Growth Story – Executive Director
I have learned and grown so much by watching the leaders in this company and how they handle situations. I’ve learned a lot about leadership and management. How they talk with people, how they value people. I’ve learned that it’s a people first business and everybody matters, and that’s just from observing my leaders.
A Northbridge Career Growth Story
Meet Tracy Hoppe
At Northbridge we are proud to foster a culture of opportunity and growth for our associates as they learn about life in the community, working with our residents and about the senior living industry. Many of our associates have been able to thrive and grow with us and we are excited to share their stories with you!
Years at Northbridge: 5 years
First job at Northbridge: Resident Care Director
Current job: Executive Director
Community: Sunnybrook Senior Living
Her story of growth:
- How long have you worked at Northbridge?
I have been with Northbridge a little over 5 years. I started in January of 2017 as the Resident Care Director at Stroudwater Lodge and in 2021 I took the position of Resident Care Director at our sister community, Avita of Stroudwater. During my time at Avita I was able to get my Executive Director license and in June of 2021 I was offered the position of Executive Director at Sunnybrook. It was always a long term goal of mine to get my Executive Director license. I was completing the application process prior to COVID. As a Resident Care Director during COVID there was no time to complete the process. It sat on the back burner for two years because I had to be 100% in the nursing mindset all the time with COVID. In 2021 when the dust settled a little bit I was able to bring the application back to the fore front and take the course.
- What made you want to grow into an Executive Director?
One really big thing for me and the reason I went into nursing in 2012 was I really wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. That was always a goal of mine and I definitely found that niche being a Resident Care Director. Being able to make that difference for someone can look like a lot of things, sometimes it’s just sitting with someone, other times it’s chatting with them and sharing a story. Growing into the Executive Director role, it gives me more of an opportunity to make that difference not only just in the nursing world but in everyday life.
- What have you learned as you’ve grown in your career at Northbridge?
I have learned and grown so much by watching the leaders in this company and how they handle situations. I’ve learned a lot about leadership and management. How they talk with people, how they value people. I’ve learned that it’s a people first business and everybody matters, and that’s just from observing my leaders. I’ve also learned work/life balance. I’m a little guilty of being something of a workaholic, the people around me will remind me to take a break, and put myself and my family first. As Northbridge President and Co-Founder Wendy Nowokunski says so perfectly, fill you cup so you can fill everybody else’s . Another person I was able to learn so much from was Courtney Freeman, she was my Executive Director when I was hired at Stroudwater Lodge and has grown herself to become Regional Director of Operations in the North. I feel like working with Courtney I learned so much by just watching her. It was never rule with and iron fist it was always gentle guidance but at the end of the day it was my department and my decision she really gave us that autonomy. You just watch her and you learn.
- What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Definitely the residents. Number one, just the smile on their face, being able to make a difference, being able to talk with them and make their day better. I love working with people and being around our residents, families and associates is great because I get to make an impact in someone’s day. I also enjoy helping families feel good about the choices that they make. As Senior Living professionals, we deal with resident transition and cognitive and health decline on a daily basis so it’s not as jarring for us to witness. Remembering that this is the first time that a family is dealing with it is so important and to be able to help them through that process is pretty special.
- What would you say to someone who is thinking of starting a job at Northbridge?
Definitely, 100 percent do it! I have found that their are so many opportunities to learn and grow within this company. If you get into nursing and it’s not for you, you can move to a different department. If you communicate with your leaders that you’re really interested in learning more about a certain topic or department, they’re going to help you get the tools that you need to get there. Even if it’s not within their department, they’ll connect you with the right person to help you grow.
From a nursing standpoint, I feel that it’s such a great opportunity for someone who wants to get into healthcare. Going to nursing school is very expensive. At Northbridge you can start as a PSS and the company pays for you to get your certification, if your interested the company will pay for you to get your med-tech and there is also tuition reimbursement. They can help you find the nursing programs out there if that’s what your interested in. There are so many great opportunities within Northbridge. All you need to do is start and and find out what your interested in and grow into that position.
- What differentiates Northbridge from other companies?
I would definitely say the difference is family. It’s a family feeling. I’ve worked in other facilities, I use the word facilities because they feel different then Northbridge communities. Where I worked previously felt very institutional and busy where Northbridge is truly a community, it’s family, it’s friends, it’s a home like feeling. That’s definitely a huge, huge difference. The other huge difference that I have found, especially transitioning into this role is the level of support. When I fist started as Resident Care Director, I leaned a lot on my Executive Director at the time for help with different things on an everyday community level. When I started as Executive Director I had to lean a lot on the Home Office team because my Regional, the lovely Courtney Freeman (who had also been promoted) was out on maternity leave. I had to lean on people at the Home Office. With other companies sometimes you feel like the Home Office is a world away. I found myself seeking out people that I just knew the name of to say ‘hey, I’m not sure if your the right person but I need help with this’ and they always got right back to me and helped me, even if they weren’t the right person. Everyone was just so helpful. To feel like everyone has your back, even if it’s someone who you’ve never reached out to before is amazing, you know that someone will always have your back if you are struggling. That is a huge differentiator with Northbridge compared to other companies I’ve worked for. Knowing that I always have that support.
- What have you learned in your new job since being promoted?
Time management, there a lot of times where the busy work has to be set aside because it’s people first, it’s a people business. Leadership, the team, supporting the team. You can’t do this alone, you have a team and they have your back as well and that’s really important.
Having worked in both Assisted Living and Memory Care I have a unique perspective when helping families through the transition of moving into Senior Living and it’s a job I find so rewarding. In Assisted Living you can have someone with cognitive decline but they do very well in the community atmosphere. If they develop dementia and the disease progresses they are going to be more successful in Memory Care and we know that because we do this everyday. Supporting the family through that is so rewarding. There’s a lot of education, support and tears together helping them go through that process and then making that transition to memory care. Having worked in both Assisted Living and Memory Care I can really speak to the difference of what Assisted Living has to offer for our residents and also speak to the benefits of a Memory Care community. Helping multiple families with that process and then seeing them a month later and hearing how blown away they are at how well their loved one is doing is amazing. They are just so thankful for the support because they were afraid of it, afraid to make that change.
Overall, I am just really thankful that I have had this opportunity with Northbridge. Prior to going to nursing school I started as a CNA, I then went to med nurse and then unit manager and I learned a lot along the way but I’m so thankful for the education and opportunities that Northbridge has given me. I feel really, really blessed.
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Working at a Northbridge senior living community
If you are considering a career in senior living, we hope you’ll consider one of our communities. Our team of associates makes a meaningful difference in the lives of our residents, every day. Because of that, we treat our team like family and we’re happy to offer:
- Competitive Pay
- Flexible Schedules
- Direct Deposit
- Vacation & Personal Days
- Paid Holidays & Sick Time
- Your Birthday Off
- Health Insurance to Qualified Associates
- 401k Company Match
- Tuition Reimbursement
- Ongoing Education
- Associate Appreciation
View our careers website today to view open positions, what a day working at Northbridge is like, and why our associates love to work here.
As a New England senior living company, we pride ourselves in being the local choice for families in need of assisted living or memory care. We look to our teams of associates to truly make our communities home for our residents. Whether that’s a helping hand or a moment to listen to a story, our associates are dedicated and compassionate. With 19 communities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, we hope you’ll find your home here too. If you already love what you do, and want to love where you work, apply now! We look forward to meeting you.