Caregiver of the Year



Hellenic Senior Living, New Albany

Dawn not only fulfils with excellence her duties as a QMA, but will always step into whatever role is needed.  She does not hesitate to ensure dishes are washed, laundry completed or  sometimes to just give a simple hug. She passionately provides service. It is a daily event that she stops by her DON office or Administrator’s office to give report on a special need she has noticed with a resident. Her mind is constantly working to figure out how to help. If she realizes a resident is stressed out about their rent…off she runs to the office. If a resident has experienced a loss, she stops and gives whatever time they need to feel heard. Her energy goes before her and residents are so comfortable with her they never hesitate to send for Dawn to help.

This past few months, Dawn had to take some time off. She sat in my office and said. “I can’t be out. I have to be here for my residents, they depend on me.

Every day I watch this woman in the halls when she thinks no one is watching. Room to room she goes with joyous entries into each room. Each resident still hearing her precious greetings.  She gives of herself…no matter what…she gives.

She is our Care Giver not only of the year…but of each day she blesses us with her service.

CONGRATULATIONS Dawn Thorpe for being INALA’s Caregiver of the Year!

Industry Partner of the Year


Nurse Practitioner

Eventus Whole Health

Crystal Wiles, is a Nurse Practitioner with Eventus Whole Health, which part of the “Justus Cares Network”. In addition to serving Woodland Terrace of New Palestine, Crystal manages 6 other buildings.

Crystal is wickedly smart.  She is thorough and follows up on a regular basis. She calls families, answers all of their questions, and explains things to them in a way they can understand.

As we all know the Pandemic brought new challenges to everyone in the entire healthcare industry, Crystal performed Covid nasal swab testing on hundreds and hundreds of staff and residents at all of her buildings combined. Some of the staff started saying “Oh no, here comes that nose test lady again”. We even made a name tag for her that read “Nose test lady”.

Crystal worked the Covid units at her other buildings. She treated more than 100 covid patients.  While many other healthcare staff left the industry, Crystal stayed and took care of them.

When Crystal is not out saving lives she is hiking, cycling, ferrying her 2 children to sports and activities, supporting her husband in his career, and taking care of her certified therapy dog, Negan. She brings Negan to her buildings to provide comfort and therapy to the residents and staff.

Crystal displays the highest level of commitment to those under her care.

CONGRATULATIONS Crystal Wiles for being INALA’s Industry Partner of the year!

Innovation of the Year

Justus Telehealth Program

Justus Senior Living

Nominee: Justus Senior Living Telehealth Program – Angela Miller, Sarah Crist, Dr. Marwan Mustaklem, Andy Westerfield, Christina McCann, Terri Sall,  and Marcy Christian

2020 was a challenging year for all of us. We were challenged to find ways to reduce exposure of COVID-19 for our residents but still provide excellent quality care. One of the ways that Justus Senior Living was able to do this was through the Justus Senior Living Telehealth program. Through this program, residents could not only meet with the contracted Medical Director and Nurse Practitioners, but they also had the ability to utilize the telehealth program with their personal physician of choice.

Stepping Outside of the BoxThe Justus corporation purchased iPads and rolling carts for all Justus Senior Living communities.  All iPads were equipped with apps such as Facetime, Skype, and Microsoft Teams.

The Telehealth program was promoted through the use of flyers, newsletters and daily updates. that went to each of our residents whether they were in Independent Living, Assisted Living or Memory Care. The marketing team educated physicians and followed up with thank you notes to all physicians completing telehealth visits.

Services Included:

  • Behavioral Health Services including Individual Counseling
  • Acute Care
  • Primary Care
  • Hospice Visits
  • Outpatient Therapy Visits
  • Assisted Living & Memory Care Move-In Assessments 

On average, during COVID-19, several communities completed 8-12 telehealth visits per week. As well as completing upwards of 50 additional Virtual Visits with primary care physicians, Outpatient Therapy groups and  other Assisted Living and Independent living appointments.  They were also able to utilize the Telehealth system to Provided assessments for multiple new move-ins thus reducing exposure to current residents but allow new residents to get the care they needed.

