, and for implementing a meal voucher program for team members who agree to cover an extra shift on their days off.
Jalloh has also succeeded in breaking down siloes at The Admiral by encouraging team members to support other departments by floating from one level of living to another when the need arises. Following this practice, The Admiral has not used agency staff, and its staffing has stabilized, since Jalloh became DON in 2017.
Amanda Marr is vice president of communications for LeadingAge.