Editor’s Note: We are profiling the McKnight’s 2020 Women of Distinction honorees daily through the program’s July 28 online awards ceremony. To learn more about this digital celebration, the Forum the next day (which offers three free continuing education credits July 29) or the program in general, visit mcknightswomenofdistinction.com.

Audra Gutierrez-Ritari’s motto for most things in life is, “If you can do it, you should.” She passes that message down to her children to encourage them to help those in need. The maxim also is something she lives by. The proof is in her service to the skilled nursing industry. 

It was more than 10 years ago when Gutierrez-Ritari started her career in caregiving as the social services/activities director for a skilled nursing facility. She later would work as a business office manager before completing a nine-month training program and becoming a licensed nursing home administrator.

Gutierrez-Ritari now oversees daily operations as the administrator for View Ridge Care Center, Everett, WA. As an administrator, she strives to understand each of her staff members and find ways to bring out the best in them as they care for residents. She demonstrates her commitment through daily check-ins with residents and an emphasis on listening to their concerns. 

In 2019, she implemented an employee program called Fish Philosophy, which aims to boost employee morale in the workplace. The program has been extremely successful and transformed the climate in the facility, colleagues say. The program also has had a positive effect on residents, many of whom reduced anxiety and stress levels since its implementation.

Gutierrez-Ritari earned her undergraduate degree in English, with a minor in business, from Washington State University. She’s also earned two master’s degrees — one in business, with a focus in accounting, and the other in psychology. She also actively participates in activities and learning opportunities held by regional long-term care groups.

After more than a decade in skilled nursing, it is her compassion for residents and her efforts to learn and elevate those around her that make colleagues believe she will be a leader in the industry for years to come.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. The program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare. Silver sponsors are OnShift and PharMerica, and the Signature sponsors are Acadia Pharmaceuticals and Enquire.