McKnight's Women of Distinction 2021 logo

A group of 15 women that includes executive directors and administrators from across the U.S. are being honored as part of the inaugural class of Veteran VIPs in the 2021 McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards program. 

The new VIP category for industry veterans recognizes candidates who have more than 15 years of experience, are making an impact on the senior living or skilled nursing fields and are at a level lower than vice president or its equivalent.

“We congratulate these truly deserving industry veterans,” said McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor. “Their hard work and unrelenting dedication has helped make life better for countless residents. They are an inspiration to us all.”

Women of Distinction honorees were selected by an independent national panel of two dozen judges evaluating length and breadth of service, as well as various posts and other activities displaying a strong sense of leadership.

Veteran VIPs Class of 2021

Christiana Bonsu, Director of Resident Care, Somerford Place Columbia, Five Star Senior Living, Columbia, MD

Charlene Boyd, Administrator, Providence Mount St. Vincent, Seattle

Johnnie Brooks, Administrator,Treutlen County Health and Rehabilitation, Soperton, GA

Amanda Brown, Nursing Home Administrator, Rochester Regional Health, Rochester, NY

Jean Bryan, Executive Director, Harrison Senior Living, East Fallowfield, PA

Traci Bullens, Infection Control Coordinator / Patient Safety Director, Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center, Mount Vernon, KY

Estela Divino, Director of Social Work, Regal Heights Rehabilitation Center, Jackson Heights, NY

Barbara Galindo, Administrator, Residential Plaza at Blue Lagoon, Miami

Juliet Holt Klinger, Senior Director, Dementia Care Program, Brookdale Senior Living, Chicago

Nemse Paguntalan, Assistant Director of Nursing, Fellowship Senior Living, Basking RIdge, NJ

Janice Pate, Director of Nursing, Bayview, Seattle

Sandy Skerda, Executive Director, Eliza Jennings – The Renaissance Retirement Campus, Olmsted Township, OH

Jaime Smiley, Clinical Education Coordinator, Medical Facilities of America, Roanoke, VA

Gail Spencer, Executive Director, Promenade at Chestnut Ridge, Chestnut Ridge, NY

Tracy Zamora, Social Service Director, Heritage of Bel-Air, Norfolk, NE

The 2021 class of Rising Stars, which recognizes excellence in less experienced professionals, was announced Wednesday. McKnight’s Long-Term Care News will reveal the third class of Hall of Honor inductees in the Daily Update on Friday. The 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award winner will be announced in early March. 

Each honoree will be recognized with a video presentation during a special online ceremony May 18, as well as with print and online news coverage. Once again, the morning after the ceremony, McKnight’s will host a special educational forum for all professionals, including both women and men, in the skilled nursing and senior living industries. Top leaders will speak at three CE-earning educational webinars.

For past coverage of McKnight’s Women of Distinction events, visit the sub tab under the “Events” pulldown menu at

PointClickCare is the Diamond sponsor of this year’s event.