man speaking at podium
AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson delivers remarks after accepting the McKnight’s Pinnacle Awards Career Achievement Award. (Photo by Tori Soper)
man speaking at podium
AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson delivers remarks after accepting the McKnight’s Pinnacle Awards Career Achievement Award. (Photo by Tori Soper)

CHICAGO — A sold-out crowd celebrated the second class of McKnight’s Pinnacle Awards winners Thursday night at an event that combined networking with appreciation for some of the aging services sector’s most-dedicated professionals.

Awards went to a “who’s who” of longtime leaders in senior living, skilled nursing and home care. In all, 30 people were recognized for their roles as change-makers, their influence on industry standards and their ability to inspire others in the field.

“You are truly outstanding, and we thank you for being the great examples and role models that you’ve been — for decades. And while we look up to you with admiration and thanks, we also stand on your shoulders, better prepared to face our own tasks and better energized to make every tomorrow a better day,” emcee and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Executive Editor Jim Berklan said in an opening toast.

This year’s Career Achievement Award went to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living. After 13 years at the helm of the nation’s largest nursing home advocacy organization, Parkinson in February announced he will retire early next year.

Accompanying him at the Pinnacle Awards were fellow 2024 honoree and AHCA/NCAL Senior Vice President of Government Relations Clif Porter and several staff members who made the trip from Washington, DC. Parkinson was introduced by his wife, Stacy, an attorney who co-owned several long-term care facilities with him before he became governor of Kansas.

She introduced her husband by recounting what he called the best compliment ever given him: A resident’s family member had seen him gardening, washing dishes and visiting with residents at a facility they owned and asked how he could contact the owner to nominate him for employee-of-the-month recognition.

“He was so excited to come home that night and share that story with us,” Stacy Parkinson said. “He was so proud that someone thought he was a worker worthy of being employee of the month.”

Parkinson, who was one of 27 honorees in attendance, championed the efforts of the workers around him, including frontline staff, in his acceptance speech.

Both in his long-term care career and as a highly influential DC lobbyist, Parkinson said he has relied on the teams around him.

“The greatest honor that I’ve had is being one of you, as a provider, and then the opportunity to represent you in DC and fighting on behalf of the caregivers who are providing great care every day,” he told those in attendance.

In addition to the Career Achievement Award, honorees were recognized in seven other award categories recognizing their contributions to the sector. Those were:

  • Agent of Change Awards
  • Industry Ally
  • Inspiration Awards
  • Setting the Standard 
  • Thought Leader Awards
  • Unsung Hero Awards
  • Business Partner Awards

All nominees were industry veterans with at least 20 years of experience in their chosen field. Winners were selected by a national judging panel. Each of the 2024 honorees was highlighted in a commemorative digital book from the event and in an online photo gallery.

The McKnight’s Pinnacle Awards program is a joint effort of McKnight’s Senior Living and sister media brands McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Home Care. 

Nominations for 2025 will open this fall. Keep up to date on the program and learn more about the process on the McKnight’s Senior Living website.

Omnicare was the Silver sponsor for the 2024 Pinnacle Awards program. Parker Health Group and Sentrics were event sponsors.

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