LeadingAge PA Announces 2022 Distinguished Service Award Winners
MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (June 20, 2022) — LeadingAge PA is excited to announce the 2022 Distinguished Service Award winners. Established in 1973, the Distinguished Service Awards honor the exemplary contributions of individuals and groups from member organizations who are enhancing the aging services field through their involvement, innovation, leadership and advocacy.
This year, the eight Distinguished Achievement Awards went to:
- Paul P. Haas Lifetime Achievement Award: John R. Dickson IV, President and CEO, Redstone Presbyterian SeniorCare
- Leader of the Year: Jeremy O. Neely, Senior Vice President – Community Operations, Acts Retirement-Life Communities Inc.
- Manager of the Year: Kate Conahan Ponto, PT, DPT, Director of Rehabilitation, Lima Estates – Acts Retirement-Life Communities Inc.
- Volunteer of the Year: Shirley Walton, Tel Hai Retirement Community
- Licensed Caregiver of the Year: Lourdes Toro, LPN, Brethren Village
- Direct Caregiver of the Year Award: Janet Bross, Resident Aide, United Zion Retirement Community
- Staff Member of the Year: Roland Maust, Life Systems Administrator, Brethren Village
- Outstanding Business Partner of the Year: LifeAire Systems
Paul P. Haas Lifetime Achievement Award: John R. Dickson IV, President and CEO, Redstone Presbyterian SeniorCare
LeadingAge PA's most prestigious award is presented to a distinguished individual who has demonstrated exemplary leadership, service and commitment to the association and across the state to positively impact and advance the field of aging services. John Dickson is the recipient of this award because of his dedication and leadership to senior care communities. As president and CEO of Redstone Presbyterian SeniorCare, Dickson has made his community into a premier place to not only live but also work and volunteer. Redstone was recognized as a "Best Practices” organization under Dickson's leadership for its innovative employee health insurance plan, and as a Healthiest Employer in Western Pennsylvania. Throughout the pandemic, he guided his team with compassion by creating a new initiative that provides a safe harbor through various programs to address crisis situations such as food insecurity, student loan reimbursement and child care assistance.
Dickson has shown a lifetime of devotion to improving senior care services that reaches beyond his community. He has collaborated with legislators, regulators and municipal governments, making senior care a main priority. He has been an instrumental leader with the Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania and the Faith Based Network. His work on the risk retention program within the Faith Based Network was crucial in helping organizations provide liability coverage at an affordable rate during times of financial crisis. Dickson’s commitment to serving those around him has inspired many to achieve and lead in the SeniorCare community.
Leader of the Year: Jeremy O. Neely, Senior Vice President – Community Operations, Acts Retirement-Life Communities Inc.
This LeadingAge PA award recognizes an individual who demonstrates excellence in management or governance accountability, is proactive in quality of care to residents, and has played a pivotal role in overall operations leading to organizational success. Jeremy Neely is the recipient of the Leader of the Year award for many reasons beyond his work as an accountant. His leadership is built on kindness, wisdom, spirit and, most of all, service. He has modeled all of these characteristics through his work in the Acts Retirement-Life Communities for over two decades, touching the lives of thousands of residents and staff and always treating people in his community as family. Neely always puts the needs of others first, even while pursuing a wide range of career paths. While engaging with his staff and community, he has been a main supporter of Acts Corporate University, serving on various panels and as a faculty member.
Manager of the Year: Kate Conahan Ponto, PT, DPT, Director of Rehabilitation, Lima Estates – Acts Retirement-Life Communities Inc.
This award is presented to an outstanding mentor who has nurtured, coached, counseled and encouraged others to help them develop personally and professionally as an individual and/or as part of a team. This year, LeadingAge PA is proud to announce Kate Ponto, the director of rehabilitation at Acts Retirement-Life Communities, as Manager of the Year. Ponto is a constant source of joy for her residents, staff and community. Building an amazing team, she has improved residents’ rehabilitation success while also increasing revenue. Through her creativity and enthusiasm, Ponto encourages her residents to strive for greater mobility. She has trained five new employees in under a year and serves as a role model and mentor for staff success at Lima Estates. Ponto is known for her patience and contagious enthusiasm, creating a non-judgmental working and living environment for not only residents but staff as well.
