LeadingAge PA congratulates Distinguished Service winners making a difference in their senior care communities

By David La Torre
May 10, 2023

50th anniversary of awards recognizes leaders, caregiving professionals, volunteers across PA 



MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (May, 11, 2023) – LeadingAge PA, an association representing more than 370 aging services providers, today announced the winners of the 50th annual LeadingAge PA Distinguished Service Awards. The awards honor exceptional people who give their time, talents and abundant energy to their communities and demonstrate a deep commitment to serving seniors. 


“For a half century, LeadingAge PA’s Distinguished Service Awards have recognized the work of so many who quietly go about their daily work in service of Pennsylvania seniors,” said LeadingAge PA President and CEO Garry Pezzano. “But to us, they’re heroes who selflessly give of themselves to care for others and lead their mission-driven organizations by example.” 


Here is a complete list of the winners: 


  • Paul P. Haas Lifetime Achievement Award, Susan McCrary, President & CEO, St. Ignatius Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Philadelphia. Under Susan’s leadership and vision, St. Ignatius has expanded its service to the low-income aging populations in the city. Through the pandemic, she provided steady guidance, presence and immeasurable compassion for her team, residents, their families and the community. To ensure safety during the public transportation system shutdown, she creatively found ways to get her team to work, while making sure residents and workers received vital PPE and vaccines. 


  • Leader of the Year: Jackie Donnelly, Director of Nursing, Waverly Heights, Montgomery County. During the statewide staffing crisis, Jackie’s creative recruitment and retention initiatives allowed Waverly Heights to be agency-free and staffed well beyond regulatory requirements. She delicately and expertly balances the responsibilities of ensuring compliance and accountability with maintaining a positive work environment and culture. 


  • Manager of the Year, Michelle Posch, Regional Manager, Staff Development, Phoebe Ministries, Lehigh County. During the COVID-19 pandemic and in the midst of staffing issues, Michelle organized an initiative to creatively train existing employees and recruit potential employees to become temporary nurse aides. Michelle took on the management of Phoebe’s TNA program without hesitation. Currently, she supervises a team that instructs more than 300 nurses, nurse aides and many other front-line employees across four eastern Pennsylvania counties, while also playing a significant role in new employee orientation. 


  • Innovation of the Year, Spirit AliveTM Program, Spiritual Care for Individuals with Dementia, Phoebe Ministries, Lehigh County. The program, led in part by Scott Stevenson, Rev. Dr. Scott Brooks-Cope and Emily Southerton, draws on the real cognitive effects of dementia, pastoral care practices and spiritual direction theory to create an interactive, small-group spirituality experience. It utilizes sensory experiences, creative arts, interpersonal spiritual direction and familiar stories to facilitate expression among individuals with dementia. 


  • Volunteer of the Year, Carol Freese, Moravian Hall Square, Northampton County. Incredibly, Carol has volunteered her time and talents in senior services since high school. In 2008, she moved into Moravian Hall Square and has since given her time and talents as a professional seamstress, baker and servant leader to make a difference in the lives of others. She has organized teams of residents to cut and sew clothing for earthquake victims in Haiti; led projects for fundraising events; and designed, cut and sewed skirts with shawls to help recreate a prom experience for residents living in personal care, memory care and nursing care. 


  • Direct Caregiver of the Year, Jamie Snare, PCA/Med. Tech., Shenango on the Green, Lawrence County. From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamie redoubled her efforts to comfort and support residents by picking up extra shifts to ensure her residents were always receiving the care they deserved. Her compassion and positivity were a shining light through the toughest times. 


  • Licensed Caregiver of the Year, Leonard M. Hoolahan, LPN, Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, Allegheny County. Len ensures residents receive essential medical and physical care, as well as being the person they seek out as a resource, so that they may enjoy the highest quality of life. Residents and their families are touched by his genuine compassion and care for their loved ones. 


  • Staff Member of the Year, Linda Plunkett, Administrative Assistant, Phoebe Allentown Health Care Center, Lehigh County. For a quarter century, Linda has managed numerous projects, notably her leadership of the Allentown Basket Social Committee. The committee has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars that goes directly to programs benefiting seniors of Phoebe Allentown, and Linda has been integral to its success. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda led efforts to create lifesaving equipment during a time of scarce supplies. Her leadership resulted in a volunteer effort to cut and sew thousands of masks and hundreds of gowns for her team members. 


The honorees will be recognized and presented with their awards on stage at LeadingAge PA’s Annual Conference on May 17, 2023 at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions in the Poconos. 


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About LeadingAge PA 

LeadingAge PA is a trade association representing 370+ high-quality senior housing, health care and community services across the Commonwealth. These providers serve more than 75,000 older Pennsylvanians and employ over 50,000 dedicated caregivers on a daily basis. Services our members offer include Life Plan Communities/Continuing Care Retirement Communities, skilled nursing communities, assisted living residences, personal care homes, and affordable senior housing. LeadingAge PA advocates on behalf of our members at the state and local levels to influence positive change and affect a healthy vision for the delivery of quality, affordable and ethical care for Pennsylvania’s seniors. For more information, visit www.LeadingAgePA.org


Media Contact: 

La Torre Communications for LeadingAge PA