Movers & Shakers — People and Positions for October, Part I

Lifespace Communities CCRC Hires New Executive Chef

Urbandale, Iowa-based Deerfield, a Lifespace Communities CCRC, has welcomed Justin Comer as its new executive chef. 

Comer brings to the position more than 20 years of culinary experience, serving in top roles at several area restaurants. He has worked as an executive chef at Centro and as the chef at Basils Restaurant and Bistro 43 in the Des Moines area. 


Comer was a banquet cook at the Des Moines Golf & Country Club and, most recently, served as executive chef and kitchen supervisor for Sodexo. 

“Chef Justin has extensive knowledge of the kitchen and has had success in a variety of dining venues including fine dining, casual dining and catering,” said Roger Fanska, director of dining services at Deerfield. “With his passion for food and a great tie to the Des Moines area, we look forward to having Justin join our culinary team.”

Essex Communities Welcomes New Property Manager


Essex Communities — an Omaha, Nebraska-based developer and operator of senior living communities —  has announced the hiring of Valerie Fouty as property manager of The Homestead at Morton Grove.

The Homestead at Morton Grove is a 2-year-old independent living community located in the greater Chicago metropolitan area suburb of Morton Grove. 

Fouty joins Essex Communities with more than 10 years of senior housing experience in the Chicagoland market. Previously Fouty worked in leadership positions with Mather LifeWays and Capital Senior Living.

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The Goodman Group Announces Hiring of Transitional Care Director

The Goodman Group, a developer and manager of senior living and health care communities, recently announced the appointment of Alexandra Berg as director of transitional care for Able Care Connect, which focuses on providing Transitional Care Management (TCM) clinical service. 

Berg will work with older adults as they transition across health care settings to maintain communication, oversee medication management, improve understanding of health care plans and assist with community referrals when needed. 

She will be based at the 95-acre, intergenerational Palms of Largo senior living and health care community, developed and managed by The Goodman Group. 

TCM was developed by Medicare to improve the continuum of care for older adults who need additional assistance after a hospital discharge and helps prevent the potential risk for hospital readmissions. It is a reimbursed service approved by Medicare, and accepted by many other large insurance carriers for qualified participants.

Equinox Village Hires Director of Sales

Vermont-based Equinox Village, an independent and supportive living community, has recently hired Kelley McCarthy as its new director of sales. 

McCarthy is a real estate agent with Hoisington Realty in Bennington and will continue her work for Hoisington while taking on this sales role at Equinox Village. 

“Equinox Village is always interested in the most dedicated and experienced professionals,” said Equinox Village CEO Kirt Sampson. “Kelley’s success in real estate makes her the perfect person to introduce new residents to Equinox Village’s house-sized retirement apartments.”

Julie Fenske Named Chairman of Alzheimer’s Association Board

Julie Fenske was recently named chairman of the Board for the Alzheimer’s Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter. 

In her role, Fenske — who is currently the executive director at The Buckingham, a Masterpiece Living community in Houston — will be the principal officer of the chapter and will preside at all Board of Directors meetings.

She has more than 20 years of experience serving seniors across the country. 

Commonwealth Assisted Living Expands Dining Services Team

Commonwealth Assisted Living, LLC, which has 20 communities throughout Virginia, has expanded its management team to increase its focus on providing a high-quality dining experience for residents. 

Bob Raymond has joined Commonwealth as its new vice president of Dining Services. Raymond has been involved in the management of dining services for more than 20 years, holding positions of area director, regional director and vice president of dining services in both the senior housing and business industries. 

He will use his knowledge to envision the style and processes for making Dining Services a signature program for Commonwealth and a point of differentiation in the markets it serves. 

Lara Irwin has joined Commonwealth as its new regional director of Dining Services. Irwin has worked in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years, with experience ranging from executive chef/owner of a catering business and general manager of various restaurants to service manager of a local luxury inn. 

Irwin will utilize her culinary and food service knowledge to enhance the overall dining experience for residents, and develop and implement systems in Commonwealth communities.

“While dining service has always been a focus of ours, we believe that we have an opportunity to raise the bar substantially and assure that we are providing a dining experience for our residents at every meal,” said Earl Parker, COO at Commonwealth. 

Insurance Broker Appoints VP and Client Advocate of Senior Living Division

Willis North America, a unit of Willis Group Holdings — the global risk adviser, insurance and reinsurance broker — recently announced the appointment of Mary Davis as vice president and client advocate of Wills’ National Senior Living Practice.

The division features more than 40 insurance and risk professionals focused exclusively on the risk management, human capital and property/casualty insurance needs of the senior living industry. It serves organizations of all sizes and is the exclusive broker and risk adviser for members of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA).

In this new role, Davis will deliver value-added services to Willis clients and be responsible for business development nationwide. She will work to expand Willis’ footprint in the senior living industry and align resources from across the firm’s global platform. 

Prior to joining Willis, Davis served as vice president of Lockton. 

Brooks Adams Research Welcomes New Director of Research

Brooks Adams Research, a full-service advertising, marketing and public relations agency, has hired Lana Peck as director of research. 

With more than 15 years of market research project leadership experience in the senior housing industry, Peck’s expertise lies in qualitative analysis, competitor intelligence and strategic product development.  

Prior to joining Brooks Adams Research, Peck was senior market research analyst for Life Care Services LLC. During her tenure with Life Care Services, she published a series of white papers delving into various aspects of senior living and the senior consumer. Prior to that position, Peck was a market research consultant for Gartner Inc., a technology research and advisory company, where she managed global market research projects. 

Written by Emily Study

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