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Roberts named executive director of the year

Colleagues who operate senior living communities describe Susan Roberts as relentless.

The 60-year-old’s determination to provide others with the best care earned her the honor of 2018 Executive Director of the Year in the southern Indiana region of Enlivant, the senior living organization that owns Walker Place Assisted Living.

“There were several who go above and beyond,” said Roberts. “There were 12 of us who could have been awarded the honor. I was extremely humbled.”

The award presentation was part of the two-and-a-half day annual conference held recently in French Lick, Indiana, that Roberts said included team building events, meetings, and presentations about the future outlook of the Enlivant company – where it is headed, the vision for the future, and reinforcing the future.

“You work, you do your job, and it feels good,” she said.

Roberts has lived in Shelby County for eight years. She manages every aspect of the Walker Place community and has since she was hired in the fall of 2015 as the executive director of the North Riley Highway community.

A couple of years ago, she became a certified director of assisted living through the Senior Living Certification Commission. She now trains others to get the licensure to oversee operations in assisted living facilities for senior citizens.

According to Roberts, her boss, Nate Gruber, who serves as the regional director of operations of Enlivant facilities in southern Indiana, presented the award using these words: “There’s nobody harder on you than you. The word I use to describe this woman is relentless.”

For about four months this past year, Roberts said she co-operated the Christina Place community in Franklin along with Walker Place.

“But, there were several of us running two facilities,” she said, shifting the spotlight away from herself. She did the same a couple of years ago when Walker Place was named “The Community of the Year” for the Southern Indiana Region.

“It was more important for me to bring the award home for my team,” she said.

The same holds true for the award she just received. Roberts repeatedly gave praise to her employees and to the residents.

“I love this place. I love the residents, and I love my employees,” she said. “It is so important to thank and praise your employees. We care about each other. We help and support each other. We genuinely like each other.”

She likened her professional life to a family that she has been providing care to for some time. In fact, she said for almost four years she has been forming, storming, and norming.

“You have to form a team first. Then, who’s going to get us there. That’s storming,” she said. “Norming then is where things are finally normal.”

That normal, said Roberts, is based on the Enlivant core values of compassion, humility, integrity, excellence and fun.

As she slowly relaxed to gently rest her back into a chair, Roberts said with calmness in her voice, “I needed this (award). Someone told me once: ‘You take out and take out of your bucket for others. You’ve got to be so careful not to end up with an empty bucket. You have to have someone put back into your bucket.’ ... My bucket is full.”

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