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Category: Kavod Connections

Ovation Communities Public Relations Manager: Get to Know Ryan Berlin

Ovation Communities is thrilled to welcome Ryan Berlin to the team. Ryan joined Ovation in January 2021.

Having a passion for people and storytelling, Ryan Berlin, Ovation Communities new Public Relations Manager, knew immediately that Ovation Communities was the place for him.

After moving to Milwaukee in 2016 with his wife Adrienne, Ryan knew that he wanted to expand on his career. A journalist by trade, Ryan graduated from Central Michigan University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism.

“When we moved to Milwaukee, I was looking for something more career wise,” Ryan said. “I had worked as a writer, journalist and magazine editor. I knew I was looking to take the skillset I already had and add to it.”

Ryan, his wife Adrienne, brother Stu, and children Maxine and Eli, enjoy their annual trip to Sobelman’s for Maxine’s fourth birthday.

Ryan, his wife Adrienne, brother Stu, and children Maxine and Eli, enjoy their annual trip to Sobelman’s for Maxine’s fourth birthday.

Post-graduation, Ryan kicked off his career in journalism working at a small-town newspaper in Mount Pleasant, Mich. While working as a journalist Ryan was exposed to the public relations side of communications and decided to pursue it as a career.

After making the switch to PR, Ryan worked for two years as the communications director for the American Power Boat Association before being promoted to the director of operations.

While working as a writer for a trade magazine in Milwaukee, Ryan went back to school to get a master’s degree in public relations from Kent State University.

“When I got my master’s degree, I bounced around a little bit professionally,” Ryan said. “It took me some time to find my niche within public relations. I worked for a couple of different agencies and agency life just wasn’t for me. I wanted to work directly with people, working toward a specific mission and Ovation has given me the opportunity to do that.

“My favorite part about working in public relations is being able to tell a story through an organization’s mission, vision and core values,” Ryan continued. “I believe this positively impacts both the residents and the community as a whole.”

Ryan, and his wife Adrienne attended Wrestlemania 32 and Wrestlemania Axxess on their honeymoon in Dallas, Texas.

Ryan is a one-person department at Ovation, and his role focuses on promoting all aspects of the organization. This includes managing digital and print advertising and developing different campaigns that align with Ovation’s overall mission.

Some of Ryan’s main duties include working with and engaging residents, overseeing external communications, managing and updating social media platforms, producing content for the quarterly newsletter and updating the website.

“Jumping into this position and getting to talk with residents and listen to their needs and telling their stories has been one of my favorite aspects of the job,” Ryan said. “I love engaging with the
residents and the rest of the team, it feels great to be part of a community both here at Ovation and in Milwaukee.”

One of Ryan’s main goals for the future is expanding Ovation’s social media presence. He wants to highlight the activities, events and living that goes on at Ovation. He would also love to see Ovation’s social media presence expand to platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

While serving the Ovation community Ryan plans on continuing to position the organization as an industry leader in assisted and senior living.

“I want to break the stigma of senior living facilities being referred to as a ‘home.’ Ovation isn’t just residents sitting around, there is so much life here that I want to showcase and highlight,”

Ryan said. “I want to show the community what life is really like here and the care and expertise that Ovation has to offer.”

Teen Ovation Board Wins Jewish Programming Award, Blueprint For Facilities Worldwide

In the midst of the pandemic, and faced with a lack of intergenerational engagement with our elders, the Jewish Home and Care Center, under the guidance of VP of Development, Tanya Mazor-Posner, created a new teen led organizational board, Teen Ovation.

Designed to teach leadership and career skills, while fostering relationships with residents and other teens by participating in discussions and activities, the board has been awarded the Association of Jewish Aging Services Jewish Programming award.

“I’m so proud that we won the Jewish programming Award from the Association of Jewish Aging Services at its most recent National Conference,” Mazor-Posner said. “Teen Ovation has been recognized as a model for other organizations to follow.”

