The first class of Rising Stars in the McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards program has been revealed, and honorees include women who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to senior housing and care at the community or corporate level, or via academic or association work, from across the United States and Canada.

“For those worried about the future of the industry, the Rising Stars nominations demonstrate how much incredible talent lies in the next generation,” said John O’Connor, vice president, associate publisher and editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. “The nominations reflected women who are ‘full-steam ahead’ in their ideas and enthusiasm for making the lives of seniors better.”

The Women of Distinction Rising Stars category honors women aged fewer than 40 years as well as those who have less than 15 years of experience in the senior living or post-acute care fields.

The awards program also has a Hall of Honor category, which recognizes women who are at a level equivalent to vice president or higher and who have made a significant impact on their organization or the industry. Hall of Honor award recipients will be announced Thursday, followed by the announcement of the Lifetime Achievement Award honoree later this month.

The awards program received several hundred nominations for Rising Stars and Hall of Honor inductees, making the selection process by a national, independent panel of judges extremely competitive.

All of this year’s honorees will be feted at an evening event May 16 in Chicago. PointClickCare is the program’s exclusive platinum sponsor this year.

To learn more, visit this page for ticket and other information. Winners will be contacted with additional details. Those with questions about the event should contact Bianca Andia at bianca.andia@haymarketmedia.com.

Rising Stars Class of 2019

Sarah Belmont, Senior Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis, Brookdale Senior Living, Brentwood, TN

Vanessa Brookes, Director of Quality, Friendly Senior Living,Rochester, NY

Jennifer Cisneros, Nursing home administrator, The Williamsport Home, Williamsport, PA

Kristy Ruppe Craddock, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Commonwealth Senior Living, Charlottesville, VA

Kari Dick, Executive Director, Touchmark, Fargo, ND

Erin Donaldson, Vice President, Director of Operations Management, Life Care Services, St. Charles, IL

Debora Erksa, Director of Life Enrichment & Cultural Arts, Ohio Living Breckenridge Village, Willoughby, OH

Felichia Fields, Assistant Executive Director, St. Catherine’s Village, Madison, MS

Scarlet Star Gardner, Director of Admissions and Marketing, Willow Ridge Rehabilitation, Rutherfordton, NC

Jessica Garvin, Administrator, Gregston’s Nursing & Rehab and West Wind Assisted Living, Marlow, OK

Bre Grubbs, Partner and Senior Vice President of New Business, Leisure Care, Seattle

Katie Jayne, Director of Community Life Services, Bishop Gadsden, Charleston, SC

Natalie Law, Social Services Director, Life Care Center of Stonegate, Life Care Centers of America, Parker, CO

Meg (Margaret) Lutze, Chief Operations Officer, Good Shepherd Community Care, Newton, MA

Tabassum Majid, Ph.D., Executive Director, Integrace Institute, Eldersburg, MD

Jennifer Maina, Director of Nursing, Larksfield Place, Wichita, KS

Rachel Monger,Vice President of Government Relations, LeadingAge Kansas, Topeka, KS

Rebecca Scott Rawn, National Director Communications and Strategic Partnerships, Extendicare, Markham, Ontario

Berenice Galvez Soto, Quality Assurance Compliance Coordinator, HealthPro Heritage, Broadview, IL

Christine Ulbricht, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA

Shamim Wu, Chief Operating Officer, Eclipse Senior Living, Villa Park, CA