Throughout Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting the contributions of women in leadership roles in our organization. We are fortunate to have countless team members who exemplify our Mission of service. Today, we interview two leaders who put our faith-based Mission at the core of their service to our organization. As Saint Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”
Along with every American, throughout March we will be commemorating Women’s History Month. Read Part I and learn about how our service to the residents comes first
The Rev. Jan Banker
“I’m a mother to four daughters — no sons – and entered a profession that was off limits to women for centuries, so I have a deep sensitivity to challenges women face in the workforce from multiple sources,” said the Rev. Jan Banker, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and chaplain at Westminster Shores in St. Petersburg. “When I first joined the organization, I wanted a new experience other than serving in a local congregation that would build on my passions and also utilize my gifts and experience. I highly valued working for a church-related organization that considered chaplains important enough to make sure each of their communities employs one. I was drawn by the size and diversity of the staff which makes for a work environment that stimulates and broadens my horizons in ways most local churches cannot.”
Being from the first generation of Presbyterian women to graduate from seminary, Rev. Banker said, “Many of us struggled to get ordained and receive calls to congregations. The stained-glass ceiling–as we clergy women call it–was pressing down on me from the very start.” But, she adds, “I’ve found more parity, support and acceptance at Westminster Communities of Florida.”
An organization with a Mission inspired by the Bible has served other leaders in our organization well. Our CEO, Roger Stevens, assigns new leaders the Book of Proverbs, and encourages them to follow a path of ethical and moral leadership.
Suzanne Barnes, AIA
“I completely agree with biblical principles that support our Mission,” said Suzanne Barnes, Director of Design in our Management Services office. She quotes Psalm 127:1 as her inspiration: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”
Barnes, an architect, found her career come full circle when she first came to work for our organization. She holds a certificate in gerontology, along with a master’s degree in architecture, and she did her master’s thesis on design for senior living with the support of a Bradenton physician, Dr. Richard Conard. One of the communities she visited as part of her research would later become part of the family of Westminster Communities of Florida: Westminster Point Pleasant.
“I feel a blessing that Westminster offers is the network throughout the state of quality projects at varied levels, with caring colleagues and administrators who take time to handwrite heartfelt cards several times a year,” Barnes said. “I personally feel that my role as a leader is to be a steward and ambassador of our design resources and to make our office an oasis to challenge and dream about better ways to implement successful designs.”
Barnes describes working in senior living design as her “dream job,” and was recently interviewed about her experiences by the Wall Street Journal. Read more about her career and her experience as Director of Design there.
Why, to a leader who is inspired by our Mission and her faith, is it important to have leadership that consists of both men and women? Rev. Banker said that isn’t just good for our organization operationally; it’s also good for the organization spiritually. “Since we are church-related and have a theology that God created male and female in the divine image, we must have women in leadership, including at the very top tiers,” she said.
What are the ways in which we can honor women this month? We look forward to sharing the next installment in this series with you soon.