We’re proud to have strong, creative, dedicated and compassionate team members who contribute to the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we spoke with three emerging leaders and learned about the guidance they were given to succeed, how Westminster has supported their growth and what advice they have for women hoping to grow at any organization.
Jini McClelland joined Westminster Communities of Florida as Administrative Assistant at one of our Life Plan Communities, and she recently celebrated completing her first year as Administrator at Hugh Ash Manor, a rental retirement community in DeLand for older adults with low to moderate incomes.
McClelland noted that she has had many mentors and they shared a common set of traits. “They were all very confident and assertive,” McClelland said. “They knew how to balance assertive versus aggressive.”
Our emerging leaders echoed the challenge for women in leadership to balance those characteristics. Westminster Winter Park Executive Director Angie Layfield said her mentors encouraged her to understand that you can be all things as a woman in a leadership role. “You can hold people accountable while still being kind. You don’t have to be one or the other,” Layfield said. “I think it’s important to be confident, to ask questions, and not to back down or feel like you have any less of a role because you’re a woman.”
Layfield noted that having more women in leadership roles allows for a more compassionate, empathetic and family-friendly workplace – which also affects the residents we serve. “We want to be compassionate to our residents, and if we’re not compassionate, understanding and solution-driven for our team members, how are we expecting them to do that for our residents?” she said.
Melissa Paul joined Westminster Communities of Florida in 2016 as an Assistant Dining Services Director. Today, she is the Dining Services Director at Westminster Suncoast, and feels that diversity and representation in the workplace is an important part of innovation.
“If everyone is the same as you, and you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten,” Paul said. “In order to be innovative and collaborative you need the whole spectrum to be represented and at the table.”
Paul utilized Westminster’s Tuition Reimbursement Program to take a certified dietary manager course, one of the components she needed to assume the Dining Services Director role. Over the past five years, Westminster’s Tuition Reimbursement Program has provided more than $115,000 in tuition reimbursement to team members throughout our organization, all for the opportunity for career advancement.
Paul noted that from the start of her career at Westminster, the directors she worked under taught her everything she needed to know to eventually become a director. “Westminster believes in good bench strength to promote from within,” Paul said.
McClelland has found similar support from leaders within the organization. “I’ve been encouraged from day one for educational and growth opportunities,” she said. “We have some really great leaders at Westminster and I’m really proud to say that a lot of them are women,” McClelland said.
She encouraged team members to reach out to leaders for any advice they might need on their career trajectory, opportunities available to them to help them grow. “A lot of leaders in the organization are really open to those discussions and can be very helpful,” McClelland said.
Paul said as a leader her goal is to support her team so they can achieve their goals, both professionally and personally. Professionally, she can recommend the tuition reimbursement and scholarship programs she benefitted from, and personally, she points team members to the resources available through Westminster, the state or even the local women’s resource center.
“I had one recent one where the team member had financial goals. They wanted to increase their credit score,” she said. “We have resources with the banks we partner with, as well as the Employee Assistance Program. I can give them tools to help them reach those goals,” Paul said.
Leading the team at our Life Plan Community in Winter Park and Baldwin Park, Layfield said her role is to inspire people around her to do the right thing, and that reflects on the lives on the people we serve.
“Largely what we have the privilege to do in senior living is to make people’s lives better every single day,” Layfield said. “If we can inspire people to do the right thing, then we can achieve our organizational goals, because all of those things run parallel to each other.”
Stay tuned as we share more stories and experiences in addition to our emerging leaders from just some of the inspiring women who contribute to the Westminster Communities of Florida Mission every day in honor of Women’s History Month.
Read our previous article for Women’s History Month about two refugee team members.