We Honor Women in Leadership for Women's History Month (Part III)
March 21, 2019
March is Women’s History Month, and in celebration, Westminster Communities of Florida has been highlighting the contributions women make to the leadership of our organization. These leaders represent every area of our organization, and make an impact in all of them. We’re thankful to have such excellent leaders to help guide us in living out our Mission.
“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another,” said Serena Williams, the tennis star. “We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be kind, and above all, be humble.”
Today, we interview leaders who have made an impact on our Mission and helped us improve our ability to fulfill it.
“When we come together as an organization and collaborate as leaders from different genders and ethnicities, we all do better work. There are more and more women leaders in our organization, which creates more opportunities for other women to look up to them as mentors,” said Sophia Morgan, Assistant Controller.
Our Finance Department and people like Morgan play an unsung role in ensuring that we can continue to serve our residents, because, as CEO Roger Stevens often says, “With no margin, there is no Mission.” Earlier in her career, she sought to work for a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, and landed at Westminster Communities of Florida, where she began as a general ledger accountant.
Morgan adds that mentorship is a critically important role that women, and especially women of color, can provide to offer more opportunity. “We want to give other women hope that they can grow within our organization as well,” she said. “Mentors help you aspire and achieve your opportunities. Getting more women into leadership roles will encourage others to step up.”
Lisa Bloder, Regional Health Services Director, offered a similar assessment of the benefits of mentorship — to help us live out our Mission. “I believe it is important to be a mentor to our staff, to help them be the best they can be in providing quality care to our residents,” Bloder said. “A majority of our residents are women, so I believe having women in leadership roles allows us to have a better understanding of the female perspective, and how business and clinical decisions for living in our communities will affect them.”
Bloder has worked for Westminster Communities of Florida since 1999, and she has discovered that, “Our strength comes from the belief that together, we are stronger.” She completed her master’s degree in 2016, with the support of our educational benefits, and has found encouragement over the last 20 years to grow in different positions and increase her knowledge.
To Bloder, the Mission is central to everything. She recalls then-CEO James Emerson saying to her, “Lisa, we will always put the care of our residents first. Make sure we are providing what the resident needs.” At that moment, Bloder recounts, “I knew that the Mission of this organization was truly at the heart of all we do.”
That empathy is a strength of our organization, as recounted by Teri West, Director of Clinical Services at Westminster Pharmacy Services. “The people who work in the organization really care,” West says. “The people who stay within the Westminster family, stay because their faith in the Mission is strong and their love for the residents brings them back every day. You can’t teach caring.”
Having women in leadership, she adds, helps provide a diversity of experience and perspective that makes the whole organization stronger. “Because of their dedication to resilience and balance, women can truly embrace the Mission and the responsibility of the stretches that are needed in their roles to care for our residents,” she says.
West, who was raised by a very independent mother in a single-parent household, said that she always believed she could accomplish anything. “My mother always told me, I can become whatever I want to be, no boundaries. I don’t think of myself differently based on my gender when it comes to my work,” she said.
“The residents are the reason for us being where we are, the core of the Mission,” West said.
We asked these leaders what advice they would give to women who are seeking to grow as leaders themselves.
Morgan’s advice was simple: Keep an eye out for how you can continue to grow. “My advice is to never lose out on opportunities that can possibly exist,” she said. “See the world through a lens of opportunity, especially those unseen.”
Meanwhile, Bloder recommends focusing on completing the task at hand: “Take baby steps. Take one thing at a time, do it well, and proceed to the next item. Never let fear stop you from trying something new. And make mistakes, as [CEO] Roger Stevens says — but only new mistakes.”
Lastly, West said, “Be part of the solution to challenges. It’s easy to point at all the things that others could be, and should be, doing that they are not. You have to start with asking one simple question: ‘What can I do?’ ”
How is Westminster Communities of Florida honoring women throughout March? We look forward to sharing the final installment in this series with you soon!
For this year’s LeadingAge Florida Legislative Days, Westminster Communities of Florida is proud to be advocates for those we serve: All older adults throughout Florida.
On Tuesday, our senior leadership and leaders from Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee were delighted to meet at the State Capitol with senators and representatives who represent our communities in the Capitol, along with some of our partners from LeadingAge Florida. We want to thank Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers, Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando and Rep. Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee for meeting with us.
During our meetings we advocated on key issues affecting older adults in Florida and in all of our communities. We discussed the following key issues for our communities:
Affordable housing for seniors
Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) regulatory reform
Certificate of Need process in Florida
Nursing home staffing modernization
Westminster Communities of Florida appreciates the opportunity to meet with Sens. Stewart and Benacquisto and Reps. Eskamani and Ausley, and to discuss these issues of importance to seniors throughout Florida.
Throughout March, We're Celebrating Women in Leadership (Part II)
March 13, 2019
Throughout Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting the contributions of women in leadership roles in our organization. We are fortunate to have countless team members who exemplify our Mission of service. Today, we interview two leaders who put our faith-based Mission at the core of their service to our organization. As Saint Mother Teresa said, "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples."
“I’m a mother to four daughters — no sons – and entered a profession that was off limits to women for centuries, so I have a deep sensitivity to challenges women face in the workforce from multiple sources,” said the Rev. Jan Banker, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and chaplain at Westminster Shores in St. Petersburg. “When I first joined the organization, I wanted a new experience other than serving in a local congregation that would build on my passions and also utilize my gifts and experience. I highly valued working for a church-related organization that considered chaplains important enough to make sure each of their communities employs one. I was drawn by the size and diversity of the staff which makes for a work environment that stimulates and broadens my horizons in ways most local churches cannot.”
Being from the first generation of Presbyterian women to graduate from seminary, Rev. Banker said, “Many of us struggled to get ordained and receive calls to congregations. The stained-glass ceiling–as we clergy women call it–was pressing down on me from the very start.” But, she adds, “I’ve found more parity, support and acceptance at Westminster Communities of Florida.”
An organization with a Mission inspired by the Bible has served other leaders in our organization well. Our CEO, Roger Stevens, assigns new leaders the Book of Proverbs, and encourages them to follow a path of ethical and moral leadership.
Suzanne Barnes, AIA
“I completely agree with biblical principles that support our Mission,” said Suzanne Barnes, Director of Design in our Management Services office. She quotes Psalm 127:1 as her inspiration: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”
Barnes, an architect, found her career come full circle when she first came to work for our organization. She holds a certificate in gerontology, along with a master’s degree in architecture, and she did her master’s thesis on design for senior living with the support of a Bradenton physician, Dr. Richard Conard. One of the communities she visited as part of her research would later become part of the family of Westminster Communities of Florida: Westminster Point Pleasant.
“I feel a blessing that Westminster offers is the network throughout the state of quality projects at varied levels, with caring colleagues and administrators who take time to handwrite heartfelt cards several times a year,” Barnes said. “I personally feel that my role as a leader is to be a steward and ambassador of our design resources and to make our office an oasis to challenge and dream about better ways to implement successful designs.”
Barnes describes working in senior living design as her “dream job,” and was recently interviewed about her experiences by the Wall Street Journal. Read more about her career and her experience as Director of Design there.
Why, to a leader who is inspired by our Mission and her faith, is it important to have leadership that consists of both men and women? Rev. Banker said that isn’t just good for our organization operationally; it’s also good for the organization spiritually. “Since we are church-related and have a theology that God created male and female in the divine image, we must have women in leadership, including at the very top tiers,” she said.
What are the ways in which we can honor women this month? We look forward to sharing the next installment in this series with you soon.