Twenty-two women will be inducted into the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Hall of Honor as part of the second annual class.

The Hall of Honor recognizes executive-level women who have made significant contributions to the senior living and skilled nursing fields.

“The dedication and commitment shown by our Hall of Honor recipients truly sets them apart,” said John O’Connor, vice president, associate publisher and editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. The Women of Distinction program is a joint offering of both media brands.

The Women of Distinction program’s Hall of Honor and Rising Stars award recipients were chosen by a national, independent panel of judges. The 2020 class of Rising Stars was announced Wednesday. The Lifetime Achievement Award honoree will be announced later this month.

All of this year’s honorees will be feted at a May 7 dinner in Chicago, which will be followed the next day by the Women of Distinction Forum, a morning of continuing education sessions. Both events are open to everyone.

PointClickCare is the Diamond sponsor of this year’s event, and OnShift and PharMerica are Silver sponsors.

To learn more, visit for ticket and other information. Winners will be contacted with additional details. Those with questions about the event should contact Adele Durham at [email protected].

Hall of Honor Class of 2020

Eleanor Alvarez, President and CEO, The Ganzhorn Suites and LeaderStat, Powell, OH

Lucinda “Cindy” Baier, President, CEO and Director, Brookdale Senior Living, Brentwood, TN

Samira Beckwith, President and CEO, Hope Healthcare, Ft. Myers, FL

Maribeth Bersani, Chief Operating Officer, Argentum, Washington, D.C.

Akia Blandon, Vice President, Clinical Services, Plaza Rehab and Nursing Center, Bronx, NY

Joanne Braeunle, Vice President, Corporate Strategy, St. John’s, Rochester, NY

Carole Burnell, Vice President of Operations, Capital Senior Living, Dallas

Vassar Byrd, CEO, Rose Villa, Portland, OR

Mary “Molly” Forrest, CEO – President, LA Jewish Home, Reseda, CA

Carol Hulgan, Senior Vice President of Clinical Services, Life Care Centers of America, Cleveland, TN

Mary Knapp, Director of Health Services, Foulkeways at Gwynedd, Gwynedd, PA

Rita Mabli, President and CEO, United Hebrew of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, NY. 

Beth Burnham Mace, chief economist, National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, Washington, D.C.

Deborah Meade, Chair, American Health Care Association Board of Governors; CEO and president, Health Management, Warner Robins, GA

Cynthia Morton, Executive Vice President, National Association for the Support of Long Term Care, Washington, D.C.

Wendy Nowokunski, President and co-founder, Northbridge Companies, Burlington, MA

Connie Ortega, Vice President of Operations for Legacy West, Legacy Healthcare, Portland, OR 

Katherine “Katie” Potter, president and CEO, Five Star Senior Living, Boston

JoAnne Reifsnyder, Executive Vice President, Clinical Operations, and Chief Nursing Officer, Genesis HealthCare, Kennett Square, PA

Tammy Retalic, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston

Mary Alice Ryan, President and CEO, St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System, St. Louis

Kimberly Townsend, President and CEO, Loretto, Syracuse, NY

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