Kathryn Robers Women In Business

Ecumen CEO Emeritus Kathryn Roberts Receives Top Career Achievement Award

Ecumen CEO Emeritus Kathryn Roberts received the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s 2019 Career Achievement Award at the 2019 Women in Business luncheon and expo May 23, 2019.

Kathryn accepted the award before the more than 900 attendees, saying, “I am especially proud to be rounding out my career at a time when so many more women – a room full of them here today – are leading, succeeding and, most importantly, making this world a better place – because we care deeply about what comes after us.”

The May 24 edition of the Business Journal featured Kathryn on the cover, and the newspaper produced a tribute video from her friends and colleagues talking about her stellar career. You can click on the video below, or go to this link.

Congratulations Kathryn, and thank you for your leadership at Ecumen!

Helen Kyle


Gift Officer

helenkyle@ecumen.org  651-766-4385

Helen Kyle joined the philanthropy team in June of 2016. In her time at Ecumen, she has supported the success of fundraising events, managed our donor database, and increased donations to Ecumen programs. In her current role as a Gift Officer, Helen works with Ecumen communities to support site-specific giving programs and events. She meets with Ecumen’s generous donors and invites them into continued partnership. Helen graduated cum laude from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. She has a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology with a concentration in Family Studies. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Tami Allenson


Director - Philanthropy Programs

Tami has been an employee with Ecumen for over 7 years. Her background is in Marketing and her current role as Director of Philanthropy Programs allows her to continue building relationships throughout the organization, and strong partnerships in the greater community on behalf of Ecumen. This includes hosting the annual golf tournament and partner events, in addition to working with our community leaders to identify and foster donors dedicated to furthering Ecumen’s mission. Tami studied Psychology and Business Administration at University of Minnesota – Duluth, and Organizational Leadership at Bethel College. She lives with her husband and daughter in Ramsey, MN.

Heidi Freisinger


Vice President of Philanthropy

Heidi Freisinger leads Ecumen’s philanthropic fundraising efforts through major and planned gifts, foundation and corporate giving, government grants and special events. She joined Ecumen in 2019 from the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, where she was Senior Director of Annual Giving. Heidi began her career at the YMCA and held several key jobs, including Director of Events Planning and Business Manager. She has a B.S. degree in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota and brings over 15 years of fundraising experience to Ecumen.

Melanie Sullivan

Melanie Sullivan To Join Ecumen as Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer

Melanie (Mel) Sullivan, Ed.D., has been named Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at Ecumen, effective April 1. 

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senior living operators button 2019

Ecumen Among Top 5 Senior Living Operators in the Twin Cities

Ecumen is recognized as one of Twin Cities' top five Largest Senior Living Operators by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. 


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Heidi Freisinger

Ecumen CEO Emeritus Kathryn Roberts Among McKnight's 2019 Women of Distinction Winners

Kathryn Roberts, Ecumen CEO Emeritus, has been recognized as a top leader in the field of long-term care and senior care. Roberts was named to the Hall of Honor in the nationwide 2019 McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards.

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Ecumen Receives Innovation Award for Its ‘Senior Care Excellence’ Training Programs

Ecumen has received a “Stars Among Us Innovation Award” from LeadingAge Minnesota for its Senior Care Excellence program designed to help reduce the shortage of long-term care nurses in rural Minnesota.

Ecumen’s Senior Care Excellence program provides enhanced training for nursing school faculty focused on older adult care. Ecumen partnered with nursing faculty statewide and with Minnesota State Mankato’s School of Nursing to design a workshop called “Senior Care Excellence: Enhancing Your Clinical Toolbox – Best Practices in Geriatric Care for Faculty in Transitional Care/Long Term Care.” The sessions, conducted by Minnesota State nursing faculty and Ecumen nursing staff in Mankato and Duluth, helped educators refresh their knowledge and skills in aging services and bring current best practices into their classrooms and classroom settings.

The workshops grew out of the Ecumen Scholars program, which provides fellowships, internships and clinical rotations at Ecumen sites to more than 500 students in the aging services field. With that experience, Ecumen learned from college faculty that more training was needed for instructors in long-term care. This desire came at a time when more and more nurses will have considerable interactions with seniors no matter where they work, due to the state’s rapidly-growing aging population.

Gayle Kvenvold, President and CEO, LeadingAge Minnesota, the state association of senior housing and services providers, presented Ecumen with the award at the association’s Institute and Expo in Saint Paul February 6. “The Innovation Award honors programs that transform and enhance the experience of aging,” she said. “With a rapidly growing aging population in Minnesota, Ecumen recognized a need to bring a more in-depth perspective of the aging services field into college nursing programs that have focused almost exclusively on acute care training. The Senior Care Excellence program is shaping the future of aging services by breaking down stereotypes, winning hearts and minds, and improving the quality and accessibility of care for Minnesota’s seniors across the state.”

“Much of the growth in nursing jobs will be outside the hospital setting due to changing demographics and economic realities of healthcare delivery,” said Brett Anderson, Ecumen Vice President of Nursing. “Positive experiences during clinical rotation and confident, quality input on geriatric topics are necessary to attract graduates to the growing field of older adult care. How nursing faculty present our industry to students is pivotal. We strongly believe that partnering with faculty today will lead to student nurses choosing our industry and helping all providers deliver quality resident care in the future.”

Anderson said planning is underway for additional workshops in the summer of 2019. Senior Care Excellence workshop topics include enhancing clinical skills, improving quality in long-term care, and promoting critical thinking as well as focusing on the difference between dementia and delirium and end of life, hospice and palliative care. 

Ecumen received its Innovation Award at the LeadingAge Minnesota Institute, the state’s largest and most comprehensive aging services conference attended by more than 4,000 older adult services professionals in all aspects of older adult services. Pictured (l to r): Nancy Stratman, Chair, LeadingAge Minnesota Board of Directors; Kim Kvale, RN, Ecumen Nurse Leader; Sonya DeSmith, RN, Ecumen Regional Nurse Consultant; Brett Anderson, RN, Ecumen Vice President of Nursing Services; Sara Sterling, LeadingAge Minnesota Awards & Recognition Committee Chair.



Ecumen Names Shelley Kendrick as Incoming President and CEO; Kathryn Roberts Becomes CEO Emeritus

Shelley Kendrick has been named Ecumen’s incoming President and CEO, effective Feb. 4. Currently Ecumen’s SVP of Operations and COO, Shelley succeeds Kathryn Roberts, who has led the organization since 2003. Kathryn will continue to serve as CEO Emeritus, leading Ecumen Philanthropy.

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