Jaybird Senior Living’s 2020 Achievement Awards

Director of the Year

Amy McAtee

Prairie Hills of Tipton

Amy McAtee began her career with Prairie Hills in 2011 when she was hired as a resident assistant working third shift. Through the years, her natural leadership and dedication to the residents she served brought her to the opportunity of becoming the Community’s Director. “Amy is well rounded; a great Director and a great partner to all departments,” shares Bobbie Barclay, RN, Clinical Care Specialist. “We can consistently count on her community to receive high satisfaction scores from both residents, their family members, and employees alike.” During her time as Director, Amy has provided a stable, collaborative presence that has led to tenured team members and a full building of happy residents. The Community has also received several accolades for the environment Amy has fostered. It is a pleasure to work alongside you, Amy!

Cris Sexton

Arcadian Cove

Cris is one of the most compassionate and caring individuals that you will ever meet. She is passionate about finding what motivates the growth or potential inside of someone; always looking for ways to pull out the best in everyone by promoting their worth and insisting they see it as well,” says Melissa Dillon, Community Relations Coordinator for Arcadian Cove. When the pandemic limited public celebrations and norms, Cris didn’t hesitate to plan a virtual graduation ceremony for a member of her culinary team. She couldn’t bear the thought of letting such a milestone pass without recognition and went to extraordinary measures to ensure the ceremony, attendees, refreshments, and fanfare were all top-notch. Cris has a knack for injecting energy and positivity into everyday interactions in the most natural and effortless way. We are proud of you, Cris!

Pamela Wells

Glenwood Place

Pamela Wells, Director of Glenwood Place in Marshalltown, Iowa, has been a prominent leader in the industry for nearly 10 years. Pamela’s dedication to her residents and their families does not go unnoticed. “Her work ethic is unmatched, but that really isn’t what I admire most about her. I admire her passion, her class, her reputation she has built in the world of senior care in Marshalltown, her spirit, her endless knowledge, her compassion, her dedication, her drive to provide the very best, her party planning skills (honestly the lady puts on quite the events!). She is so genuine and loves hard,” beams Brooke Davis, Community Relations Coordinator. Because of Pamela’s vision and example, Glenwood Place is a destination for residents and job seekers alike. You are so deserving of this award, Pamela.

Community Impact Award

Amanda Creen

The Lakeside Village

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an already precarious staffing pipeline to plunge into dangerous waters. Guthrie County, where The Lakeside Village is located, lacked opportunities for area citizens to further their education and gain employment. When she learned of the Future Ready Iowa Earn & Learn and Employer Innovation grants, Amanda Creen, Director, dove headfirst into passionately lobbying for the funds that would present opportunities for local residents. Her efforts paid off and the Community was awarded over $245K to assist with programming, compensation, training accommodations, and educational materials. “Over 200 people have taken CNA classes and all will go on to be advanced CNAs. 50 people have become ServSafe certified and 15 have taken the Iowa assisted living manager course. None of this would have been possible if it would not have been for Amanda working so hard to help others advance in their lives,” shares Marla Hammer, Hospitality Coordinator at The Lakeside Village. We are so proud of you, Amanda!

Nurse of the Year

Sharon Bexell, RN

Milestone Senior Living Faribault

Being a Health Care Coordinator in senior living is a demanding, but highly rewarding job. Throw in a global health crisis that targets seniors and the job becomes even more daunting. Sharon Bexell, Health Care Coordinator at Milestone Senior Living in Faribault, Minn. has demonstrated confidence and brought a sense of calm to the storm around us in 2020. “Sharon truly cares for each and every resident in her care. She spends countless hours making sure they’re receiving the best hospitality and that their needs are met. She truly wants to do things the Jaybird way and takes great pride in doing well by doing good,” says Cassidy Schmidt, RN, Director of Clinical Revenue. Sharon has done an exemplary job maintaining quality care, mitigating COVID-19 risks, motivating staff members, and rising to the call of duty at every turn. We are incredibly grateful for her dedication to her Community and the commitment she has made to be a healthcare hero with a heart for hospitality. Way to go, Sharon!

Innovtion Award

Peter Ulstad

Jaybird Senior Living

When Peter Ulstad began with Jaybird Senior Living just over a year ago, he was tasked with the goal of streamlining processes and create efficiencies, all while providing advanced data and metrics. The tall order, coupled with a growing portfolio and a global pandemic, would prove to be arduous, but attainable for the young professional. Peter started with realigning the finance department, placing existing talent at the forefront of improvement opportunities. Experts were aligned within the corporate structure, while Peter coordinated with industry vendors to improve productivity. Notably, the switch to SAP Concur has easily helped monitor and reduce expenses. “Peter has shown innovation by implementing new systems and policies that make the company better as a whole; reducing time and effort required for recurring tasks,” says Chris Wendle, Jaybird Senior Living Chief of Staff. Thanks for tackling process improvement with enthusiasm, Peter!

