Every organization’s excellence depends on the people who work for it. We recognize that to reach our goal of excellence in providing a vibrant and healthy lifestyle to our residents, we must have motivated, well-trained and enthusiastic employees.
We are Ladies & Gentlemen, Serving Ladies & Gentlemen
By working at Koelsch Communities, you’re making a difference in people’s lives — one of those intangible rewards that’s hard to find. And at Koelsch Communities, we hope to make a difference in your life too. Respect is the driving force sustaining the culture. Respect for our employees, their insights, and their ideas. A Koelsch Communities we believe that we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.
Regional Director of Operations for the Mountain State Region
Michelle Baker has been raising the bar as Regional Director of Operations for the Mountain State Region since January 2016. Michelle came to Koelsch in 2013 when she was made the Executive Director of Spring Creek Inn, Bozeman, Montana. Since then, President and CEO Aaron Koelsch has watched Michelle “provide experienced, steady leadership to our employees which has led to consistent positive outcomes for our residents, and their families.
Vice President of Operations Cyndie Bryant, RN describes Michelle as, “a real go getter, with a penchant for over managing the details, which fits perfectly with our core values. Michelle manages with a high level of excellence.” Cyndie went on to say that Michelle “really works to communicate on levels that all team members can connect with.
Over Michelle’s time with Koelsch, Cyndie isn’t the only one to appreciate her fluid communication styles. Chief Operating Officer Dan Williams reaffirmed that, “Michelle is an excellent communicator. She just has a way with words that really connects with people in a pleasant, yet firm, approach that’s wonderful to see in action.
Michelle’s renowned communication skills didn’t sprout overnight. When she first graduated college, Michelle “started in the telecommunications business,” where she remained for a 15-year period from 1992-2007.
During that time, Michelle’s grandfather was living in an assisted living community, “and that’s when my interest switched to assisted living,” Michelle told us. We asked her about the career move, and Michelle thought back, “Oh-my-gosh a lot changed,” she said warmly. “My new role had much more of a focus on people and building relationships, where I was still able to apply my communications skills, but now they gave me a much more meaningful result.
Michelle started her work in the assisted living field in 2007, before landing at Koelsch Communities in 2013. Coming to Spring Creek Inn was a welcomed change, as Michelle had been traveling extensively for work. “When the opportunity presented itself at Spring Creek Inn, I was looking for a way to spend more time at home, and it worked out very well.” Michelle’s family appreciated the switch, too, and so did her new coworkers.
In Michelle’s time as Executive Director of Spring Creek Inn, Cyndie Bryant could see Michelle “really believes in making a community a home environment, where everybody is involved and everybody feels they’re really contributing to the whole team’s effort, no matter who they are in the community.
From Michelle’s perspective, that’s the fun part of her job. “I get the most from the camaraderie among the people I work with; you know, the small family environment that we cultivate.” She went on, “I think we’re all with Koelsch because we want to help people in some way, and here we have an opportunity to help others while we’re making a living for our families.
Those words rang true as Cyndie Bryant told us more about Michelle. “To Michelle, a caregiver is not just a caregiver, and that’s a principle we try to project in all of our communities.
Today, as Regional Director of Operations, Michelle is back on the road, but now the timing is right. Michelle says the change was again welcomed. “I’m a bit of an independent type, I like to see and do different things, and have variety in the day.
Now, Michelle loves that “every day is different, and I never know where I’m gonna be from week to week.” After raising the bar at Spring Creek Inn, Cyndie Bryant thinks the Regional Director role is a perfect fit for Michelle. “Michelle just sets the example. It starts with her, and she teaches other to follow,” Cyndie continued, “She really directs others to success.
Dining Services Specialist
Looking back at Joel August’s journey to become the Dining Services Specialist for Koelsch Communities, he really was a man on a mission. Joel joined Koelsch Communities in 2014 when he opened Cedarbrook in Fresno, California, where he said “having that opportunity to start fresh was really enticing for me.” Joel had dreamed of having his own kitchen for years, and at Koelsch Communities, things really began to culminate.
Regional Director of Operations Eva Arant saw Joel as “a very positive young man,” and told other leaders that Joel really shined in his role as Culinary Director. “He developed a great team, and the kitchen was always a great place to be in.” Eva expanded, “Joel’s team was always having fun while maintaining an excellent work quality, the kitchen was always clean, and the food was amazing.”
Back when Joel was just eight or nine years old, he already had the inkling to run his own kitchen. “I always wanted to either own a restaurant, or build houses. I was very hands on as a kid, and I guess running a professional kitchen was always something I thought I’d be doing.” Joel fondly recalls those childhood days when he and his sister would “pretend to play restaurant all the time.” “Now I get to do that every day,” Joel said happily.
In college, Joel worked to receive a “bachelor degree in hospitality management with an emphasis on commercial recreation, and a minor in food and nutritional science.” During that time, he worked about every position under a restaurant’s roof, from the back of the house to the front, and in Joel’s final semester his high GPA earned him a prestigious internship “running a small dinner cruise off the coast of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.” There, Joel “got to see different cultures, and lots of different food,” all of which have contributed to the skill set he brought to Koelsch Communities.
Since he started with Koelsch, President and CEO Aaron Koelsch has watched Joel’s performance, “Joel has been a blessing to our communities, and his wisdom is far greater than his age might indicate.”
At Cedarbrook, Joel’s culinary skills continued to thrive. Eva Arant told us, “Joel believes you eat with your eyes, and making both presentations and quality a priority were very important to him.”
This was one of the many things that Joel learned while working in various kitchens in college, and he told us “being able to bring those things to the residents at Cedarbrook was really fun.” Joel went on, “sometimes people have a bit of a stigma about food in this industry, and being able to exceed those expectations was ultimately one of my favorite things at Cedarbrook.”