“I love that we finally have a teen leadership group that really works in tandem with our older adults and our community,” Mazor-Posner continued. “Our board is about getting teens together whether they are Jewish or not. Our teens come from different schools, different walks of life, have different backgrounds, and different experiences. Teens of all faiths and backgrounds ranging in age from 13 to 19 are eligible to apply.”

Just one year after its creation, Teen Ovation’s impact has been felt not just at Ovation Communities, but throughout greater Milwaukee.

New co-presidents, Eliana Tabak (sophomore at Nicolet High School), Maddie Weber (senior at Homestead High School), and Joey Arnstein (8th grader at Bayside Middle School), are looking to expand on Teen Ovation’s presence within the community.

“I think that under leadership from a teenager, this can become more widespread and reach other teens,” Tabak said. “I hope that under my leadership Teen Ovation can be a model for other facilities, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in its ways of connection and intergenerational learning.

“We hope that soon we can begin to organize more community projects and hold larger-scale events with the residents,” Tabak continued, “My goal is to get as many actively involved members to continue the legacy of Teen Ovation.”

Gathering monthly, Teen Ovation board members participate in various social, mitzvah, and intergenerational activities such as, a summer picnic where the teens made garden decorations to add to one Ovation’s outdoor resident garden, safe in-person gathering with Ovation residents, and making hand-made Rosh HaShanah cards for each resident.

In addition to building friendships, Teen Ovation is designed to help teens learn communication and leadership skills, while also participating in fundraising activities and sensitivity training in volunteering with older adults.

“I think it’s so important to hear from everyone on their opinions and lives,” Weber said. “I hope to learn the life skill of communication. Not everyone communicates in the same way or has the same ideas, but I want to be able to hear out every idea I can on any topic or situation.”

“You never know where the next good idea is going to come from, and I think we underestimate the power of a good conversation with a wiser person.”

If you or any teen you know is interested in joining the Ovation Communities Teen Ovation board, please contact Tanya Mazor-Posner at [email protected], or call 414-721-9260.

Ovation’s Healthcare Team Supports Community’s Needs From Medicine to Daily Life

Medical directors Dr. Raul Mateo and Dr. Nancy Reeder are a critical part of Ovation Jewish Home’s interdisciplinary medical care team, working alongside with the nursing department, led by Director of Nursing Laura Bauer. We recently sat down with Dr. Mateo and Dr. Reeder to learn more about what makes this partnership so successful.

Q: How is Ovation’s medical team structured to support resident care?

Dr. Mateo: Our responsibility as medical directors is to oversee and implement the high quality of care that is needed at a senior living community like Ovation. It really goes far beyond the two of us and takes the entire nursing team to complement and fulfill what we do. We wouldn’t be able to do it without Laura and the rest of the nursing team.

Q: How did you get started in this profession and what brought you to Ovation?

Dr. Mateo: I started my career in family medicine and quickly fell in love with geriatrics and pursued it as a specialty. Nita Corre asked me to fill in temporarily at the Jewish Home when the last medical director retired, and I’ve stayed for 30 years! I immediately felt part of the community and loved the way it ran; I just never left.

Dr. Reeder: My background is in internal medicine and my interest in geriatrics was sparked when a friend and I cared for a 92-year-old neighbor. I realized that at any age, if you get the right support from your medical team and community, you can have a good life. Dr. Mateo and I became acquainted through Milwaukee’s medical community and several professional groups. I’ve always looked up to him as a mentor, and I’ve enjoyed working alongside him as part of Ovation’s team for the past 15 years.

Q: It’s unique to have two medical directors on staff. Tell us a bit about that.

Drs. Mateo and Reeder: We’re both certified medical directors, which is rare in the field, and actively involved with the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. We’re lucky to be able to work together to support each other and Ovation’s residents.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working with Ovation?

Dr. Mateo: The satisfaction I get from caring for the residents. You really get to know them, and they become part of your family and part of your life. Just spending time listening or having dinner together sometimes does more for a person’s overall wellbeing than any medicine I could prescribe. It gives me a real sense of happiness. Also knowing the staff are so united, work so well together and support each other is very satisfying. Every time I leave Ovation I feel like a part of me stays behind.

