Melissa Gannon Receives 2021 Excellence in Leadership Award

The Excellence in Leadership award is given to an individual in a significant leadership position who demonstrates leadership actions that enrich and enhance the lives of older adults, is a strong motivator and mentor for others, and has done specific actions that create a supportive team culture. Melissa Gannon, COO and Administrator for Perry Lutheran Homes, won the Excellence in Leadership award based on her dedication to successfully leading Perry Lutheran Homes simultaneously through a pandemic, derecho, and acquisition of a senior living community.

“I was both shocked and honored to receive this incredible award; it means the world. Senior Living Community leaders across the country have faced so many challenges throughout the past couple of years,” said Melissa Gannon. “More than just myself, the Perry Lutheran Homes team has stepped up to rise above the challenges of the pandemic, to take in 13 displaced CCDI memory care residents in one day due to the derecho, and to successfully acquire a new senior living community. I’m surrounded by some of the most talented and compassionate people. It’s been a challenging journey, but I know that we are better because of it.”

Enjoy the video and nomination write-up below!

Award Nomination Write-Up

Melissa Gannon, Administrator and COO of Perry Lutheran Homes, joined her industry colleagues in working through the many challenges of a pandemic world. As was the norm during this chaotic time, her best efforts to keep residents and staff safe and families connected were done under changing and layered regulations that often contradicted and staffing challenges that complicated plans and forced long hours.

Unlike most of her industry colleagues, Melissa faced two other challenges in 2020 that set her apart and defined her ability to lead an organization in one of the most dynamic of times. When the natural and destructive phenomenon called a derecho occurred, she facilitated 13 emergency admissions in one day. In addition, she was navigating the acquisition of a senior living community that was long suffering on the CMS Special Focus Facility list. 

The August 2020 derecho caused damage at Perry Lutheran Homes Campuses. However, when learning that a neighboring care community needed to evacuate their residents, Melissa offered and opened up Perry Lutheran Homes to receive all 13 of their displaced CCDI memory care residents without hesitation. This would be difficult under any circumstance, doubly so in a pandemic. The transition was done in a quick manner and though several issues needed to be worked through, the incoming residents and their families were spared much of the turmoil. Melissa worked closely with the leaders of the neighboring community and adopted a ‘let’s get it done and figure it out later’ mentality that created an expectation that details would be worked through professionally at another time. This allowed the mission of both care communities as excellent caregivers to rise to the top. Melissa and her team not only took in new residents, but also made a home for several members of their staff. Because of Melissa’s “residents first” approach, teams from both Perry Lutheran Homes and the neighboring care community united around resident-centered care and meaningful living.

In addition to the pandemic and housing emergency evacuees, Melissa was quietly leading an operational assessment and planning effort related to the of the acquisition of a troubled senior living community. This was done without the ability to enter the new community (due to pandemic and the inability to disclose the potential sale). It involved many hours of working with and coordinating efforts of our strategic partners, including lawyers, insurance teams, architects, bankers, state and federal regulators, and of course our church owners. While it would have been easy to give the process a cursory effort, or to lose focus, Melissa managed through it all and pioneered many at-length ways to create a unified team needed for the acquisition and for operating it as the new acquisition moved to completion in November 2020, including being ready for a DIA survey within the first two weeks of take-over.

Any one of these three efforts would have required significant leadership talent. Doing all three at once took excellence in leadership to a new level. Though tired, her tireless efforts to help the Perry Lutheran Homes community be successful in each of these endeavors, and dozens more, is the evidence of Melissa’s great heart, her wonderful faith that “God’s got this!” and her outstanding leadership and management muscle. Melissa is the best of the best in our book and we are blessed to have her as our leader.