Andrea Leebron-Clay
Andrea Leebron-Clay

Editor’s Note: The McKnight’s Senior Living Daily Briefing and McKnight’s Long-Term Care NewsDaily Update e-newsletters are profiling each of the McKnight’s 2019 Women of Distinction in July. For more coverage, visit the McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News websites and read the August print edition of McKnight’s Senior Living and July print edition of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

Andrea Leebron-Clay
Andrea Leebron-Clay

One of the core tenets of Andrea “Andy” Leebron-Clay’s career in long-term care has been understanding what she says is a “commonsense thing.”

“People don’t want to be in nursing homes. So I said to my staff, ‘let’s see what it would take to get these people out,” she said recently.

Leebron-Clay, 71, founded Nightingale Healthcare in 2014 after taking a break, learning how to make documentaries, and philanthropy that includes founding a secondary school in Kenya. But she was drawn to returning to work because of being “an idealist.”

“I’ve always believed that nursing homes don’t have to be considered the way that they are,” she said.

Her mother having died when she was 12, she said her inspiration and first mentor was her grandmother.

“I lost my mother early on, but Granny had secret aspirations of being a nurse,” explained Leebron-Clay, whose father was a physician.

Andrea Leebron-Clay receiving Hall of Honor award
Andrea Leebron-Clay, left, receives her award
from Elizabeth Newman of McKnights Long-Term Care News
at a May 16 ceremony. Photo: Social Snacks.

Today, Nightingale operates six communities throughout the state of Washington, including Mt. Baker Care Center and Summit Place Assisted Living in Bellingham, Arlington Health & Rehabilitation in Arlington, View Ridge Care Center in Everett, Puyallup Nursing in Puyallup, and Sunnyside Assisted Living in Sunnyside.

In addition to her successful career and philanthropic interests, which includes fostering animals for the Humane Society, Leebron-Clay has pursued education that includes graduating from clown school, completing her Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry, and most recently, becoming a volunteer firefighter.

Married to Jim Clay, her children include Pete Wolkin, Nightingale’s chief operating officer. His mother was a “big driving force” in his choice of career, he said.

“She allowed us to be very independent,” Wolkin said. “She raised four boys on her own while going to nursing school and then becoming a nurse manager, and then an owner. She’s always been a very good role model, and also a good friend.” 

McKnight’s Women of Distinction is a joint program of McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program’s exclusive Platinum sponsor is PointClickCare.