While at Cedarbrook, Joel had an impact on much more than his kitchen. Executive Director Lisa Poole-Johnson of Cedarbrook, told us, “Having spent 20 years in this industry, Joel is the first food service director I’ve ever seen who really encompassed the whole community.”
While he was Culinary Director at Cedarbrook, Joel developed a very special connection with one of the memory care residents; a woman by the name of Edna. Joel told us, “Edna and I had this bond that wasn’t quite like any other resident.” He can still picture her face lighting up at “just the sight of him.” When Edna passed away, her family wrote a very heartfelt letter to Joel and asked him to speak at her funeral. To this day Joel keeps the letter from Edna’s family in his car, a memory that he will always hold dear.
Lisa Poole-Johnson told us, “Joel has families whose loved ones have passed away two years ago from Cedarbrook that still keep in contact with him on a regular basis, and when he comes to Fresno, they want to see him-- that’s what kind of impact Joel had.”
On April 1, 2016, Joel was promoted to Dining Services Specialist and made the move to the Home Office in Olympia, Washington. There, Joel told us he’s been “super grateful to have the opportunity to influence and motivate all of our Culinary Directors company-wide.” Joel knows that “not every Executive Director is an expert in the kitchen,” and he’s thrilled to be able to support the Culinary Directors throughout the Koelsch communities. Today, Joel loves getting hands-on throughout the Koelsch Communities kitchen’s and Lisa Poole-Johnson knows he’s the perfect person for the job, telling us, “Joel has that ‘IT’ factor! You can’t quite put your finger on it, but everything he does is SPECTACULAR--There’s a quote for you!”
Vice President of Memory Care and Resident Services Cyndie Bryant’s career at Koelsch Senior Communities began as a volunteer, went through a lengthy delay and then took off again after a period of deep professional despair.
As a young girl, Cyndie knew she wanted to be a nurse and would tag along with her aunt who worked at a Koelsch community in Longview, WA as a Certified Nursing Assistant. “I would help pass out ice water and assist with meals. I enjoyed helping people,” she says.
She remembers Koelsch Community co-founder Alice Schultz (Koelsch) giving her a lesson on how to make a bed. “She taught me to be precise, execute sharp corners and finish with a smooth, tight bed. I was just a kid, but Mrs. Schultz showed me how to do an excellent job in the service of another person.”
Fast forward: Cyndie put herself through nursing school juggling two jobs. She worked for 17 years as a nurse in a variety of settings, including the emergency room, hospital floors and nursing homes. “It wasn’t like my dream,” she says. “The ER was too hard on my heart. At hospitals, I struggled to build relationships; the faces were always changing. At many institutions, I watched patients get short-changed because somebody wanted to make a buck.”
Burnt out and disillusioned, Cyndie quit her job and told her family she would never work in nursing again.
Three weeks later, after every family member begged her to find an outlet for her considerable energy, Cyndie went on an interview for a part-time, night-shift nurse with the same company where she first worked as a volunteer, Koelsch Communities. Cyndie was hired on October 4, 1999.
“I went back to a place where I remembered feeling like I was making a difference,” she says. “A place where I learned even a simple job, like making the bed, could be performed with excellence.”
When the company learned about Cyndie’s background and experience, she was offered a Director of Nursing (now called Director of Resident Services) position instead. Cyndie’s career at Koelsch was off and running. New opportunities for professional growth were regularly offered to her. Within five years of that first interview, Cyndie was serving as both the Executive Director and the Director of Resident Services for two Longview communities, Canterbury Gardens (Memory Care) and Delaware Plaza (Assisted Living).
Work started to feel good again. “At Koelsch, if you needed something to provide the best care for a resident, you got it. Aaron Koelsch (current President and CEO) operated under the same philosophy as his mother Alice--the resident comes first. There was no scrimping. I enjoyed the feeling that I was doing right by my patients. I felt proud of my work and my company.”
She also relished the opportunity to interact with residents again. “I loved the relationships I found here,” she says. Remembering her own positive experience as a volunteer, Cyndie started periodically bringing along her teenage daughter April after school and during holidays and breaks.
As the company began to expand into its current eight-state market, Cyndie was asked to write the manual for all Koelsch Directors of Resident Services. Then she was offered the opportunity to travel to new communities to help hire and train nursing directors and staffs as the company’s Vice President of Memory Care and Resident Services.
“I’m passionate about setting a standard for excellence in resident care and then supporting our communities as they work to achieve it. We’re all on the same team at Koelsch. There’s camaraderie and loyalty here. And that can be hard to come by in the working world,” says Cyndie, who now enjoys an 18-year relationship with the company.
Déjà vu all over again: Meantime, another Bryant career was beginning to flourish at Koelsch. Cyndie’s daughter April, who tagged along with her mom as a teenage volunteer, was hired as a Receptionist. Earlier this year, April received her first promotion: Head Receptionist/Human Resources at Canterbury Gardens. “I’m delighted and proud that April has found the same opportunity for professional growth and satisfaction at Koelsch Communities that I did,” Cyndie says.
Hope, Growth & Opportunity
At Koelsch Communities we believe in empowering our employees. One of the ways we do this is by proving hope, growth, and opportunity to our employees. In fact, it would be hard to find someone at Koelsch Communities who has not experienced firsthand the hope, growth & opportunity we offer. Check Out a few stories from our team and how they have been empowered and encouraged and have grown in our company.
Great People Know Great People
If you work for Koelsch Communities, we believe you have the vision and determination required to stand out amongst your peers. We believe you know people just like yourself, people who have the drive to become a valuable member of our team. Use our firstname.lastname@example.org and help make our strong teams even stronger. To refer someone today or to learn more, email email@example.com.