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Q&A with Lana Van Giesen

Highland Springs welcomes new director of resident life

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December 23rd, 2013
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Springs, the Erickson Living community in North Dallas, recently welcomed Lana Van Giesen as director of resident life. In her new position, Van Giesen oversees the departments of community resources, pastoral care, fitness, social work, and home health. 

The Tribune sat down with Van Giesen to learn more about her background, her impression of Highland Springs, and the most memorable moments from her first months on the job.

Q: Tell us about your background in the senior living industry.

A: I’ve been working in the senior living industry for more than 20 years. Most recently, I was the executive director of the Legacy at Willow Bend, a continuing care retirement community in North Dallas. Prior to that, I was the executive director at Town Village, and before that I was the director of independent living and assisted living at Signature Pointe on the Lake. 

Q: How did you get started in the industry?

A: My husband Duane is a United Methodist minister, so he was transferred to a new church every four years or so. He would often take me along on visitation, and that’s when I discovered a natural affinity for senior adults. We moved to St. Louis when Duane was appointed executive director of our United Methodist annual conference. I took that opportunity to enroll in graduate school at Webster University, where I earned my master’s degree in gerontology.

Q: When did you first learn of Highland Springs?

A: (laughing) Highland Springs was my biggest competitor when I was at Legacy, so I knew quite a bit about the community. Erickson Living has a great reputation in the industry. My first visit to Highland Springs confirmed that impression. Beyond the outstanding programming, it’s the friendliness of both residents and staff that sets Highland Springs apart.

Q: What factors led you to your new position?

A: I oversaw Legacy from construction to stabilization during the seven years I was there, and I was ready to take my career in a different direction. I wanted to do something a little more fun, a little more enriching. When I first started in this industry, I was the director of pastoral care at a retirement community affiliated with our church in St. Louis. I enjoyed working directly with the residents. When Tina Ricciardi, human resources director at Highland Springs, called to ask if I was interested in this new position, I felt like everything I loved was rolled into this job.

Q: Your first day on the job was August 5, 2013. What are your most memorable moments from the past five months?

A: I work with a great team of staff members who are committed to helping our residents live their lives to the fullest. It’s been invigorating to see the Erickson Living values of friendliness and compassion in action. I’ve also run into several residents I know from church. I saw them before they made the decision to move to Highland Springs, and I see them now that they’ve moved. It’s rewarding to find them so excited about their new lifestyle.

 

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