Community Team Member of the Year

Subash Arachya

Praire Hills of Des Moines

During his 7 years at Jaybird Senior Living communities, Subash has been a consistent leader in providing quality care all while working towards his degree with the assistance of our Tuition Reimbursement program. Subash started as a Resident Assistant and has moved his way into an Assistant Director position. He played an invaluable role in properly onboarding a new community into the Jaybird portfolio in the midst of a pandemic. Robin Bartalos, Prairie Hills Community Director shares, “Subash is always willing to help in any situation. He is happy to help any of his coworkers and has a positive attitude no matter what. He would do anything to help our community and his residents!” Subash has earned this nomination because he truly has defined what it is to be a team member, he has had a positive impact across multiple Jaybird managed properties. He lives and breathes the ‘Red Carpet Experience’ and we are so very excited to see what goal we can help him reach next!

Community Team Member of the Year

Tim Gallus

Willows Landing

Tim joined our family in October of 2020 as the Maintenance Coordinator for Willows Landing, a brand new senior living community in Monticello, Minn. He was new to the senior living industry, but had a tremendous amount of experience in building maintenance. In this short time, Tim has displayed an uncanny ability to provide leadership in coordinating multiple teams, agencies, and individuals to ensure Willows Landing is ready to provide housing and first-class services to residents. He took initiative to perform his own research into the industry and has shown more than a dedication to his maintenance duties, but a true dedication to understanding how he can make a positive impact on the lives of the residents at Willows Landing. “Tim has a passion for not only providing our residents with a beautiful building, but creating a warm, inviting, and safe atmosphere where people thrive,” shares Nick Merlino, Director of Operational Analytics. Keep it up, Tim!

Jaybird Team Membr of the Year

Lyla Erwin

Jaybird Senior Living

Lyla Erwin has been a dedicated team member for over 13 years. During that time, she has held a multitude of roles as her talents brought her to new responsibilities. Lyla serves as Director for Garnett Place, as well as Senior Portfolio Leader for Jaybird Senior Living. In this dual role, she is able to make firsthand connections at her community while communicating best practices to a greater audience within the portfolio. Her ability to balance both levels has had a profound impact on the overall success of the properties she touches. “Lyla has always stepped in where she is needed and has dedicated her life to caring for seniors as if they were her own relatives,” shares Tanner Erwin, Lyla’s son and Garnett Place Assistant Director. Part of what makes Lyla impactful is her ability to relate to others and apply the tried and true basics of kindness to the business side of our industry. We are proud to call Lyla a valued member of our Jaybird family.

Jaybird Senior Living

Nick Merlino

Jaybird Senior Living

Nick Merlino began his career with Jaybird Senior Living in November of 2015 as a Staff Accountant. Two years later, Nick became Accounting Controller before being named Director of Operational Analytics in 2020. “Nick is always willing to jump in and help where needed within the company, even as a community Director this past year! He is eager to learn and grow in all areas and is a valuable asset to our company,” says Theresa Bigalk, Portfolio Leader. In his current role, Nick works closely with property owners and investors, streamlining the opening and transition process to ensure the best possible outcome for residents and employees. What makes Nick an incredible employee is his constant pursuit of knowledge and new challenges. He is never afraid to ask questions and effortlessly makes connections wherever he goes. Thank you for your tireless diligence and commitment to excellence, Nick!

Dare to Dream Award

Country Manor


In August of 2020, Mike’s family reached out to Community Director, Miranda Lewis, asking if there would be any possible way for Mike to attend his daughter’s outdoor wedding. In the past, Mike had been estranged from his daughter, making it especially significant for him to be in attendance. Miranda promised the family she would make it happen with Mike’s agreement to quarantine for 14 days afterward. He obliged! Mike was fitted for his tux outdoors in Country Manor’s courtyard while the gentleman from the tux shop guided Miranda in collecting the measurements. After practicing to be a proper escort and finishing touches of a haircut and fresh shave, Mike was ready to walk his daughter down the aisle. It was the happiest he’d been in years. “I can only imagine how much it meant to Mike’s daughter and his family to have him participate in the wedding, and I can’t give enough credit to the team at Country Manor for ensuring this dream could come true in a safe manner,” Kayle Neegaard, Director of Culture & Team Development shares. We are so proud of you, Country Manor team!