"The highest stewardship responsibility we had to The Reutlinger Community was to find the most qualified and warm person to lead the community into the future with a commitment to support Jewish values and traditions, while also providing operational expertise and quality care for the residents. In Clara Allen, we have found that person," said Todd Murch, CEO of Eskaton.
Allen replaces the community's former leader, Jay Zimmer.
She was most recently the executive director of Friends House, a nonprofit Quaker-inspired Continuing Care Retirement Community in Santa Rosa, and prior to that was the assistant executive director of San Francisco Towers, a life plan community in San Francisco, according to Reutlinger officials.
A licensed nursing home administrator, certified therapeutic recreation specialist and Residential Care Facility for the Elderly Certificate recipient, Allen will be bringing a wide range of experience at a variety of levels to the community, officials said.
"She has acted as a support group facilitator for the Alzheimer's Association, participated with the California Culture Change Coalition as a member of the teaching team, and was a keynote speaker at the Northern California Council of Activity Coordinators conference in 2015," Reutlinger staff said in a statement.
She began her career in senior services as a recreation therapist and activities coordinator for an adult day care provider in northern Virginia, where she "obtained considerable, valuable insight into the needs and preferences of older adults, inspiring her to take a holistic approach to providing care and services," according to Reutlinger staff.
After working in that capacity for a decade, Allen transitioned to administration 15 years ago, stepping into a leadership role that eventually led her to Danville. Additional experience includes being a volunteer on the San Francisco Institute on Aging's Friendship Line -- a 24-hour crisis line -- and acting as an incident commander for her community during the wildfires that disrupted life in Santa Rosa in September 2020.
She has a Bachelor of Education in therapeutic recreation from the University of Toledo, and a Master of Arts in gerontology from San Francisco State University.
A current resident of the Petaluma area, Allen said she enjoys exploring nature and hiking around the Bay Area and Sonoma County. An avid open-water swimmer, she plans to participate in this year's Alcatraz swim -- the second time she will be participating in the event.
"She believes one of the more important aspects of her role as the executive director of The Reutlinger Community is to provide her employees with thoughtful, educated mentorship, by identifying their strengths and helping them to discover what makes them passionate about working with older adults," officials said. "She considers herself to be a 'servant leader,' and that providing a stable, steady presence during times of difficulty is a vital component of her position."
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