Country Meadows Retirement Communities and its nonprofit affiliate Ecumenical Retirement Community announced Monday that Meredith Mills has taken over the companies as president & CEO.
Mills is the granddaughter of former Pennsylvania Governor George Leader and Mary Jane Leader, who founded Country Meadows more than 50 years ago.
Mills moves into the role formerly held by Michael Leader, who, after more than 30 years leading the organization, has transitioned into a newly created position as executive chairman.
“I have every confidence in handing over our organization’s leadership to my niece. Meredith has been leading teams on campuses and at the home office for more than 11 years and did an outstanding job guiding us through the pandemic,” Leader said in a press release Monday.
Mills has held various positions at Country Meadows including marketing director, campus executive director, vice president of strategic planning and most recently chief operating officer. She has a master’s degree in health administration from Penn State University and an undergraduate degree from Franklin and Marshall College.
“I cannot express in words what an incredible honor it is to follow not only in the footsteps of my grandparents, parents, and uncles, but also in the footsteps of so many of the Country Meadows and Ecumenical ‘family members’ who have committed many years to our mission to serve seniors,” Mills said in the press release.
This year marks the 61st year of the Leader family’s involvement in the senior living industry, which began when George and Mary Jane Leader founded Leader Nursing and Rehabilitation in 1962.
Mills’ promotion transitions the family’s third generation into the top leadership role. A 2010 study found that 13% of family-owned businesses are passed down successfully to a third generation, according to Country Meadows.
“I was motivated to come back to Country Meadows by my grandfather’s request to see the third generation more involved, and was blessed to be able to spend a few years at Country Meadows while he was still with us,” Mills said in the release. “His strong commitment to innovation, integrity, and empowerment was impressed upon me during that time, and I am grateful for the opportunity to receive further mentorship from my uncles and father.”
Mills noted that as a privately owned company, Country Meadows Retirement Communities was fortunate in its ability to be flexible and take risks to do what was right at critical times during the pandemic.
“We kept focusing on doing the right thing and how could we do that no matter the cost. We’re independent enough that we could get around some of the red tape to do what’s right for seniors,” Mills said. “And that’s what’s exciting, because there are so many opportunities to fill these missing spots in the continuum of care. Our team worked so hard to bring together all the partners who couldn’t figure it out in their silos. The result is we saved lives.”
Leader said his part-time position as executive chairman allows him more time to spend with his family while building stronger connections with residents and co-workers.
He said his goal is to travel to at least one of the company’s 11 campuses every week to visit with residents, family members and co-workers, as well as finding more ways to support, train and retain co-workers.
Leader said he is honored to work alongside Mills.
“Meredith is passionate about senior care and assures me that she will work her hardest to serve our customers, support our co-workers and strengthen our organization in a way that upholds our family’s promise to care for our seniors,” Leader said.
Country Meadows operates 10 retirement communities, including Country Meadows of Wyomissing, Berks County.