photos from the 2023 McKnight's Women of Distinction Awards and Forum
Upper left: Honorees strike a pose after sharing “Traits of a successful long-term care leader” in one of the sessions of the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Forum, which preceded the awards dinner and ceremony. Upper right: Brightview Senior Living Co-Chair Marilynn Duker speaks to the crowd as she accepts the 2023 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award. Lower left: Sharell Shippen, director of spirituality for HumanGood, enjoys the cocktail reception with other guests. Middle, bottom row: Cindy Longfellow, Juniper Communities’ vice president of business development, sales and marketing, accepts her Hall of Honor award. Lower right: Past and present Lifetime Achievement Award winners share “A lifetime of lessons from the C-suite” during the Forum.

More than 300 aging services professionals and supporters gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of 60 honorees working in the areas of senior living, skilled nursing, home care and hospice May 22 during the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Awards and Forum at the JW Marriott Chicago.

In addition to a Lifetime Achievement Award, which was bestowed on Marilynn Duker, co-chair of Baltimore-based Brightview Senior Living, awards were given to 21 Hall of Honor inductees, 16 Veteran VIPs, 16 Rising Stars and six Spirit Award winners at a gala dinner that was preceded by a cocktail reception.

Duker told those gathered for the awards ceremony that her career has “wildly exceeded my expectations.” “I would never think you … take a job when you’re 26 years old and that you can end up the same place 40 years later in a completely transformed organization. …I couldn’t feel better about what we have all accomplished,” she said.

Everyone in the room is “incredibly fortunate to have a career that can be incredibly fulfilling while doing something really good for people at a very vulnerable time in their lives,” Duker said. “I’ve found the greatest personal satisfaction from having the incredible opportunity to work with so many amazing people. I’ve learned so much … from many of you, both in Brightview and throughout the industry, and know we are better as a whole because we’re all in this together.”

The festivities also featured two afternoon educational sessions that showcased insights from women honored this year and in previous years.

One panel, “Traits of a successful long-term care leader,” was moderated by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Senior Editor Kimberly Marselas and highlighted six 2023 inductees: Help at Home Market Leader Katie Gallenstein, WelbeHealth Director of Strategy and Special Projects Sophia Guel-Valenzuela, Clement Manor Campus Administrator Carly Loewus, Elara Caring Skilled Home Health President Kimberly Nystrom, Sanford Hospice Administrator Desirae Toomey and Help at Home Chicago Director of Operations Rose Trevino.

The other session, “A lifetime of lessons from the C-suite,” was moderated by McKnight’s Senior Living Editor Lois A. Bowers and featured three Lifetime Achievement Award winners: Duker; 2019 honoree Lynne Katzmann, founder and CEO of Bloomfield, NJ-based Juniper Communities; and 2020 inductee Wendy Simpson, chairman and CEO of Westlake Village, CA-based real estate investment trust LTC Properties.

2023 marked the fifth year of the McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards, which have grown from the inaugural year to include additional categories of recognition as well as the educational component. This year’s celebration was the third in-person Women of Distinction event, with two years of festivities having been held virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

See the names of honorees from this year and previous years here, and see additional coverage of this year’s event here.

PointClickCare was the Diamond sponsor of this year’s program. PharMerica was the Silver sponsor. Additional sponsors included American HealthTech, Healthcare Services Group, Omnicare, Sentrics and ShiftKey.

The nomination process for the 2024 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Awards will open later this year. Details will be posted at and on the McKnight’s websites.