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Seasoned professional

Meet Seabrook’s new executive director

Created date

February 20th, 2018
Paula Digerness assumed the role of executive director at Seabrook. She’s lived all over, including rural Iowa, Southern California, and now New Jersey, where she’s passionate about making a positive difference in people’s lives.

Paula Digerness assumed the role of executive director at Seabrook. 

 

Paula Digerness may be new to the role of executive director, but she’s not new to Seabrook. And if you haven’t met her yet, you’re going to want to get to know her. She’s committed, kind, and says she’s a little quirky—endearing qualities shaped by a variety of life experiences around the country.

Digerness served as associate executive director (AED) for two years under Todd DeLaney at the Tinton Falls, N.J., Erickson Living community. She assumed the leadership role in October when DeLaney took the executive director position at Cedar Crest, Seabrook’s sister community in Pompton Plains.

A resident of Brick, Digerness brings more than 20 years of experience in senior living and business management to her new position. Before coming to Seabrook in 2015, she served as executive director and administrator of a continuing care retirement community in Bradbury, Calif. Digerness received a master’s degree in long-term care administration from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University.

In her new role, Digerness oversees daily operations at the 98-acre community that was named one of NJBiz’s “2017 Best Places to Work in New Jersey.”

“We are thrilled to have Paula lead the team at Seabrook,” says Erickson Living Vice President of Regional Operations Chris Emmett. “Paula’s proven leadership, business acumen, wealth of senior housing experience, as well as her commitment to delivering quality resident services, will play a key role in helping Seabrook remain a leader in the senior marketplace in New Jersey.”

Let’s get to know Digerness a little more personally.

Tribune: How have you managed the transition from associate executive director to executive director—such as questions, concerns, or suggestions from residents—to make it a positive experience for everyone?  

Digerness: I am very fortunate in that I have been in the AED role here at Seabrook for almost two years. This has helped tremendously in making the transition as seamless as possible as I have been involved in our everyday operations for quite a while. This training time has allowed me to learn our multiple business lines, understand our community, navigate our enterprise support structure, and build relationships both locally and with our corporate partners.

Tribune: What do you find most rewarding about working in this industry?  

Digerness: This industry gives you the opportunity to help people live better lives. It involves not just our residents; it is also about our resident families, friends, employees, and surrounding community. Our mission statement is to share our gifts to create communities that celebrate life. What more could you ask for in a job than to be a positive difference for others? We can give the gift of kindness with each interaction we have.  

Tribune: What are your long-term goals as executive director at Seabrook? 

Digerness: To create a financially and operationally strong, sustainable community that inspires every resident and employee to share their gifts, celebrate life, and achieve their fullest potential.  

Tribune: Could you share some short-term goals or some things we can expect to happen at Seabrook within the next year? 

Digerness: This will be a very busy year. First, we are celebrating our twentieth anniversary. We have events planned every month and a fantastic gala on November 10. We are also starting several projects in our long-range strategic plan, including an expansion of our fitness center, adding another restaurant to our Town Square Clubhouse, and improvements to our Great Lawn.

Tribune: In your opinion, what makes Seabrook so special? 

Digerness: The people. Our residents come to Seabrook with a tapestry of backgrounds, experiences, and personalities that contribute to a vibrant and engaging community. Our staff also brings their gifts and talents to support our community culture.

Tribune: What are some of your favorite annual local events—both within and outside of Seabrook? 

Digerness: Outside of Seabrook I enjoy the Shore, running on the boardwalk through Asbury, Belmar, and Spring Lake. Inside, among my favorites include our spiritual life events, our Seabrook Performers shows, holiday events, employee talent show, and our Seabrook Scholars graduation events.

Tribune: Seabrook is a place where residents are typically proud of their heritage, and there are even heritage and genealogy groups. What’s your family heritage?   

Digerness: My grandparents on both sides are from Germany, with some Irish and French thrown in for good measure.

Tribune: What do you like to do when you’re not wearing your executive director hat? 

Digerness: Running. I love to run marathons and half marathons. I’ve completed 20 marathons and over 35 half marathons. My bucket list includes running a marathon on every continent.

Tribune: What’s your family like?

Digerness: I have two kids. My daughter is a freshman at UCLA, and my son lives in Lexington, Ky. I enjoy spending time with them when we can all get together. My husband is a Realtor in Spring Lake. We enjoy spending time looking for houses to buy and remodel—even though we actually haven’t bought a house and remodeled yet—and going to estate sales.

 

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