“Hey, you’re doing a good job,” said Keith, a hurried executive director over his shoulder to a nurse in a senior living community. The nurse welcomes the compliment in this fictitious scenario, but she’s left with questions. What exactly am I doing well?…Is he just saying that?…Does he even know my name?

“Mary, I wanted to tell you how much we appreciate you here,” said director of nursing Rob, stopping Mary in the hallway and looking her directly in the eyes. “Your warmth with residents and ability to see to their needs even before they ask is truly a gift. We are so fortunate to have you on our team, and you’re really helping us achieve our goals.”

As we well know at this point, almost a year to the day since the pandemic turned our lives upside down, those who care for others are some of the most dedicated, overworked people. They are the most deserving of truthful, positive, and specific recognition of their efforts – on a regular basis.

As leaders in the senior living space, we must be less like Keith, tossing out general platitudes while rushing on to the next thing, and more like Rob. At least Keith said something, right? Doesn’t that count? Yes, but now more than ever, we need to be intentional, genuine, and explicit in our praise of our treasured human resources. It’s interesting to note here that 67 percent of managers think they are above average in offering recognition, but only 23 percent of their employees agree, according to the authors of Leading with Gratitude.

Honing in on skills and gifts particular to each individual and recognizing the whole person in relation to work, home and family has tremendous impact on employee retention – more even than the almighty dollar. Indeed, a Gallup survey revealed that the top three things team members say they need to stay with a company are 1) appreciation; 2) help with personal problems; and 3) feeling “in” on things. Money was not among the top three.

But let’s not complicate things. While ceremonies and dinners and plaques in the lunchroom are nice, they’re impractical until herd immunity is achieved and can also feel a bit exclusive. Singular focus on one or two employees risks alienating others, especially the “silent heroes” among us.

Rather, it’s the micro-recognitions – the small, organic and consistent acknowledgments across the board – that pack the biggest punch in helping staff feel truly valued and appreciated. And while it’s certainly not rocket science, there are some practices leaders can employ that are especially effective.

Given that March is employee appreciation month, and senior living is an industry suffering staff turnover rates as high as 36 percent per year, now is an appropriate time to look at how we can inspire employees to stay.

Open Your Eyes
The bedrock of robust employee recognition is noticing the specific ways in which each individual team member is contributing to the health and mission of your organization. If telling your employees that you appreciate what they’re doing at the time they’re doing it isn’t possible or practical, keep a notebook of names and details that you can express to each person at a later time – but not too much later. How you express your gratitude, whether verbally, in a text, email, note, on social media (with permission), isn’t as important as what you say. Be specific, and praise often!

Open Your Ears
A huge part of feeling valued is feeling heard. Your employees are some of your best resources for ideas on how to improve programs and practices and implement new ones. Solicit and listen to their ideas, then really put them to use. Lip service will cause discouragement and motivation to find a more fulfilling work experience. And don’t forget to offer positive feedback on employees’ suggestions that are working well.

Be Inclusive
An “ivory tower” culture breeds contempt. Whether literal or figurative, separation between C-suite personnel and hands-on workers creates a barrier of exclusiveness that alienates and disheartens essential employees. Include all levels of staff in company-wide initiatives, changes, decisions, and solicit their ideas, feelings and feedback. Beware of optics too: posting photos of your fabulous vacations on social media or staying away from your community during COVID upticks or other threats sends the wrong message.

Brush Up on Soft Skills
Some leaders (even in an industry anchored in care) don’t naturally prioritize the “warm fuzzy” stuff that means so much to individual team members. Identifying those who need a little help with soft skills and offering them tools or training could go a long way toward keeping vital human resources for the long haul. The SAIL acronym might be useful for these folks: identify the Situation an employee was in; the Action they took; the Impact it had; then Link it back to the overall purpose of your organization.

Employ Technology
Modern technology offers several platforms to help managers offer consistent positive feedback to staff and regularly gauge employee satisfaction. These platforms do for staff retention what other software does for meeting deadlines and sales goals.

Offer Special Perks
Essential workers need time off more than ever before. Offering rotating half days, covering a portion of gas or transportation fees to work, sending monthly goodies to their homes, inquiring about their families and where help at home may be needed…these are all meaningful ways to say “we appreciate you” to your staff. Of course, even a small raise or holiday bonus sends a big message of thanks.

Focus on Success
It’s easy to dwell on dwindling census, ailing residents, demanding safety procedures, low resident and family morale, but there is still much good news in senior living – even during a pandemic. Sharing with staff the little victories, innovations, triumphs and successes they made happen not only mitigates employee burnout, it sends a message of hope, resilience and recovery. This too shall pass, and when it does, your team will be stronger, more confident, and better able to serve current and future residents to the best of their amazing ability.

