She's paying it forward

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She's paying it forward
She's paying it forward
So many wondrous moments have punctuated her life, Kay Kallander relies on her Christian faith to explain them.

Such as the time that her MBA class refused to let her withdraw from the program because of back surgery, driving up 5,000 feet to her mountain home to deliver her homework. Or how she discovered long-term care: working on her bachelor's degree in the basement of Plymouth Village retirement community. Even the way she met her husband, the Rev. Ron Kallander. (She merely responded to an ad for a nurse at a church camp.)

“It's just too coincidental,” reflects Kallander. “I guess it's meant to be, or opportunities were put up and sometimes you don't say ‘no.'”

Whether it's divine providence or happenstance, Kallander has built a top-flight career in long-term care that combines a love for older adults with a passion for teaching others in the field. 

Kallander says mentoring is a way to give back to all the people who made her career in long-term care possible.
“The movie ‘Pay It Forward' says it all,” says Kallander, who serves as the head coach of “Leadership AAHSA,” a competitive mentoring program for future leaders. “I was generously mentored early and throughout my career by several colleagues. They had little to gain from my growth and yet they never quit.”

Kallander has more than given back her share, according to those she has mentored.

“She's always my guidance, so to speak, helping me see what I am,” says Alexander Candalla, executive director of The Terraces at Los Gatos, in Los Gatos, CA. “She sees things that other people can't see sometimes.”

One reason Kallander may be such a talented teacher is that she has been tested herself. At the age of 20, she gave birth to a daughter, Autumn Brook, who was sick with allergies and asthma. Planning to be a teacher, Kallander quickly changed course and enrolled in nursing school to be able to care for Autumn, now 39. Kallander also has a son, Matthew, 32, and two grandchildren. Her husband is a chaplain at two retirement communities.  
“It never occurred to me that I would love nursing,” she says.

Her decision to switch careers has brought her experiences she never thought she'd have, such as trekking through the jungles of Cambodian refugee camps as a nurse with World Vision and representing the United States at the first International Alzheimer's and E-Rotary conference in Sydney, Australia.

Because of all her special projects, it's easy to forget she has a day job—serving as senior vice president of strategic planning for American Baptist Homes of the West.

Her favorite day was opening The Grove at Plymouth Village in 1996. The Grove—her brainchild—is a special dementia care unit. That experience was also wrapped in a miracle, as a son of a resident surprised her with a check for $150,000 to open the unit. (There now are five Groves in the company.)

One lesson she says she has taken and passed on to others is to “hire with heart.”

Given her serendipitous career, it seems like sage advice.

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Resume

1973
Receives RN degree from Santa Monica (CA) College

1976
While working in acute and critical care, participates in World Vision global volunteer projects

1985
Takes position as director of nursing at Plymouth Village, a retirement living community that is part of American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW)

1986
Graduates with B.S. in health science from University of Redlands (CA)

1994
Becomes executive director of Plymouth Village

2001
Appointed senior vice president of strategic planning for ABHOW

2008
Receives Dr. Herbert Shore Outstanding
Mentor Award from American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging