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Charlestown’s new executive director finds her niche

Clara Parker feels kinship at Catonsville community

Created date

October 23rd, 2012

Clara Parker felt a connection with Charlestown long before she ever accepted the position of executive director. In fact, she says she feels as though she s spent her entire career preparing for this role. I ve always been passionate about helping to guide and develop the culture that makes Erickson Living communities such great places to live and work, says Parker. As executive director at Charlestown, I now have the opportunity to do just that.

Bottom line

Parker initially began her career with the Baltimore-based company at Oak Crest, in Parkville, Md., where she spent three years as finance director. She then took on a regional director role and later became a member of Erickson Living s corporate regional management team. I enjoyed the time I spent in finance, but I ve always wanted to be in the heart of the community, says Parker. The residents and the staff at Charlestown are amazing! I was immediately embraced into the community and truly feel like I belong here. Parker says she is energized by the diversity of events that occur on any given day and says the biggest challenge has been remembering the names of the 1,200-plus employees and 2,300 residents who live at the community. For the first few weeks, I focused on being out and about around the community, trying to meet as many new residents and staff as I could, says Parker. My days have been filled with town hall meetings, resident advisory council meetings, board meetings, and leadership team meetings. It didn t take long to discover that the department I came from is significantly small in comparison to the size of Charlestown itself.

Defining moment

Parker earned her B.S. degree in finance and economics from Towson University and her M.B.A. from Loyola College in Maryland. She served as senior director of finance for the American Red Cross at its national headquarters in Washington, D.C., prior to joining the Erickson Living family an experience, she says, that shaped her leadership style. The nature of my work at the Red Cross required me to always be alert and ready for the next big thing, says Parker. I was working at the Red Cross just a half mile from the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. That was a defining moment for me. It made me focus on the importance of providing a nurturing and caring culture. Parker, along with her husband of 20 years, resides in Severna Park, Md. She loves to read, practices yoga, and enjoys boating and scuba diving every chance she gets. She recently became a grandmother. And what inspires her most? The Charlestown residents and their zest for life. They take advantage of every opportunity to add more living to their lives, says Parker. We have over 300 resident-run groups here at Charlestown. Everyone is involved in something. There is a genuine feeling of joy that permeates the campus. I can t think of any place I d rather be!