Dr. Reeder: Walking into Ovation is just like coming home. Engaging with residents and hearing about their days and their lives adds a whole other dimension. I’m always struck by Ovation as being the most enjoyable place to do what I’m doing. Everyone on the team strives to do their very best and I’m always confident the residents are well cared for.

From The Holocaust to Outer Space: The Story of Ilan Ramon

Born in 1954 to Holocaust survivors Eliezer and Tonya Wolfferman, Ilan Ramon grew up to become Israel’s first astronaut. On Sunday, May 8, 2022, Holocaust educator David Bitan shared the inspiring story of Ramon’s family ties to the Holocaust and his journey to outer space.

“When we’re talking about the Jewish people and the establishment of Israel,” Bitan said, “the story of the Ramon family beautifully describes the connection between the Holocaust disaster and this unbelievable achievement of being the first Israeli in space.”

Inspired by his family’s survival of the Holocaust, especially his mother’s survival of Auschwitz, Ramon joined the Israel Air Force (IAF) and accumulated thousands of hours of flight time. He was the youngest fighter pilot to participate in the 1981 bombing operation of Iraqi nuclear facilities and worked his way up to the rank of Colonel by 1994.

In 1997 NASA was preparing a flight crew for the Space Shuttle Colombia, due to his flight experience and the recommendation of his superiors, Ramon was selected to join the crew. As a Payload Specialist for the crew of seven and their research and experiment mission, Ramon and the Space Shuttle Columbia launched on January 16, 2003.

“Spending 15 days in Space, Ramon honored his heritage and religion by observing the Sabbath and requesting Kosher food for the mission,” Bitan said. “In addition, Ramon brought with him an Israeli flag, a copy of the Israel Declaration of Independence, the Torah, and maybe most symbolically a picture drawn by Petr Ginz who perished in the Holocaust.”

“Petr Gintz was deported to Auschwitz where he was eventually killed, but his drawing survived,” Bitan continued. “Imagine at 14-years-old, a little boy drawing earth from the moon, and who is going to fulfill this vision? This unbelievable dream? This is how influenced by the Holocaust Ilan Ramon was and how important it was for him to represent the Jewish and Israeli people as the first Israeli astronaut.”

After 15 days, 22 hours, 20 minutes and 32 seconds in space, Space Shuttle Columbia began to prepare for reentry. Upon reentry, on February 1, Columbia suffered catastrophic damage and exploded just 39 miles from landing at Kennedy Space Center. There were no survivors.

According to an official investigation, it was determined that upon launch the space shuttle orbiter’s left wing was damaged when part of the polyurethane foam insulation on the external tank broke off. The heat shield was compromised due to damage sustained during the initial ascent. The heat of reentry was free to spread into the damaged portion of the orbiter.

Posthumously, Ramon was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush in 2004.

“This is one of the things that represents the achievements of Ilan Ramon as a great leader for the Jewish People and the State of Israel,” Bitan said. “As the only foreigner ever to get this award from the President of the United States, is an unbelievable honor.”

Through his family and his achievements, Ilan Ramon’s legacy continues to strengthen and grow. Prior to her death in 2018, Rona Ramon set up and organized the Ramon Foundation, in honor of her husband and son, Asaf.

“Asaf was following in his father’s footsteps and was often recognized as one of the best young pilots in the IAF,” Bitan said. “At 21 years-old and six years after the death of his father, during a training exercise, Asaf tragically lost his life.”

According to the Ramon Foundation website, “Based on the educational paradigm of Ilan and Asaf Ramon, we have built an impressive network of educators who work from the Upper Galilee to the Southern Negev in Israel. This combination of incredible leaders work to inspire and educate young adults and students alike.”

Ovation Communities Recognized For Partnership with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

In August of 2014, Ovation Communities partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing in an effort to improve the quality of life, human dignity, and healthcare outcomes for residents and older adults worldwide. Now, In recognition of eight years of research and collaboration, Ovation Communities has been awarded the UWM College of Nursing Community Partnership Award.

