woman speaking at podium
Principle LTC President and CEO Lynn Hood delivers her acceptance speech after receiving the 2024 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo by Tori Soper Photography)

CHICAGO — Senior living, skilled nursing and home care representatives celebrated the accomplishments of many during the 2024 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Awards and Forum ceremony Tuesday at the JW Marriott Chicago.

The annual celebration of the long-term care’s best and brightest women up-and-comers and leaders, which launched in 2019 with an awards ceremony and added learning sessions the next year, this year began with two educational sessions on leadership, mentorship and organizational culture, as well as the top concern of every organization: the workforce shortage. Several of this year’s winners, along with a past honoree, participated in the panel discussions, which were moderated by McKnight’s Senior Living Editor Lois A. Bowers and McKnight’s Home Care Editor Liza Berger.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction Forum panels were followed by a cocktail reception and dinner, during which honorees were celebrated and presented with engraved trophies marking their accomplishments.

Fifty of this year’s 59 Hall of Honor, Veteran VIP, Rising Star and Spirit Award winners attended the gala, where peers and family members gathered to network and celebrate those making a difference in the long-term care industry. 

Lynn Hood (pictured), president and CEO of Principle LTC, received the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award. Hood’s work has led her to be labeled a changemaker for long-term care settings for her ability to act under emergency conditions and for being a champion of employees. A degreed nurse, she became a long-term care administrator at age 24 and has served in her current position since 2017. 

Hood dedicated her speech to women and other underserved populations and minorities in the long-term care industry. 

Sharing the story of a gift from her mother — “a necklace with a cracked circle of glass signifying Hood cracking the glass ceiling” — Hood celebrated women older than 50 who helped her break that ceiling, then called on women under 50 to “explode” it.

”Our job as women, since we had to crack that ceiling, is to bring other people up with us,” Hood said, adding that she built her career on people. She called on other leaders to surround themselves with the most talented people, then “get out of their way and watch them work.”

Acknowledging the rough road the industry weathered during and since the COVID-19 pandemic, Hood called on the industry to “be bold” and “tell the world the good work you do.” 

“You must advocate for this industry,” she said. 

Women of Distinction candidates are nominated in four categories:

  • The Hall of Honor recognizes senior-level professionals in the C suite or at a level equivalent to vice president.
  • Veteran VIPs (added in 2021) have more than 15 years of experience and are making an impact in long-term care typically at a level lower than vice president or its equivalent.
  • Rising Stars are candidates aged 40 or fewer years or are of any age but have fewer  than 15 years of experience in the profession. All have quickly demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the industry.
  • Spirit Awards (added in 2022) recognize inspiring service to communities, residents or patients. 

“Congratulations to these extraordinary women,” said John O’Connor, McKnight’s editorial director, vice president and associate publisher. “Their unmatched commitment has made a significant impact on their organizations and especially on those they serve. By their deeds and examples, they truly exemplify what it means to be ‘Women of the Year.’”

To learn more about this year’s honorees, flip through the digital commemorative booklet.

Coverage of the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Forum will be featured in upcoming issues of the McKnight’s Senior Living Daily Briefing e-newsletter and on the McKnight’s Senior Living website.

You can keep up to date with the entire McKnight’s Women of Distinction program and watch for details on next year’s entry period on the website as well. For nomination inspiration, browse lists of previously honored women by year and category.

Healthcare Services Group was the Platinum sponsor of this year’s event. PointClickCare was the Gold sponsor, and PharMerica was the Silver sponsor. Other sponsors included Curana Health, DirecTV for Business, Easyshifts, Hireology, Reliant Rehabilitation, ShiftKey and Sentrics.

Pictured: Principle LTC President and CEO Lynn Hood delivers her acceptance speech after receiving the 2024 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo by Tori Soper Photography)