We at IVY are proud of our clients’ efforts to recognize their valued employees. We are also here to help them achieve the staff longevity that is so important to prospective residents and their families. With 30 years of marketing and public relations experience in the senior living space, our team of experts can help you craft intentional employee communications programs, incentives and initiatives tailored to your unique community, culture and common causes.
And because past and current staff members sometimes turn to employee websites to air grievances in the workplace, it is important to monitor those sites to stay apprised and ahead of potential conflict. We can help you with that, too.

Employee appreciation doesn’t end with the close of this month. It should be a priority every day of the year. Contact IVY Marketing Group to help you keep it top of your list.


It’s addicting!  The fast-paced, ever changing world of public relations and marketing captures your interest and keeps you charged up to learn more everyday.  I love to find the best ways to tell our client’s stories and man, they have awesome stories!

It’s my job to discover our client’s goals and then match the best processes to achieve them, within their budgets, of course.  I get to explore traditional, digital and every manner of communication to determine which tactics, whether it is direct mail or TV advertising, a new website or PPC (to name just a few) will efficiently and effectively capture the attention of prospects. 

I also get to work with great people at IVY – they’re creative, fun, caring and super smart.  We’ve all been around the industry a while so there is not a novice among us.  Our clients are very cool too and totally passionate about the services they offer.  We’ve been working with most of them for years so we know they truly care about being innovative and responsible to the markets they service.  I have great admiration for all of them and look forward to every day. 

It’s true what “they” say, if you love what you do, you won’t work a day of your life!


IVY was established in 1990 with a basic premise to offer professional, ethical and highly creative marketing, advertising and public relations services. We have successfully maintained our core values and have been part of many amazing projects, client growth and changes in the world of marketing that continue to happen at lightening speed. Most of our clients serve older adults in some capacity so we keep abreast of the opportunities and challenges they face.   Each day, we keep it real and fun and consistently deliver positive results to our clients and their markets.


As a hybrid graphic and digital designer/web developer with over 17 years of experience, I am always on the lookout for innovative digital and print visual communications. IVY Marketing Group’s broad range of projects keeps my job challenging and rewarding, as each campaign is a new and exciting opportunity to effectively communicate our clients’ messages and help them achieve their goals. It’s my passion!

My body of work encompasses a diverse design style and wide base of clients, ranging from national associations, small businesses and big name brands like Hyatt and LiftMaster. I firmly believe that form follows function and highly value the communicative power of simplicity. 

Areas of professional expertise include Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Word Press, Responsive Design, CSS3, and HTML5. The industries I’ve served include senior living, health care, hospitality and finance.


All my life, I have loved writing. As a child, I could often be found in my room “writing a book.” While “novelist” is not (yet) on my resume, I am a storyteller. I believe that everyone and everything has a great story, and it is my joy to find that story and share it with the world.

After earning my bachelor’s degree in journalism and completing my master’s studies in the same field, I joined a small advertising agency with powerhouse clients in the hospitality industry, such as Hyatt, Hilton International and Carnival Cruise Lines. I began as a proofreader and achieved the position of senior copy writer within a year.

After my first son was born, followed by two more, I started a freelance writing business that included (among several others) such clients as Advocate Health Care and Coldwell-Banker Realty. Clients in the education arena included DeVry University’s Becker CPA and Stalla CFA Reviews, DePaul University, and Naperville School District 203, for which I won two state public relations awards.

For nine years, I was employed as Communications Director for a large faith community, where I managed all aspects of internal and external communications. I was writer, editor, designer, web master, and content manager.

As such, I am experienced and comfortable writing multimedia for a broad variety of industries, products and services.

I joined IVY Marketing Group in 2013, when I began writing client press releases on a freelance basis. I loved the work—and my teammates—so much, I was thrilled when I was invited to come on board in a greater capacity.

I have immensely enjoyed getting to know our valued clients in the senior housing industry, the people they serve, and telling the many wonderful stories that come out of content marketing done right—with the love and care our IVY teams puts into everything we do.


It all starts with one idea. Working with the Ivy creative team for over two decades has always meant taking one great idea and bringing it to life to help our clients meet their goals. We enjoy the challenges offered with every creative opportunity and try to make the design process itself enjoyable for our clients.


Making certain that the projects IVY produces are word- and picture-perfect is my specialty. But I also love implementing marketing campaigns and programs that bring our clients success. Details are my thing, so it is a pleasure to have worked with IVY twice now, first after college four years ago and, recently, for the past two years.

