Editor’s note: McKnight’s Home Care, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living are profiling the McKnight’s 2022 Women of Distinction honorees daily July 5 through Aug. 10. For additional McKnight’s Women of Distinction content, visit this page.

As senior vice president of resident and family experience and engagement, Sara Terry leads several important operational functions at Brookdale Senior Living. She guides strategy and standards, resident engagement, resident family connections program, dementia care and dining services, to name just a few.

Starting as a dining server at the age of 16 for Attic Angels, a continuing care retirement community, Terry’s breadth of knowledge, experience and passion make her the perfect mentor to those coming up behind her and those who come to senior living and care from other fields, colleagues say.

Terry has been with Brookdale, the country’s largest senior living company, since 2003. Before joining the chain, she held roles in operations, sales and marketing at CRAssociates, Extendicare and Genesis HealthCare. She has been in the industry for more than 40 years and is widely known as a pioneer in helping to change the perception and experience of aging through initiatives such as Brookdale’s B-Fit and Optimum life programs.

At Brookdale, Terry is a leader in key strategic partnerships, including the Walk to End Alzheimer’s program with the Alzheimer’s Association. Under her leadership, the company has become a Diamond Team, raising more than $19 million for it since 2008.

Terry also helped found Brookdale’s emergency response center, which led the company’s COVID-19 pandemic actions, working seven days a week since the beginning of COVID-19’s emergence.

She also has been involved politically, testifying on Capitol Hill to advocate for new guidelines supporting advancements in dementia care.

“Many people know Sara as a force of nature with a servant heart — a force that won’t rest when it comes to advocating and innovating for seniors,” said Caroline Sprouse, senior communications director for Brookdale. Initiatives such as Brookdale’s Celebrate Aging Film Festival, which won Argentum’s Best of the Best award in 2018, is the creation of Terry and her team. The festival showcases short films by Brookdale staff and residents that aim to change negative perceptions of aging.

Outside of Brookdale, Terry is a mentor and a visiting instructor at Cornell University. She also is an “industry scholar” for the Cornell Institute for Healthy Aging Futures, where she works to create a cohesive learning community, develops educational programs and creates academic-industry partnerships to explore innovations across hospitality, health and design.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Home Care, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living. The program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare. Silver sponsors include OnShift and PharMerica, and the Bronze sponsor is Reliant Rehabilitation. Table sponsors included Dreamscape, Gojo/Purell and Sound Physicians.