Volunteer of the Year: Shirley Walton, Tel Hai Retirement Community
This award recognizes an individual or group that has enhanced the quality of life of seniors through volunteer work for the benefit of the residents, member organizations and greater community. Shirley Walton radiates selflessness and is a great organizer and cheerleader for those in need. Always going above and beyond what is asked or expected in volunteer roles, Walton is irreplaceable in the Tel Hai Retirement Community. As a volunteer of over 60 years, she has not only served the senior community but also aided victims of domestic violence, orphaned children, veterans and more. Walton is the founder of the Sew Creative Group at Tel Hai, which creates handmade items for charity and encourages novice quilters to join and learn with the most experienced sewers in the group. With thousands of hours of volunteer work under her belt, Walton's impact has reached far beyond Tel Hai. She is a consistent reminder to inspire those around you by giving back.
Licensed Caregiver of the Year: Lourdes Toro, LPN, Brethren Village
The Licensed Caregiver of the Year award recognizes a licensed staff member who provides excellent clinical care to their residents, while demonstrating leadership and a commitment to the field of long-term care nursing. Lourdes Toro is the recipient of this award for her constant dedication to helping others. Before her work at Brethren Village, she gained significant care-giving experience, first as a social worker serving students and later as a mental health care worker for young mothers. Back in 2002, after discovering her love for the elderly community, she returned to school to become an LPN. Toro has provided the best quality care to all of her residents at Brethren Village, including medical, physical, emotional and spiritual. Always kind, patient and reliable, she is admired by all of her peers for her positive attitude and work ethic.
Direct Caregiver of the Year: Janet Bross, Resident Aide, United Zion Retirement Community
The Direct Caregiver of the Year recognizes a caregiver who serves as a model of commitment to compassionate care. Janet Bross is well-deserving of this award for her 40-plus years serving the United Zion Retirement Community. Her dedication to aging services is unmatched, at both the Firestone Healthcare Center and Heritage Hills Personal Care where she is a personal care resident aide. She is a beloved and trusted member of the community, making her irreplaceable to those she serves. She takes her challenges head on, always putting her residents needs first to ensure they receive the best care possible. Utilizing both compassion and professionalism, Bross is always a major source of support and comfort for her residents, which was especially evident during the pandemic. She is truly a ray of light in the toughest of times.
Staff Member of the Year: Roland Maust, Life Systems Administrator, Brethren Village
This Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual who has exhibited excellence within their role and enhanced a member organization through exceptional service to staff, residents and families. Roland Maust is the recipient of this award for his service in Brethren Village's technology department since 1990. In the past 32 years, Maust has been an integral part to Brethren Village’s growth, keeping up with advancing technology as the organization nearly doubled in size. His recent work includes improving campus security by enhancing the door access system and implementing an automated COVID-19 symptom-screening process for team members. Humble and hard-working, his caring nature makes him a model within his community.
Outstanding Business Partner of the Year: LifeAire Systems
The Outstanding Business Partner of the Year recognizes a business partner that delivers valuable service and significant impact to the mission of our provider members. This new award is presented to LifeAire Systems for their forward-thinking partnership with Phoebe Allentown. Phoebe Allentown installed LifeAire's medical-grade air purification system, becoming the first long-term care community to do so. This in-duct system removes all airborne chemicals and biological pathogens to prevent the spread of airborne infection. LifeAire's game-changing system has provided tremendous results for Phoebe residents and staff, who've experienced remarkable improvements in their health, including lower rates of infection and secondary effects.
Thank you to our DSA sponsor!
About LeadingAge PA
LeadingAge PA is a trade association representing more than 370 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 about LeadingAge PA and our envisioned future of senior services, visit www.LeadingAgePA.org.
La Torre Communications for LeadingAge PA
David La Torre