The IVY Group is a terrific team of creative, positive and talented professionals that I love working with and, judging from the length of stay of our clients, I think they love our team, too!


Rock-climbing, training for an 80-floor stair climb event, running a 5K…This is just a tiny peek into what people 20 and even 30 years older than I am, are doing on a fairly regular basis at some of the retirement communities that IVY represents.

I’m of the generation that still has reoccurring nightmares about what the next step looked like when my grandmother could no longer live by herself. The very best option at that time was living at a “facility” and  included eating rubbery chicken and playing an occasional game of BINGO. Period. That’s why my parent’s generation begged us not to ever put them into “one of those places.”

I am so proud that IVY’s clients are at the very forefront of an industry that creates opportunities, challenges, and most of all freedom for seniors, allowing them to explore hobbies, interests, passions…the next chapter of their very full lives.

I feel reassured for my own future. Even more, I feel honored to be able to share the impactful stories about this paradigm shift in the world of senior housing. What we hear and see at our clients’ communities is fascinating and inspiring!


Keeping up to date on new public relations strategies, online engagement tactics, and promotional tools is my passion.

With my hospitality background in marketing top Chicago restaurants and hotels, I was eager to bring fresh concepts and communication strategies to our clients and have really enjoyed learning various industries.

Our clients have such exciting and unique events and programs, which really makes it motivating for me to make the most of their content.  Results like increased sales leads, website visits and social media connections make everyday rewarding and interesting.


I oversee, plan and implement projects and processes at IVY.  Often,  I am the conduit between our writers and designers, with printers, and other vendors to fulfill the marketing needs for our clients. I also manage media buys and coordinate production of advertisements.

Working for a flexible and fluid company that is constantly growing, changing and evolving is fun and rewarding. There is always something new to learn.


My bio has a big blank in the beginning—Mom and Dad rescued me in Wisconsin, and no one really knows my origins. They were probably ruff. What matters though is where I am now, running IVY Marketing Group. There are humans here who think they’re in charge. In truth, they do actually have amazing experience in content marketing and public relations, but I’m super important and the center of attention. I mean, look at this face. Right? And I know I’m the top dog because honestly, I’m the only one allowed to sleep through staff meetings and eat things that people drop on the floor.

The fact is though that I truly love staying awake at staff meetings. Everyone talks and laughs and they’re always excited. That surprises me a little because it’s not like anyone has thrown a ball to play fetch or anything. But I guess what gets my pack of peoples’ tails wagging is their work and their clients. I don’t know what a website or a blog is, but I do know that my pack must be good at them because they’ve earned all sorts of awards for these and other things. My bed had to be moved because the framed certificates were taking up so much room. Despite the inconvenience, I’m proud of these awards!

I serve several important purposes at IVY. I always let Mom (and the world) know when the mailman is here. When people come into the office, just one (usually) quick non-invasive (usually) sniff, allows me to determine important characteristics…like if they had anything good for breakfast, own any pets (pet owners are the best!) or if they stepped in anything on the way in. (It’s sort of like me conducting a first job interview.) I generously share my tummy because I know people like to give it a good scratch. I always give kisses, whether one is feeling lonely or not. And I’m always happy to share someone’s meal, especially if they’re trying to lose weight. My pack describes me as being engaging, amusing, and entertaining. (When I hear a siren, I “sing” along and it makes them laugh.) NPR talks about the benefits of having a pet at the workplace. Studies show pets lower stress hormones and improve morale and productivity. I wholeheartedly agree that a dog in the workplace is the best thing since rawhide bones.

As for my pack of people at IVY…they are amazing and always make my tail wag!


I could not be more thrilled to work alongside the IVY team.

For over 25 years, I have been employed in top executive positions across the Chicago area and have consistently built profitable businesses, generated sales, and developed and launched new product lines.

Strategically positioning companies and commodities for growth is a strong suit I’m eager to bring to ResponderHub™, IVY’s new crisis communications solution. I’m also excited to help expand IVY’s reach in the senior marketing industry.

I believe people are more open than ever to thinking outside the box and looking at new ways to reach their customer base, while at the same time reducing their cost of sale. The senior industry is exploding, and IVY is perfectly positioned to respond to the need for innovative, quality content marketing services and effective crisis communications.


I love being able to use my skills to help improve other people’s lives, and with a growing elderly population, it’s important to create meaningful and user-friendly digital solutions to aid the senior living industry.I have a wide range of technology and design skills with a deep interest in Human-Computer Interaction– helping IVY provide outstanding web design and print design services. IVY has a long-proven track record of excellence, and I’m proud to be able to help carry on that tradition.