woman at podium
Principle LTC President and CEO Lynn Hood delivers her acceptance speech after receiving the 2024 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo by Tori Soper Photography)

CHICAGO — Skilled nursing, senior living and home care representatives celebrated the accomplishments of dozens of professional standouts during the 2024 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Awards and Forum ceremony Tuesday.

The annual celebration of long-term care’s best and brightest women up-and-comers and leaders this year began with two educational sessions on leadership, mentorship and organizational culture, as well as the top concern of every provider: the workforce shortage. The sessions were moderated by McKnight’s Senior Living Editor Lois A. Bowers and McKnight’s Home Care Editor Liza Berger.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction Forum, held at the JW Marriott, was followed by a cocktail reception and formal dinner, during which honorees were celebrated and presented with engraved trophies marking their accomplishments.

Fifty of this year’s 59 Hall of Honor, Veteran VIP, Rising Star and Spirit Award winners attended the gala, where peers and family members gathered to network and celebrate those making a difference in the long-term care industry. This is the sixth annual Women of Distinction Awards celebration.

Lynn Hood, (pictured) president and CEO of North Carolina-based Principle LTC, was honored with the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award. Hood’s work has earned her the label of changemaker for long-term care, both for her ability to act confidently in emergencies and for being a champion of employees. 

A degreed nurse, Hood became a long-term care administrator at age 24. She spent 27 years with HCR ManorCare and has served in her current position since 2017.

Hood dedicated her speech to women and other underserved populations and minorities in the long-term care industry. 

Sharing the story of a gift from her mother — a necklace with a cracked circle of glass signifying Hood cracking the glass ceiling — Hood celebrated women over 50 who helped her break that ceiling. She called on women under 50 to “explode” it.

She called on fellow leaders to surround themselves with the most talented people, then “get out of their way and watch them work.”

“Our industry has been crushed. We’re treated like the bad guys … but we do damn good work,” she said, calling on the industry to “be bold” and “tell the world” about the good work its people do. “We have an honorable job. … our patients deserve to feel good about coming to us.”

Women of Distinction candidates are nominated in four categories:

  • The Hall of Honor recognizes senior-level professionals in the C suite or at a level equivalent to vice president.
  • Veteran VIPs (added in 2021) have more than 15 years of experience and are making an impact in long-term care typically at a level lower than vice president or its equivalent.
  • Rising Stars are candidates aged 40 or fewer years or are of any age but have fewer  than 15 years of experience in the profession. All have quickly demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the industry.
  • Spirit Awards (added in 2022) recognize inspiring service to communities, residents or patients. 

“Congratulations to these extraordinary women,” said John O’Connor, McKnight’s editorial director, vice president and associate publisher. “Their unmatched commitment has made a significant impact on their organizations and especially on those they serve. By their deeds and examples, they truly exemplify what it means to be ‘Women of the Year.’”

To learn more about this year’s honorees, flip through the digital commemorative booklet.

Several of this year’s winners, along with a past honoree, participated in the Forum panels, which preceded the awards dinner. The panels focused on leadership, mentorship and organizational culture, and the long-term care workforce shortage.

You can keep up to date with the entire McKnight’s Women of Distinction program and watch for details on next year’s entry period at mcknights.com. For more inspiration, browse lists of previously honored women by year and category. 

Healthcare Services Group is the Platinum sponsor of this year’s event. PointClickCare is the Gold sponsor. PharMerica is the Silver sponsor. Other sponsors are Curana Health, DirecTV, Easyshifts, Reliant Rehabilitation, ShiftKey and Sentrics.