When Kathy Ryan first walked through the front doors of The Saybrook at Haddam independent residence and assisted living community, she immediately knew she had entered a special place.
“The front lobby was an open, bright, cheerful place, and everyone was genuinely happy,” she remembers. “Right away, I could envision myself coming to work here each day.”
And so, Kathy became the first executive director for the community under its new owners. At that time, residency was only at 29 percent, staff numbered less than 10, and many key operational policies and procedures needed to be developed.
This was the perfect scenario for Kathy and the entire management team that saw an opportunity to build an exceptional, high-quality senior community that reflected the stunning and gracious manor-style setting. They could plan out the amenities, services and programs that truly helped a community thrive.
“The word ‘community’ means the world to me,” Kathy said. “Communities should be welcoming, active, engaging and vibrant – regardless of the stage of life we happen to be in. While seniors have greater health and wellness needs, they also have the same community needs as everyone else. I knew The Saybrook at Haddam could be a fabulous place for seniors to receive daily care and to enjoy a wonderful quality of life.”
So, seven years ago, Kathy set out to upgrade The Saybrook at Haddam, bring in experienced staff members, add recreational programming and a van for local transportation, and welcome a growing number of residents. Today, the beautiful community enjoys a high occupancy rate (often reaching close to 100 percent), has a full staff of more than 70 professionals, has exceptional wellness services, offers nutritious chef-prepared meals along with countless social, cultural and recreational opportunities.
During Kathy’s time, the community expanded twice: once to add the Safe Harbor Memory Care neighborhood (pictured here with David Downey) and once to expand Safe Harbor and add more apartments throughout The Saybrook at Haddam.
“Through all this change and construction and noise and disruption, residents really showed a sense of resilience and understanding,” Kathy said. “They could see and appreciate our vision for the future and they seemed eager to play their part. I felt honored to walk through this journey with them.”
Kathy also said she felt enriched by every resident, family member and employee at The Saybrook at Haddam – and appreciates how they supported her mission to create a real culture of kindness and caring for the community. That culture is what defines the Saybrook at Haddam and is the thing she treasures most and knows will live on as she hands over leadership to the new executive director, Jeff Williams.
Jeff joins The Saybrook at Haddam with extensive management experience at senior living communities, most recently as executive director at Atria Senior Living’s Greenridge Place in Rocky Hill. While there, he faced some of the similar challenges as Kathy’s: building community, increasing services and quality of life for residents, and improving employee satisfaction. He met these challenges with success, bringing the community into a strong and stable position, poised for future growth.
Jeff also served as associate executive director at the Village at East Farms (a Benchmark Senior Living community) in Waterbury and at The Gables at Farmington. Working as part of the upper management team, Jeff met daily and long-term challenges to build and maintain some of the best independent living, assisted living and memory care communities in the state.
Additionally, Jeff has experience operating and managing several local YMCA branches. At the Hamden/North Haven YMCA, Jeff reversed a 15-year “downturn” by revamping programming, adding services, streamlining management, building staff, and returning the focus to the community. At both the Wheeler Regional Family YMCA and the Northwest Connecticut YMCA, Jeff oversaw expansions, renovations and overall growth – all while maintaining the greater mission to serve the community.
With this background, Jeff is poised to carry The Saybrook at Haddam into a successful future. As Kathy prepares to walk out the front doors of the place she has loved and cared for so deeply over the past seven years, she is pleased and proud to know the right people are solidly in place.
“This is a special place,” she said. “This is a place to call home, and I am grateful for the chance to help build that home.”
We all wish Kathy a wonderful retirement and warmly welcome Jeff to The Saybrook at Haddam.