Sixteen outstanding professionals working in skilled nursing, senior living and home care comprise the third class of Veteran VIPs, organizers of McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards program announced Wednesday.

Winners will be celebrated at a gala awards ceremony May 22 in Chicago, along with winners in the Rising Stars category (unveiled Tuesday) and the Hall of Honor category (coming Thursday). There also will be a Lifetime Achievement Award winner and Spirit Award winners, to be announced in the coming days, feted at the gathering, which will include an educational forum earlier in the day.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is a joint effort of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and sister media brands McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Home Care

The Veteran VIP category honors women who have more than 15 years of experience and have made an impact at levels leading up to vice president or its equivalent.

“We are pleased to recognize the contributions of these seasoned professionals, whose knowledge and experience is valued greatly by their skilled nursing, senior living and home care employers,” McKnight’s Editorial Director, Vice President and Associate Publisher John O’Connor said.

The 2023 class of Veteran VIPs:

Ilene Arroyo, Senior Director of Human Resources, The New Jewish Home, New York City

Mary Grace (Grace) Crisostomo, Senior Asset Manager, HumanGood (Beacon Development Group), Duarte, CA

Juliet Fountain, Executive Director, Harrison Senior Living (Harrison House of Snow Hill), Snow Hill MD

Sophia Guel-Valenzuela, Director, Strategy and Special Projects, WelbeHealth PACE, Walnut, CA

Sarah Laloyan, Senior Vice President of Coterie and Signature, Atria, Louisville, KY

Monica McAfee, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, John Knox Village of Florida, Pompano Beach FL

Gina Mizzoni, Traditional Care Director, Benchmark Senior Living, Waltham, MA

Rebecca Murray, Administrator, Bridges Health (The Ambassador Skilled Nursing and Therapy), Tulsa, OK

Robin Nelson, Director of Nursing, Maplewood of Cheshire County, Westmoreland NH

Vicki Nordby, Nurse Consultant, Marquis Companies, Milwaukie, OR

Jackie Pappalardi, Executive Director Foundation for Quality Care, New York State Health Facilities Association / New York State  Center for Assisted Living, Albany, NY

Brenda Perkins, Divisional Resident Engagement Manager – East, Brookdale Senior Living, Brentwood TN

Judy Plantinga, Executive Director, Trilogy Health Services (Cedar Creek Health Campus), Louisville, KY

Sheree Lee Spencer, Director of Nursing, Champion Care (The Bay at Eastview), Antigo, WI

Carol Williams, CEO/Administrator, Hallmark Healthcare of Pekin, Pekin, IL

Stacy Yosko, Director of Resident Services, Harrison Senior Living (Harrison House Chester County), Coatesville PA

Industry-wide acclaim for winners

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards program was judged by a national, independent panel of experts. Overall, 26 states are represented by the honorees across all categories.

In addition to the Veteran VIPs, the awards include a Rising Star category recognizing women who are aged fewer than 40 years or have fewer than 15 years of experience, as well as a Hall of Honor category that recognizes women at a level equivalent to vice president or higher. 

Awards dinner, educational event set for May 22

All of this year’s honorees will be celebrated Monday, May 22, during an in-person cocktail reception, dinner and awards presentation at the JW Marriott in Chicago. The presentation of awards will be preceded by the fourth annual McKnight’s Women of Distinction Forum, which will offer educational sessions featuring industry thought leaders

All events are open to the entire long-term care industry, family members and friends of winners, and anyone else interested in attending.

For more information and to register for either or both events, visit Those with questions about the events should contact Anna Naumoski, senior event manager at the parent company of the McKnight’s brands, Haymarket Media, at [email protected].

Keep up to date with McKnight’s Women of Distinction news on the McKnight’s Long-Term Care News website. See a list of previously honored women by year and category here or an alphabetical list at (scroll down).

PointClickCare is the Diamond sponsor of this year’s event. PharMerica is the Silver sponsor. Additional sponsors include Healthcare Services Group, Omnicare, Sentrics and ShiftKey.