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According to Her Team Featuring Jennifer Rannestad

Jennifer Rannestad portraitJennifer Rannestad
Executive Director
“I have had the pleasure of working for Jennifer for over 15 years. She has been a wonderful mentor and I have learned so much from her. I believe the longevity of the staff at Essex Meadows is a direct result of Jennifer’s leadership. She is truly one of a kind and will be greatly missed.”
Michelle Davis

Director of Human Resources
According to Her Team – Featuring Jennifer Rannestad
Written by Margaret Casey

“She is the best boss I ever had.” Several of the 12 Essex Meadows directors on Jennifer Rannestad’s team expressed similar sentiments. Some directors were interviewed for this article, and their quotes are included.

Jennifer has a talent for hiring strong, capable people who can operate on their own. She stands back and lets them be creative. She treats each director as an individual, bringing out strengths and helping to overcome weaknesses. She trains without criticizing. Jennifer is a great leader, not a micromanager. “She taught me so much” was heard throughout the interviews.

Jennifer welcomes staff members who come to her with a problem as well as their solution to it. They know they will not be fired if they talk with her. She is also willing to brainstorm new ideas and has an open-door policy for all employees. She treats everyone with respect, as all are important to the team.

Jennifer started an employee wellness program before it was popular. The annual staff retreats, held before COVID, consisted of sessions of education, guest lectures, team building, lunch, and leisure time. All employees attend one of the three days the retreat is held.

“Jennifer takes care of the staff; the staff takes care of the residents; and the bottom line takes care of itself.” After the staff spent a long day clearing snow from the grounds, Jennifer picked up a snow blower and cleared their cars so that they could go home on time. In an emergency Jennifer will sleep on a cot in her office so someone else can have the guest room.

When short-staffed, she helps fold laundry, delivers trays of food in the Health Center, uses her artistic talent to decorate gingerbread cookies, and washes cars to raise money for our scholarship fund. Since she is a lover of hot dogs, she lights up when planning the residents’ picnic and is beaming throughout the event.

Jennifer used to bring “Rookie,” her trained therapy dog, to work. One day Rookie was at the front desk, where he spied the receptionist’s open purse. He quickly grabbed her BLT sandwich. Since Rookie did not bite the person taking the sandwich out of his mouth, he was given the bacon. Jennifer laughed and continued on. This is also how she deals with mishaps among employees. They love that she is easygoing and does not get upset.

Several years ago, when Jennifer missed a directors’ meeting, her team decided to hold a charity benefit. They rented a “dunk tank.” Volunteers sat on a board inside a glass container. When a ball struck a target, the seat released and the volunteer fell into a tub of water. Most directors agreed to be the subjects. Employees and residents bought tickets to throw a ball at the target as each director took turns. Ever fun-loving, Jennifer joined the fray. However, Jennifer was so well liked that people were reluctant to use their tickets on her. Fortunately for the charity, the directors were enthusiastically soaked.

Competitive, Jennifer always wants Essex Meadows to be an industry leader in all categories. Examples include: solar panels, the LEED award for environmental excellence, high occupancy rates, employee longevity, and high resident satisfaction ratings. Jennifer continues to study and implement the best trends in finance to make sure Essex Meadows is well positioned for the future.

Joel Nelson, CEO of LCS, once said at a company meeting, “Jennifer represents what LCS is.” Her team will miss her.