Recognizing women in leadership this International Women’s Day

March 8th 2020, Our News

This International Women’s Day, Illuminate HC is proud to recognize some of the hard-working, determined women in leadership roles, whose contributions are invaluable to SKLD facilities. 

Although in nearly every industry women have made significant strides in achieving gender equality, society still has a long way to go. This is true even in the field of healthcare, where women traditionally have worked. 

Following are highlights and wisdom from the careers of just a few of the outstanding women in leadership positions at Illuminate HC. They all bring individual talents and leadership styles to their jobs each day. They share a passion for supporting and caring for others – whether that’s employees they lead and supervise or patients in their care. Each of them embodies the values of Illuminate HC – focusing on the Human Capital that is key to our success.  

Caroline Kakembo, Regional Nurse Consultant in Michigan

Caroline’s road to nursing began as a childhood dream, although she was a world away from Brighton, Michigan where she now works. She experienced three civil wars growing up in Uganda, and at seven years old she told her father she wanted to be a policeman or a physician. “I wanted to be a policeman to fight injustice, and if not a policeman, to be a physician to support those who were suffering in the war.” 

In her nursing leadership role today she says, “I get to investigate as a leader to get to the root cause of what has caused any injustice, and as nurse I get to be a clinician to help those who may be stigmatized in our communities.” 

Caroline has worked as a nurse in nursing homes since 1989, in every role from being a nursing assistant, LPN, RN, BSN, MSN, an assistant director of nursing, director of nursing and an administrator. Throughout all of her roles she says her attitude is that “Someone must serve our geriatric population, and it might as well be me. As Florence Nightingale says, ‘It’s a calling.’”

When it comes to working with residents, bringing them joy is what Caroline appreciates most. “I love it when a resident authentically laughs and knows you are in their world.” 

Caroline also finds encouragement from a culture of teamwork. “It’s a great joy when we understand each other and our purpose to provide excellent customer service.”

Caroline pictured with her team for a get together at her home when she was director of nursing.

But, of course, not every day is easy, says Caroline. “Leadership is hard.” In times where she has to work with a difficult situation, she says, “I must see beyond the barriers of the present and envision the future because all things go in a cycle.”

Key to doing this work well, says Caroline, is being intentionally kind in each interaction. She also strives to be fully present, self aware, give more than she takes and show up consistently, even when she may not feel like it.

Self care is also crucial to this job. Caroline takes time out for herself where she disconnects from technology and focuses on staying spiritually connected. She also focuses on exercising, like yoga or Zumba.

When asked about a time that she felt like she changed a life or impacted someone at work, Caroline says the opposite is true. “I have not changed lives, they have changed mine. The residents and leaders I work with change me every day, and I am consistently learning to be become a better version of me.”

Her advice for other women who want a future in leadership? “Stay humble and listen.”

Jenny Crosman, RN Regional Director of Business Development in Ohio

Jenny Crosman has a seasoned career in skilled nursing leadership, as well as extensive experience as a nurse. Since the young age of six, Jenny knew she would become a nurse, after being inspired by the care a nurse provided her.


Jenny at right

Now as regional director of business development, Jenny’s day-to-day responsibilities include working with the admissions teams to manage residents, handling insurance issues and supporting the SKLD liaisons at hospitals. On any given day, she stays busy guiding her teams, working directly with patients and families, taking care of administrative tasks and traveling between the six SKLD facilities in Ohio.

Jenny has been in her position for eight years and says, “I love to see the buildings succeed. When new employees are hired with little experience, getting to watch them climb up the ladder within the company is awesome.” 

Her years as a nurse help tremendously as Jenny supports her staff and patients. She has years of experience with bedside care, and she understands the needs of the staff. 

Jenny says there are so many meaningful aspects of this work. “For a lot of residents, their family may be gone already, and their only family is the one they have with SKLD. We step in to do things they wouldn’t be able to on their own.”

Some residents are rehabilitated so they can return home, while others stay long term. Jenny says, “Whichever path the resident goes down, to know that we are there to help with the process is a beautiful experience.”

Jenny’s been fortunate to connect with many strong female leaders over the years. “There are so many people I directly worked with or worked for, who I consider role models along this journey. They’ve influenced me in ways that they didn’t realize. I attribute a lot of my success to those women along the way.” 

As a leader, Jenny hopes that she can empower women who work under her. She focuses on expressing gratitude by making sure employees know that they are appreciated and that she sees how hard they are working.

Her advice for women who want a future in leadership? “Never sell yourself short. I started as a nurse aide and not as the regional director of business development. Don’t settle! I may have detoured along the way, but I never wavered in my dream to become a nurse.” 

Katie Modelski, Director of Case Management and Contracting in Michigan

In a job that relies so heavily on teamwork and caring for others, Katie Modelski says that one of the most important traits for

Katie, pictured last year when she won the Teammate of the Year award

the field of skilled nursing is compassion. At SKLD, she says, it’s not unusual for co-workers to cover for one other and support each other. “We are always working as a team and value that we have life outside of work.”

The nature of skilled nursing work can mean long and demanding hours, and when Katie was starting out, she recounts that she had a boss that said, “I heard you’ve been burning the candle from both ends. The next night you are working late, dinner is on us.” This gesture helped shape Katie’s attitude as a leader who truly cares about the staff and recognizes their value.

One challenge of her job is keeping employees motivated and getting buy-in on the challenging aspects of the work. “It’s important to be a cheerleader for your team to encourage them.” Despite the challenges, her work is so incredibly meaningful knowing that while she focuses on the clerical and behind-the-scenes task, the staff can more efficiently and effectively care for patients. 

Katie is extremely goal-oriented and is constantly striving to grow through continuing education. She believes that “you should always be in the know and be ahead of the game.”

Katie offers the following keys to empowerment and growth:

Misty Archibald, SKLD Livonia Administrator

Misty Archibald has a genuine passion for taking care of others, which began in her childhood when her grandfather was ill. She remembers visiting him after school while her mom worked and watching Western movies together. When he became ill, she helped her mother care for him until he passed away. This experience made a powerful impression on her. “Caring for the elderly is not an easy job, but it’s rewarding in the sense of being needed and knowing you are making a difference in the life of someone else.” 

She has worked in a number of different positions, including nurse aide, accounts payable clerk, and director of human resources. Today as SKLD Livonia’s administrator, Misty says she especially appreciates “being a part of patient outcomes and their healing journey. I also appreciate working alongside a wonderful group of people who are just as passionate about patient care as I am.” 

No two days at SKLD are the same, and challenges arise every day. Misty prefers to think of challenges as opportunities. This allows her to “address concerns quickly, communicate with the residents and their families and ask for forgiveness when we fall short of perfection.” Challenges are opportunities for both her and her team to improve.

Sometimes the most challenging cases turn out to be the most rewarding. Recently, she says, a resident came to the facility for short term care. When Misty met with him upon arrival, he barely spoke to her. “He would have rather been anywhere but in a skilled nursing center.” 

Misty saw this as a reason to visit him daily, even several times a day until he was discharged home. During the time that he was at SKLD Livonia, Misty was able to get him to open up. She learned how in the blink of an eye his whole life had changed. “He was having a difficult time adjusting to his new reality.” Misty assured him he was in good hands, and on the day he was discharged, he gave her a big hug. 

When it comes to being successful in skilled nursing, Misty says, “You should surround yourself with people who are positive, encouraging and supportive.” 

Misty does just that for those around her.