One of the core tenets of Andrea Leebron-Clay’s career in long-term care has been understanding what she says is a “commonsense thing.”

“People don’t want to be in nursing homes. So I said to my staff, ‘Let’s see what it would take to get these people out,” she said recently.

Andrea Leebron-Clay receiving Hall of Honor award
Andrea Leebron-Clay with McKnight’s Deputy Editor Elizabeth Newman. Photo: Social Snacks

Leebron-Clay, 71, founded Nightingale Healthcare in 2014 after taking a break, learning how to make documentaries, and philanthropy that includes founding a secondary school in Kenya. But she was drawn to returning to work because of being “an idealist.”

“I’ve always believed that nursing homes don’t have to be considered the way that they are,” she said.

Her mother having died when she was 12, she said her inspiration and first mentor was her grandmother.

“I lost my mother early on, but Granny had secret aspirations of being a nurse,” explained Leebron-Clay, whose father was a physician.

In addition to her successful career and philanthropic interests, which includes fostering animals for the Humane Society, Leebron-Clay has pursued education that includes graduating from clown school, completing her Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry, and most recently, becoming a volunteer firefighter. 

Married to Jim Clay, her children include Pete Wolkin, Nightingale’s chief operating officer. His mother was a “big driving force” in his choice of career, he said.

“She allowed us to be very independent,” he explained. “She raised four boys on her own while going to nursing school and then becoming a nurse manager, and then an owner. She’s always been a very good role model, and also a good friend.” 

McKnight’s Women of Distinction is a joint program of McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program’s exclusive Platinum sponsor is PointClickCare.