Elizabeth Newman

It may be premature to hope that 2019 is long-term care’s overdue Year of the Woman, but two events give me hope.

One was the news yesterday that 42-year-old Katherine E. Potter will be the new president and CEO at Five Star Senior Living. Potter’s been with the company since 2012 as executive vice president and general counsel. Her corporate law background includes mergers/acquisitions and transactions. It would be hard not to see that as desirable for a company attempting to catch its breath after a third quarter that posted a net loss of $21.6 million.

While no one is criticizing outgoing president and CEO Bruce J. Mackey Jr., I also imagine no one missed the positive optics of Potter taking the reins. Long-term care facility payrolls are filled with women, especially running clinical services, but the top executives of big companies have traditionally been white men who, let’s say, often bring a wealth of experience.Potter sends a message of youthful female empowerment, and a signal that Five Star may be entering a new chapter.

The second event that I hope reflects change is admittedly one of our own creation. As McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living looked at the eldercare landscape, we saw many dedicated female executives, directors and thought leaders who, year after year, put in the work without the recognition.

That’s why we created the McKnight’s Women of Distinction program. We have two categories: Hall of Honor and Rising Stars. Hall of Honor is meant to induct a select group of women who are at an executive level, either in administration or direct care, at any skilled nursing or senior living community. Those who work in associations or other industry groups are eligible. Other nominees can be professionals in academia, policy specialists and various thought leaders and activists.

The Rising Stars category will honor nominees under the age of 40, as well as top performers with less than 15 years of experience in this field.

We’ve made it easy to submit a nomination for a co-worker — click here and submit basic information such as job history. Or submit yourself. Until Jan. 18, it is free to enter, with a nominal late fee of $25 for almost two weeks afterwards. We encourage you to use #womenofdistinction online when talking about the program —  spread the word and you can even say who you’re submitting.

The initial outpouring of enthusiasm for the program reflects what we thought: There’s a desire to honor women in skilled care and assisted living. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to highlight someone you believe should be honored. They deserve as much.

Follow Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman @TigerELN.