Jim Berklan

I can’t think of many things more maligned over the last generation than the participation trophy in children’s sports. You know: Show up, get an award.

By inverse logic, I think that is what makes the McKnight’s Pinnacle Awards so popular. These most distinguished honors in the long-term care sector recognize the “best of the best” — and nominees must have served in the sector for at least 20 years.

In other words: No plaque for just showing up.

In March, we honored the first class of Pinnacle Award winners, and it was a sight to behold. It was almost as if the sector had been waiting for someone to finally wake up and declare, “Hey, this field is loaded with wonderful servant leaders — long-time, deserving leaders — so how about shouting from the treetops about that?”

Well, to that I say: Let the shouting re-commence. Entries are now being accepted for the 2nd Annual McKnight’s Pinnacle Awards. 

You either work for or know of an outstanding skilled nursing, senior living or home care leader. Now’s the time to let them know how much you think of them by throwing their name into consideration for this esteemed honor.

Pinnacle Awards

In case you’re wondering if this attention pleases these dedicated, often stoic leaders, the answer is you bet it does, and rightfully so. Memories of so many of last year’s winners dancing up to, and on, the awards platform, still burn bright. (Take a peek at some of that coverage here.)

They, after all, are a big reason for hope in this sector, and major reasons this field can expect a better reputation than it is tagged with. First-year program winners came from all types of ownership classes and employment departments.

Easy entry

The great thing about this program is its beauty and relative simplicity: 1) Find someone who’s spent two decades or more doing good work, 2) go to www.mcknightspinnacleawards.com, 3) answer the basic needs of the entry form (no self-entries for this one, sorry!) and 4) wait for the winners to be announced in December. A national, independent judging panel tells us who makes it.

The standard deadline for entries is Friday, Oct. 20, after which a late fee will be added during an extra two-week entry window (closing for good Nov. 5).

Nominations can be made in these broadly themed categories: 

  • Setting the Standard Award
  • Agent of Change Award
  • Inspiration Award
  • Thought Leader Award
  • Unsung Hero Award
  • Industry Ally Award
  • Business Partner Award

There also will be a special Career Achievement Award winner, as chosen by event organizers. Last year’s honoree was Robert G. Kramer, co-founder of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care and founder and current fellow of Nexus Insights. He was an awesome choice, and an outstanding featured speaker.

Winners will be honored again at a grand banquet at the historic Ivy Room in downtown Chicago on March 21, 2024. The inaugural bash, held in March this year, was the most fun l’ve had at long-term care event so far in 2023. I’m sure I have a lot of company among the sold-out crowd who share the sentiment. 

2023 Career Achievement Award winner Robert G. Kramer delivered an inspiring acceptance speech.(Photo credit: Tori Soper )

So please get the wheels turning now to see that your deserving long-term care veterans get the recognition they deserve. Oct. 20 will arrive sooner than you think (36 days and counting …), especially with a busy fall before us.

Head to the entry portal now to see what it’s all about. Stories on each of the 2023 honorees can be found there as well. 

It’s time to honor a new round Pinnacle Award winners. 

They have, after all, done far more than just show up for the last 20-plus years. With your help, a grateful sector is poised to salute them.

James M. Berklan is McKnight’s Executive Editor.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.