Foundations of Supervision Program Builds Leadership Pipeline

Oct. 26, 2016—Identifying high-potential staff and cultivating them for leadership can be a competitive advantage for organizations, reducing turnover and creating conditions for optimal performance. Kendal at Ithaca’s investment in systemwide staff development programs is paying off during a time of continuous organizational change.

In the past two years, Kendal at Ithaca’s Management Team has seen more change than in the decade preceding them. Retirements, promotions and the closing of the Home Care department have coincided with a $40 million repositioning project that has significantly accelerated the pace of change. With departments hiring new staff to handle the expansion, ensuring the stability of Kendal culture’s deep roots has become a priority.

Fortunately, the Foundations of Supervision program has nourished those deep roots over the past six years. The 13-module blended learning program, developed by human resources staff across the affiliates, orients new managers to the Kendal management philosophy and prepares high-potential staff for leadership roles.

When Kendal at Ithaca launched Foundations of Supervision, Health Care Dining Manager Betty McGrew quickly recognized how it could improve teamwork in her department. She sent more staff over the years than any other manager before she retired in August. Some have gone on to take full-time positions in other departments; others have taken on more responsibility within the dining department.

Health Care Dining Manager Betty McGrew at her recent retirement party with former employee Derek Peppin, now Maintenance Manager.
Health Care Dining Manager Betty McGrew at her recent retirement party with former employee Derek Peppin, now Maintenance Manager.

One dining staff member has risen to the ranks of department manager. Derek Peppin began his Kendal career as a health care dining attendant. One year later, he landed a full-time position as a Maintenance Worker, then quickly earned a promotion to Mechanic. Seeing Derek’s potential, his supervisor, Maintenance Manager Chris Carlisle, enrolled him in the Foundations of Supervision program. Derek believes his status as a Foundations graduate gave the Facility Services Director confidence that Derek could step into the Maintenance Manager position after Chris’s untimely death. Residents and staff benefited from the smooth transition, and the organization was spared an expensive, time-consuming search.

Carolyn Canto, who completed the class while working as Director of Home Care, has now transitioned to Vitalize 360 Program Supervisor. Carolyn had the sobering responsibility of closing the Home Care department and helping her staff transition to other positions at Kendal or elsewhere. No matter how financially necessary, or how diligent those efforts, this kind of change is never easy, and was unprecedented in the organization. At a going away party, Carolyn’s staff recognized her leadership with a plaque thanking her for her mentoring and encouragement. Carolyn was moved by this unexpected recognition of her efforts. “I credit the Foundations of Supervision program for helping me build the skills to lead this team,” she said.

The Home Care staff recognized manager Carolyn Canto for her leadership.
The Home Care staff recognized manager Carolyn Canto for her leadership.

After completing the program in 2014, Carolyn decided to enroll Dave Teeter, then working as a Certified Nursing Assistant/Home Health Aide, in Foundations of Supervision. Less than a year after graduating, as the Home Care department was closing, Dave transitioned to a full-time position as a Maintenance Worker, saving his new manager valuable time. The Kendal community also benefits from this continuity, as Dave can continue to build on the excellent relationships with residents and staff he established in his earlier role.

Some graduates leave Kendal, then return to similar positions or to take promotions, citing staff development opportunities and Kendal’s culture as the draw. Some stay and continue to grow. Joan Marie Cassaniti worked as a Registered Nurse for more than a decade; after completing Foundations of Supervision, she was promoted to manage the Enhanced Assisted Living Residence. Similarly, Frank Mix was promoted from Inservice Nurse to Nurse Manager of Residents’ Care, and is currently enrolled in the Leadership Fellows Program. Information Technology Network Administrator Kelley Campbell completed the course before her department expanding to include an employee she now supervises. Housekeeper Sarah Crawford completed the course as she transitioned to the Laundry Coordinator position opening because of retirement.

Developing valued staff to take leadership roles is paying off in lower turnover costs, high scores on staff satisfaction surveys, and a degree of ease for residents and staff riding the whitewater of change.


  • To enhance the quality of life and vitality of those we serve.
  • To promote an environment of continuing learning.
  • To foster a high quality work experience for staff.
  • To strive for excellence in management and governance.
  • To continue to grow by engaging in ongoing evaluation and staff development.