Editor’s Note: The McKnight’s Senior Living Daily Briefing and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Daily 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.

Kathryn Roberts
Kathryn Roberts

Kathryn Roberts is committed to creating a more age-friendly world. 

She became the president and CEO of Ecumen, a non-profit provider of senior housing and aging services based in Minnesota, in 2003. Under her leadership, Ecumen has developed an innovative program in dementia care, expanded housing options in new markets and has shaped a workplace environment that has been named 10 times as one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal. 

Prior to her work at Ecumen, Roberts was the director of the management analysis division of the state Department of Administration and was acting commissioner of human rights. She led the transformation of the Minnesota Zoo to expand revenue and increase attendance. She also served as chairwoman of Minnesota’s Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, where she led efforts to sue Major League Baseball and successfully stop contraction of the Minnesota Twins.

In 2016, Roberts became the chair of the national Board of Directors for LeadingAge and the next year was named one of the Top 50 “Influencers in Aging” by Next Avenue. She was recognized by the University of Minnesota’s College of Education, where she received her Ph.D., as one of its “100 Distinguished Alumni.” She also was named as one of the Twin Cities’ “Best Brains” by Minneapolis / St. Paul Magazine in 2008.

As a chair member for LeadingAge, she worked on the organization’s Long-Term Services and Supports task force to create nonpartisan solutions addressing the impending crisis in funding for long-term care. Internationally, she is involved with World Health Organization’s Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. Locally, she has worked with the city of Apple Valley on initiatives to create a more age-friendly city.

Roberts also has served as president of the Board of Directors of VocalEssence, where she has worked to bring choral music and other forms of artistic expression to older adults in ways that encourage self-expression.

In February, she became CEO emeritus of Ecumen. She made the decision to step away from day-to-day leadership and work part-time at the organization, leading philanthropy efforts as she supports the CEO transition.

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.