“Beginning with Dr. Christine Kovach, and now with Dr. Maurad Taani, the research we have been able to help facilitate has been inspiring,” said Ovation Communities President and CEO Michael Sattell. “We are honored to be able to contribute to the betterment of our community and for seniors in long-term care facilities around the world.”

The Community Partnership Award recognizes individuals or organizations who have been engaged in collaborative activities to address community needs and health issues in society.

Submitted for the award by Dr. Taani, said the criteria consists of three main objectives. “The first is demonstrating sustained partnership and meaningful contributions in collaboration with the college of nursing at UWM,” Dr. Taani said. “Second is to demonstrate creative approaches to building partnerships with the College of Nursing at UWM. Lastly, we had to showcase collaborative partnership activities which assist in fulfilling the mission of the college of Nursing at UWM which benefits the broader community.”

Funded by a grant from the Jewish Home and Care Center, research has primarily focused on alleviating the range of human suffering that comes in the context of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Retiring in 2020, Dr. Kovach was succeeded by Dr. Taani, whose research focuses primarily on improving lung health, strengthening respiratory muscles, and increasing physical ability in older adults.

“I was mentored by Dr. Kovach over the years,” Dr. Taani said. “When the opportunity arose to build on the work she had done at Ovation Communities, I jumped at the chance.

“The partnership provides the necessary resources, facility, and access to residents, that fosters and helps promote research and improve health outcomes and quality of life in older adults,” Taani said. “It’s a win-win for everybody; for residents, students, researchers, UWM, and Ovation Communities. I can’t thank Ovation Communities enough for this partnership and collaboration. We are working to keep this going for the foreseeable future.”

A Message From the CEO

In this issue of Kavod Connections we are proud to introduce you to Teen Ovation, an initiative recently chosen by the Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS) for a distinguished Jewish Programming Award. We are so proud of this recognition and the great honor to be able to share it with Jewish senior living communities around the world.

AJAS, founded in 1960, serves as a meeting place for innovation and thought leadership to drive outstanding mission based elder services. Ovation Communities has a long history of active participation in AJAS, with Nita Corré having served as its Chairperson, and I currently serve as Treasurer.

Through our involvement we are one of over 100 organizations, worldwide, committed to sharing best practices to assist each member community to excel. Our Jewish programming award, our second in five years following Rabbi Steven Adams Holocaust Survivors’ Seder, recognizes innovative programming that can be easily replicated by other AJAS members.

Please read further, here Teen Ovation Board Wins Jewish Programming Award, Blueprint For Facilities Worldwide – Ovation Communities, about what inspired Tanya Mazor-Posner, our Vice President of Development, to launch this amazing program.

Donor List – Spring 2022


Partnership with University Trains Next Generation of Health Care Administrators

Originally from Sun Prairie, Wis., and attending University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Ally Thiel knew she wanted to work in the health care industry.

“Originally when I got to Eau Claire, I was a nursing major,” Thiel said. “I was also working as a CNA, and after about a year, I realized that nursing wasn’t for me.

I wanted to work more on the business side of health care.

“I had a friend in the Healthcare Administration Program, and she highly recommended it,” Thiel continued. “I looked into that, and I liked that it was a combination of the medical side of things, but also the business side of things, so I joined the program and changed my major.”

As part of the UW–Eau Claire Healthcare Administration program, students are required to participate in a 50-week administrative residency.

Interviewing at several facilities, including ones in Iowa and Minnesota, Thiel knew Ovation Communities was exactly where she wanted to be. Working directly with Katie Quintanilla, Jewish Home Administrator, Thiel has been able to experience every facet of senior living.

“When I interviewed with Katie, I knew this was my number one choice,” Thiel said. “I have really enjoyed it here and learning from everyone.”

Running from June 2021 through May 2022, Thiel takes her turn working with every department from nursing to admissions, marketing, and dining, learning how each department operates.

While she has, and is spearheading several projects, including a resident snack program, a falls prevention program, a school supply collection drive, and Teen Ovation, the most exciting and important part of the residency for Thiel has been getting to know the residents.