Jessie Cogdill, Marketing Director at Woodland Terrace of Carmel summed the program up this way:

“Telehealth was a huge benefit for residents who lived in our community. Access to healthcare during a pandemic was on the forefront of resident’s minds. They felt reassured and confident knowing they had access to our medical director for their health needs. Residents were grateful to know a friendly face would assist them with the technology component,”

CINGRATULATIONS Justus Senior Living For being INALA’s Innovator of the Year!

Leader Under 40

Deejra Lee

Executive Director

Northwoods Village at Edison Lakes

Deejra has worked from being a cook in the kitchen of health care to housekeeping, life enrichment director, marketing director and then executive director. She did all of this while attending college, starting a family, marriage and helping others achieve their goals.

Deejra’s passion is culture changing in communities, while surprising staff with small gifts that are personalized to them, going over and beyond for families and being an impact in her community as well. Deejra obtained her PCA certification in the time of need to help her community get through staffing concerns.  She  cooked meals in the kitchen to help give staff a break and continues to use her 7 years as an activity director to stay engaged with her residents. There is nothing that is too small or too big for her.

Deejra organized a peaceful protest that ended up landing her a spread in the reader’s digest for her outstanding contributions.  She did this while 7 months pregnant, during a pandemic, running an assisted living community and still being a wife and mother. It was important for her to make a change with the race divide in our country. She got over 200 people to attend while getting the full support of the police department to back her. Deejra now works with the police department to find ways to continue to make the city aware of any ways they can work together to help the citizens.

Deejra is now focused on getting her preceptor license to help other younger leaders become an executive director. She’s a culture changer for sure. She enjoys having fun but getting to business while she does it. Her sales techniques are successful because she takes the time to understand and recognize the needs of everyone she encounters. She is a natural born leader, outstanding citizen and a true role model.

Congratulations Deejra Lee for being INALA’s Leader Under 40.

Outstanding Community Director

Amanda Ciak

Executive Director

Northwoods Village at Inverness Lake

Amanda is a passionate advocate for all those navigating Alzheimer’s disease and other cognition robbing diseases. She has directly and personally raised money for Alzheimer’s research. As a strong supporter and advocate for the dementia community, she truly embodies the North Woods Village slogan of Guiding, Caring and Inspiring.

Since Amanda started her leadership position at North Woods Village in December of 2019, average occupancy increased from 82% the year prior to now running at 100% occupancy. She has increased North Woods Villages online ratings through positive online family reviews and has driven a great word of mouth referral system by exceeding family expectations. She has done this while also navigating the ins and outs of a world-wide pandemic.  Team members who had resigned prior to her arrival have been knocking on the door asking to be rehired because of her leadership.

Amanda is also the inspiration behind a wonderful annual event, the Fort Wayne Nurses Ball. This glamorous event brings together all the nurses in the Fort Wayne community to celebrate their hard work, dedication and service to others.  The event allows nurses and their guests to get dressed in their finest attire, cut loose and enjoy the glamorous life with a red carpet to walk down and delicious food and dancing. Most importantly, this event spotlights those who too often work in the shadows without recognition despite the pivotal role they play in saving and enhancing lives.

Amanda enriches the lives of others by modeling professionalism and provides ongoing leadership, dedication, and unending initiative.   Amanda is not only a valuable asset to North Woods Village but also to our industry as a whole.

Congratulations Amanda Ciak for being INALA’s Outstanding Community Director!

Outstanding Food Service Director

Vanessa Schiola

Executive Chef

Residences at Deer Creek

Vanessa has more than 20 years of experience with fine dining, catering, and menu planning and development.  As Executive Chef, Vanessa creates beautiful, delicious and healthy meals for residents, guests and employees. Her culinary philosophy is that food and shared dining experiences bring people together, creating an opportunity for community, laughter and joy.

With Vanessa’s expertise, Residences at Deer Creek has won awards through the Taste of Care food competition for three consecutive years. Vanessa feels strongly that the community receives these awards because the team cares so much.

