More than 50 industry leaders, along with LifeTime Achievement Award winner Mary Ousley, were championed Tuesday during the 2021 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Awards ceremony. 

The third annual event, which celebrates top women in skilled nursing and senior living, culminated with a 90-minute online ceremony featuring a video montage of the honorees, words of encouragement from two NFL players and praise from a Senate leader on aging issues. 

“We just want to give you a huge congratulations to all those nurses and nursing homes doing it through the pandemic, through all of the struggles,” Devin and Jason McCourty, twins who played defensive back for the New England Patriots for the last three years, said during the presentation. “All of the sacrifices you’re making, just the things that you’re doing to help others, it is just tremendous. Keep up the good work and keep it going.” 

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), chairman of the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, also thanked the 19 Hall of Honor inductees, 15 Veteran VIPs and 17 Rising Stars who were feted during the ceremony. 

“Thank you for your tireless work to provide our loved ones in long-term care facilities with high-quality care,” Casey said. “Despite so much loss, women working in senior living and care communities will help us bring light to the darkness of the past 14 months, so I thank you for that good work.” 

Ousley, chief strategy officer for long-term care giant PruittHealth and a past chair of the American Health Care Association, said she was surprised and humbled after learning she had been named this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

“I was almost speechless and then I quickly began to reflect about how fast the years have gone,” she said. “As I reflected, I thought that perhaps they have gone so fast because, with very few exceptions, I have enjoyed every day of being a part of the post-acute and the long-term care profession.” 

Ousley credited all of her colleagues throughout the years and said she hopes she’s been a part of moving the long-term care industry forward. 

“I am humbled, and I so appreciate this recognition,” Ousley said. 

The celebration will continue on Wednesday with the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Forum. That event will offer three live educational webinars during which all professionals will have the opportunity to earn up to three CE credits.

To view Tuesday’s full ceremony or to register, visit