“During my Activities Department rotation, I got the chance to play trivia with the residents, and it was incredible how they knew every answer,” Thiel said. “People don’t give seniors enough credit. They often think that seniors aren’t paying attention. Then you play a game of trivia with them, and you realize they know more than you do.”

Throughout the residency, Thiel has been able to gain valuable experience and leadership skills that will help guide her over the course of her career.

“This program is so important and valuable, not just for the student to gaining real-world experience and opportunities in the day-to-day operations of a facility,” Quintanilla said. “But also, for the facility, having fresh eyes and having another team member being part of quality improvement projects to enhance the daily lives of residents

“One of the best things about Ally is her initiative,” Quintanilla continued. “She’s not afraid to ask the right questions and she’ll follow through on her own. My hope is that Ally continues her career in health care. She is such an empathetic, caring, and intuitive person. That is such a value to health care.”

As she approaches her May graduation, Thiel doesn’t know what the future holds but she would never rule out a return to Ovation Communities.

“Trish Cohn always says, ‘all roads lead back to Ovation.’ So, we’ll see what my future holds.”

Introducing Dr. Taani, Ovation Communities’ Second Professor in Aging

Ovation Communities is excited to announce its new Professor in Aging, Dr. Murad Taani. This position is supported by the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation. Dr. Taani succeeds Dr. Christine Kovach who retired in 2020.

Question: Tell us a bit about your background.

Dr. Taani: I grew up in Jordan and earned my bachelor’s degree in nursing there in 2007. In 2010, I moved to the United States and subsequently completed my master’s in public health at New Mexico State University in 2014 and doctorate in nursing at UW-Milwaukee in 2017. During my graduate studies I also worked as a nurse in medsurg, oncology and critical care, and worked in research and as a teaching assistant. My current role is assistant professor in UWM’s College of Nursing, where I teach nursing students and conduct research around improving quality of life in older adults.

Q: Why did you decide on the career path you are on today?

DT: I have always been interested in science and research and had a desire to impact lives in positive ways. Nothing is as interesting and rewarding to me as helping older adults. I am also very passionate about conducting research, learning about the aging process, and promoting health in our older adult population.

Q: What research projects are you currently working on?

DT: Through a grant from Bader Philanthropies, we are in the first phase of a study on lung health. We are looking at ways to improve lung health, strengthen respiratory muscles, and increase physical ability in older adults. The team will be recruiting participants for the study in the next month or two, and the project is expected to take about two years to complete.

Q: What are you most excited about in your new role as Ovation’s next professor in aging?

DT: I want to thank Ovation Communities for this wonderful opportunity. It will allow me to focus on my passion of promoting health in aging adults. I work with many organizations and have never seen one as dedicated as Ovation is to helping people live longer, better, healthier lives. Together, I hope we can increase our research capabilities to continue to improve the health and wellbeing of Ovation’s residents, and older adults nationally and internationally.

Q: What trends in older adult wellness are important to pay attention to?

DT: There are a few areas that are especially important right now: improving physical performance and physical ability to keep people independent longer; addressing social isolation especially during the pandemic; and investigating causes and treatments for cognitive impairment.

Q: What are your initial impressions of Ovation Communities?

DT: I have found Ovation to be a place that truly cares about its residents. Everyone works seamlessly as a team and goes above and beyond to provide the best possible care in every aspect of daily life, not just health. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to work with them. Ovation is really an unbelievable, wonderful residential facility.

Live Classical Music Returning to Ovation

Ovation Communities is committed to providing high-quality programming for its residents. Thanks to a recent generous endowment gift to the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation, a new Chai Point Classical Music Fund has been established allowing for the return of live classical performances.

“We are beyond grateful for this gift and excited to see all the joy the Chai Point Classical Music Fund will bring to our residents, many of whom are classical music lovers,” said Tanya Mazor-Posner, Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation Vice President of Development. “Many of us haven’t been able to go out and hear live music over the past year, so we wanted to bring the music to Ovation.”

Classical music is often recognized for its calming effects and recent studies have found it can also positively enhance memory. The musical performances will be available to all residents through both in person and remote options.