LeadingAge Pa Honors Trailblazers in Pennsylvania Senior Care Communities

May 9, 2024

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (May 9, 2024) – LeadingAge PA, an association representing more than 400 aging services providers, announces the recipients of its 2024 Distinguished Service Awards. These awards are presented to individuals in the association's member communities who demonstrate exceptional dedication, compassion, and leadership in serving seniors within their communities.

“The dedication, compassion, and leadership of this year’s recipients embodies the highest ideals of care and service, enriching the lives of countless individuals within their communities,” said LeadingAge PA President and CEO Garry Pezzano. “LeadingAge PA remains resolute in its commitment to championing and honoring the outstanding contributions of those who tirelessly serve older adults throughout Pennsylvania.”

Here is a complete list of the winners:

Paul P. Haas Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Carol McKinley, President and CEO, Simpson Senior Services, Bala-Cynwyd, Montgomery County. Dr. McKinley's career has been marked by a profound dedication to enhancing the quality of life for seniors and treating and respecting them as the adults they are. She has held numerous leadership roles within health and long-term care, pioneering initiatives such as person-directed programming and dementia care. Dr. McKinley's advocacy extends beyond organizational boundaries, championing the cause of seniors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.


Leader of the Year: Celeste Golonski, Senior Vice President of Strategy, Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, Oakmont, Allegheny County. Celeste Golonski has emerged as a transformative leader in long-term care. Her leadership has driven initiatives to expand dementia care training and establish medical clinics within affordable senior housing communities. Celeste's coaching and mentorship have paved the way for emerging leaders, fostering a culture of excellence within her organization.


Manager of the Year, Thomas Lee III, Director of Facilities, Simpson Meadows, Downingtown, Chester County. Thomas Lee is committed to excellence in his role as he ensures that his entire team maintains the highest standards of cleanliness, safety, and operational efficiency. He is known for making himself available even during off hours, providing comprehensive introductory tours, and ensuring that everyone is well-prepared to thrive in their roles.

Innovation of the Year, Project Barnabas, Presbyterian Senior Care Network's Dementia 360 and Flourishing Communities, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County. Project Barnabas, developed by Presbyterian Senior Care Network's Dementia 360 and Flourishing Communities, provides vital resources and support to caregivers while challenging stigmas associated with dementia. Central to the program’s success are the elements of building relationships with African American community leaders, facilitating open discussions, and maintaining ongoing engagement through caregiver companions.


Volunteer of the Year, Sarah West, Cathedral Village, Presbyterian Senior Living, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County. Sarah's tireless dedication to enhancing the lives of her fellow residents through volunteerism and community engagement embodies the spirit of service and compassion. Arriving in 2004, she is the founding member of Presbyterian Senior Living’s Thrive Wellness Culture, a program aimed at meeting the needs of community residents based on their input. She also serves as chairperson of the environmental stewardship committee and recorder consort. She generously provides classes to residents in personal care and skilled nursing, offers free notary services, plans memorable holiday events, and supports a book club.


Direct Caregiver of the Year, Charles Hildenbrandt, Certified Nursing Assistant, Morningstar Living, Nazareth, Northampton County. Charles provides direct care to long-term residents and short-term rehabilitation patients. He is dedicated to ensuring that those under his care feel valued, respected, and cherished. Charles serves on the community’s Safety Committee and as a mentor to his colleagues. During his time with the community, he has earned numerous accolades, including Employee of the Month, Employee of the Year, the Customer Service Award, and the Nursing Caregiver Award.

Licensed Caregiver of the Year, Kathleen Quinn Kagel, Assistant Director of Nursing, Holy Family Home, Little Sisters of the Poor, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County. Kathleen is known for her steady focus on quality, and her approach is marked by thoughtfulness and meticulous attention to detail. Kathleen possesses a unique ability to anticipate needs and navigate various situations with patience and foresight, leading her facility to ensure that she and those around her are always ready to handle challenges that arise.


Staff Member of the Year, Lori Stager, Cook, Lebanon Valley Home, UCC Homes, Annville, Lebanon County. Stager has dedicated 28 years to perfecting her culinary craft in the kitchen at Lebanon Valley Home. Known for upholding the highest standards, Lori ensures that meals and service are consistently delivered with excellence and efficiency and that the residents’ requests are heard and honored. As a mentor, Lori has trained countless cooks and diet aides, teaching the standards of safety, sanitation, and quality food production to new team members.

The LeadingAge PA Distinguished Service Awards were presented on May 8, 2024, at the association’s annual conference held at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions in Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania.

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About LeadingAge PA

LeadingAge PA is a trade association representing 400+ 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, LIFE providers, home and community-based services 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:
Toshiko Bolton Nelson
Communications Manager, LeadingAge PA