During the pandemic, Vanessa became creative in meal delivery.  In a time when residents were restricted to their apartments, Vanessa made sure to continue to offer residents choices for meals and made sure they were delivered hot.

Residences at Deer Creek supports the local community with various events and fundraisers.  Chef Vanessa enjoys going to local senior centers and preparing breakfast or lunch so that the seniors can sample the delicious meals.  There are many seniors that look forward to visiting with Vanessa at these events.  Vanessa makes a positive impact on the resident’s lives each day and is a leader and mentor to her staff. 

Congratulations Vanessa Schiola for being INALA’s Outstanding Food Service Director of the Year!

Outstanding Marketing Director

Aaron Owens

Director of Marketing

Woodland Terrace of New Palestine

Aaron displayed all the qualities in a Marketing Director that we look for.  When Aaron   joined our team, this community was experiencing some challenges.  Aaron  quickly jumped on board to prove he was willing to do anything he could to help increase occupancy, build our brand and build relationships.

When the pandemic hit, communities were forced to no longer allow outside visitors, which also meant anyone interested in moving to our community. We ran into objection after objection from concerned family members and prospective residents, but Aaron and his team found a way to overcome them.

Aaron is not only a successful marketer, leasing professional and closer but he has one of the kindest hearts you’ll ever come across. Aaron often finds fun ways to motivate his team, treats them when they’re successful but also encourages them when they need it. 

Aaron   demonstrates that he not only builds strong relationships in the community to achieve his goals, but he has strong relationships with his residents and team Aaron has truly contributed to a positive change of the atmosphere and teamwork at Woodland Terrace of New Palestine.

Congratulations Aaron Owens for being INALA’s Outstanding Marketing Director of the Year!

Outstanding Nurse Leader

Lisa Jelly-May

Director of Nursing

The Leland Legacy

Lisa has been in the long-term care industry for 31 years.  After all this time…she still has the passion and compassion that defines what a Director of Nursing should be. 

Lisa could be seen celebrating with a resident after her last radiation treatment with balloons, gifts and a lot of hooping/hollering knowing the goal for the resident was just to live long enough to get to her grandson’s graduation.   The full circle moment…this woman was a nurse and Lisa’s mentor years ago at the beginning of her career. 

The commitment to lift her staff up in her professional life is of utmost importance to her but also knowing that life events need support too, she will be the first to be with staff and their hardships whatever they may need.  Covering shifts, driving residents to doctor’s appointments, or jumping in to help cna duties…she will forever be first in line to help lead her team by example. 

Lisa’s sacrifice was evident this past year and a half.  Her continual commitment was a huge part of our success through Covid19.  She was strong in her consistency and would continually be heard saying, “we have to stick to our gamebook”. 

Congratulations Lisa Jelly-May for being INALA’s Outstanding Nurse Leader!

Assisted Living Community of the Year

Crestwood Village South

Justus Senior Living

Crestwood Village South Assisted Living opened it doors in 2015 and has grown into a vibrant community.  Even during the worst of the pandemic, Crestwood Village South was resident focused and kept both residents and staff safe and healthy.  Through the collaborative efforts of the EDs, HSDs and corporate staff, the Justus communities worked together to respond to the ever-changing guidelines to educate and protect residents, staff and family members. High vaccination rates for both resident and staff prove the education worked.

The Justus Care Network is a group of carefully vetted care partners who help bring much needed services to residents such as physical therapy, home health and hospice.  Weekly video calls with the Justus Care Network partners encourages excellent communication which results in better care for residents. 

From the Nursing Team, the Business Manager, Life Enrichment, Fitness staff,  the Leasing team, Maintenance, Housekeeping staff, the Dining staff and our Concierge, our residents are greeted daily by people who truly love and care for them. This team takes advantage of the training INALA offers.  INALA supports our mission and helps us grow.

A dynamic creative staff, collaboration with our other communities and corporate staff, a strong care network,  and innovations like our restorative nursing program combined, make Crestwood Village South Assisted Living a vibrant community filled with a great team who care deeply for our residents.

Congratulations Crestwood Village South for being INALA’s Assisted Living Community of the Year!