CEO Fresh Take: How Nonprofits Should Use Their Competitive Advantages

Luther Manor President and CEO Stephanie Chedid is excited.

Since her appointment as head honcho last January, Chedid has seen first-hand the passion her employees and residents share for Luther Manor. The organization is based in in the western Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, and spread across three nearby campuses, offering the full continuum of care to more than 600 residents.

Stephanie Chedid
Stephanie Chedid

As only the third CEO in the organization’s more than 50-year history, however, she recognized an opportunity to take a critical look at operations, finances and leadership, while at the same time ensuring that the Luther Manor of the future is somewhere that employees and volunteers want to be personally invested in. She recently sat down with Senior Housing News to discuss the mixed reaction to renaming CCRCs, and the biggest opportunities and challenges facing the industry. Chedid also hit on how for-profits in some ways are trying to become more like non-profits; it’s a topic in which she has particular insight, having come from the for-profit world herself. Prior to joining Luther Manor, she was president of Clearly Gull Advisors, an investment banking and wealth management advisory firm. Prior to that, she was a senior vice president with Robert W. Baird and Co., a wealth management, capital markets, asset management and private equity firm.


This is the latest installment of CEO Fresh Take, a series of conversations with nonprofit CEOs who are taking the reins as signs point to more urgency around scaling up and competing with a booming for-profit sector.

SHN: What, in your opinion, will be the biggest opportunity for senior housing providers in 2016?

SC: I’ve been thinking a lot about the coming managed care scenarios, as well as bundled payment structures. At Luther Manor, the largest element of our continuing care community is in our skilled nursing. So for us, our most significant opportunities are being as well-aligned with our referring hospitals and with the new model of health care delivery that’s coming, and that’s facing us right now.


This may not be the biggest opportunity for the senior housing industry in general, though. There’s certainly a significant opportunity to capture the coming seniors—folks who are far more active and want to continue to live life in a manner that is not led by a promise of medical care.

SHN: What has been the biggest challenge for Luther Manor, and for the industry, in the last year?

SC: There’s several of them. I think one of the challenges that we face, and we’re tackling this, is positioning ourselves on that health care delivery model. Where do full-continuum organizations like Luther Manor fit in terms of the changing medical and health care model?

Another thing that is incredibly challenging is the shortage of nurses that we’re facing. How do we continue to recruit and retain high-quality talent and high-quality professionals that will help us deliver on the expectations of low re-hospitalization rates?

SHN: Do you think nonprofits are at a competitive disadvantage right now, or have they been in the last few years?

SC: I come from the for-profit space, so I think not-for-profits actually have a phenomenal advantage in a couple of ways. From an employee perspective, the for-profits are racing as fast as they can to become the best places to work, to be holistic in how they help employees feel gratified as a person. They’re trying to encourage philanthropy, a culture of giving and a culture of being community-engaged. Not-for-profits have been doing that forever—it’s the nature of their meaning.

But I think not-for-profits haven’t done a great job of using that as a competitive advantage. They’re not out there saying “we’re the best place to work, we help you live a gratifying, whole-person life.” I think not-for-profits are at an advantage because we don’t have to create some brand new tagline or brand new program to become that, we just have to recognize and celebrate it, and remind people of it.

The other big advantage that I think a not-for-profit has is that we have donors. At Luther Manor, we can invite people into our community who couldn’t maybe otherwise afford to join us, because we want to give them charitable discounts on their rates. We have a foundation, and we have generous donors. That’s a huge advantage in a not-for-profit space. For-profits just don’t have that option.

SHN: What are some of the biggest trends you’re seeing in the senior housing industry right now?

SC: I think there’s a trend in the industry to be as attractive as possible to adult children and the next generation of residents. And I think that’s partly what the Life Plan Community name change is about—how do we break away from some of the connotations of “retirement” and “care” and “medical,” and reinforce the connotations of active, lifestyle and choice?

As for “Life Plan Community”—I’ve heard really mixed reactions from my peers. Luther Manor hasn’t rebranded from CCRC, but I have no reason to believe that we won’t follow that path. There’s no reason that we would necessarily hold onto the CCRC language. We are participating in the webinars about the name change—I’m a big facts and data person. I’m really excited to hear the basis for their decision and understand the research.

Another trend I’m seeing in senior housing and independent housing is that we’re looking at how we can help people go from their home to our community and retain as much choice and flexibility as they possibly can. For instance, how do we go from having dining services at certain times to having it be more of a choice?

The other thing that I see a lot of headlines about, and Luther Manor is talking about it, is preventative care and thinking about wellness in a different way. How can we embrace the idea of preventative rehabilitative services or therapies, how can we embrace keeping people healthy longer to live through our continuum?

Luther Manor
Luther Manor

SHN: Do you have any specific plans for preventative care at Luther Manor?

SC: That’s something that we are absolutely looking at. We are also thinking about how we can make a difference in the way our community of 600 residents, 600 employees and 400 volunteers consumes health care, and part of that is preventative. We have an on-site clinic that we’re looking at perhaps opening up to employees.

This year we also kicked off a wellness committee for our employees. We have a new chief human resource officer who came out of the for-profit space, and she has helped a company become one of the best places to work from an employee perspective, so we’re looking at that.

SHN: What’s in store for Luther Manor in 2016? Any acquisition activity? 

SC: I do not see the acquisition path in our near-term future—but if we find in the near term that there’s acquisition opportunities, we’ll pursue them. For now, our pipeline is empty.

At Luther Manor, since I started in February, we’re doing our own operational analysis and and our own financial analysis. We’re working on systematizing things. There’s been changes in my leadership team, and there will continue to be changes in the leadership team.

I also think that there’s huge opportunity in partnerships with other not-for-profit organizations. There’s a not-for-profit organization west of Milwaukee that offers home health care, and that’s something we’re looking at perhaps partnering in. We’re talking about collaborations in technology, other shared services, and banding together with other organizations that have similar missions.

SHN: What’s at the top of your agenda as a new CEO?

SC: At the top of my agenda is to ensure through a top-notch, high-quality leadership team that we are able to consistently deliver high-quality care in a cost-effective manner, and that we’ve altered our organization to remain nimble and responsive, or even proactive, as the health care model continues to change.

SHN: What’s the most exciting thing Luther Manor has done since you’ve taken the helm?

SC: I think the most exciting thing that’s happened here is that I’ve seen how passionate our employees and our volunteers are for our mission, and I have been able to re-ignite the excitement for the future of Luther Manor. This organization was without a CEO for an extended period of time, and I think there was a lot of uncertainty about the future of the organization. Being able to come in and create an environment where people are excited to work, where they see that Luther Manor of the future is somewhere that they want to be personally invested in—I think that’s the most exciting thing for me.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

Read previous CEO Fresh Take interviews:

Improving the Bottom Line with ‘Gatorade Philosophy’

Why CCRCs Need to Turn Competitors Into Allies

How ACTS Invests Big in Both People, Property

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