Cassia in the News

Cassia Awards Recognize Excellence in Employees and Volunteers— and Fullness of Life in Residents

2019 Awards for Cassia Excellence (ACEs) award winners. Pictured with Cassia CEO Bob Dahl:  Stephanie Erickson, Excellence in Customer Engagement. Judy Snook, Resident Fullness of Life. Laura Jones, Excellence in Volunteerism. Steven Huynh, Excellence in Customer Engagement. Dave Shaw, Excellence in Leadership.

 When Augustana Care and Elim Care joined together to become Cassia last year, leadership wanted to be sure to recognize the shining example of employees, volunteers and residents at Cassia communities. “We want to reward not only excellence, but dedication to Cassia values such as innovation, compassion, integrity, respect, unity and collaboration,” says CEO Bob Dahl. This year’s awards honor the following individuals and collaborations:

 Augustana Regent of Burnsville Health Support Specialist Steven Huynh received the Excellence in Customer Engagement Award in Housing and Community Services. Steven oversees the service provided to memory care and care suite residents. He is known for taking time to make personal connections with residents whenever the opportunity arises. “As my Dad’s health worsened last fall, Steven demonstrated innovative initiative that improved my Dad’s quality of life. He developed individualized instructions with photos, teaching the staff to set up Dad’s oxygen equipment. Steven checked in on Dad numerous times throughout the day,” says Pam Carlson, daughter of an Augustana Regent resident.

 Licensed Practical Nurse Stephanie Erickson of Augustana Care Health and Rehabilitation of Apple Valley received the Cassia Excellence in Customer Engagement Award for Skilled Nursing. Stephanie approaches staff, residents and families with a joyful heart. In fact, “she is always reaching for the good in each individual. There is never a time when Stephanie cannot calm the atmosphere,” says Director of Nursing Tana Sahulka. Stephanie is not only quick to help residents; she reaches out to staff members who are having difficult times. Her dedication to staff and residents are in fact the definition of what it means to provide skilled care to those we serve.

 Volunteer Laura Jones won the Excellence in Volunteerism award for her work with Lakeside Oasis in Buffalo, MN, which provides comfort care for those facing the end of life. Laura is known as the mastermind behind the Lakeside Oasis campaign, working with a team to gather the funds needed to build Lakeside Oasis. She is also a weekly volunteer, listening to residents’ stories, providing vigil support and “whatever is needed,” Laura says. “It is about being present for the residents and families, so they are not alone.”

 The Fullness of Life award demonstrates the concept of active aging by engaging in activities that defy the conventional stereotypes of growing older. The award went to resident Judy Snook at Cassia’s Newton Village in Iowa. Judy is described by staff and peers as “unstoppable.” She regularly volunteers to help others in her community, providing transportation to doctor appointments, grocery stores and elsewhere. She also plans special events such as pizza parties, barbecues and more. Despite her own physical challenges, Judy continues to have a positive impact on the lives of those around her.

Augustana Care Health and Rehabilitation of Apple Valley Administrator Dave Shaw received the Excellence in Leadership Award.  Dave has been an administrator for the past 12 years, and is highly admired by his team. “What I admire about Dave most is his ability to remain level headed… in all kinds of difficult situations,” says Director of Therapeutic Recreation Jeff Strunk. Others say he is deeply involved in the lives of residents and leads by example. Director of Campus Marketing Jean Andries sums up how most staff members feel by saying, “If I was asked what brings me to work every day, I easily can say that is because Dave is my supervisor. He has a way of motivating me to be the best I can be.”


2019 Tim Tucker Spirit of Collaboration Award winner: Makado, property developers, community creators. Pictured with Cassia CEO Bob Dahl:  Mark Appelbaum (Founding Partner), Diane Marquis (Financial Controls & Development), Debra Glassman (Project Accountant)

The Tim Tucker Spirit of Collaboration Award was received by Makado Founder Mark Appelbaum. The award recognizes an outstanding collaboration between Cassia and an external partner. The collaboration must propel us toward excellence in service and promote innovation that improves the lives of older adults. All of this is true of Makado, a real estate development firm striving to create communities where people can live vibrant, meaningful, connected lives with dignity and peace of mind. 

The collaboration includes two Makado communities where Cassia provides care and services. To create these communities, Mark Appelbaum researched and installed “way finding” lighting, colored grab bars and motion technology to enhance the living experience for people needing memory care. This is just one aspect of what makes Makado unique.

Ron Sanford receiving a Lifetime Legacy Award at the 2019 Cassia Awards for Excellence. Pictured with Bob Dahl, CEO.

In addition, departing Chief Operating Officer Ron Sanford received a Lifetime Legacy Award for 33 years of service to Elim Care and Cassia. His responsibilities included overseeing the day-to-day operations in all skilled care, assisted and independent living communities while supervising financials, census, quality of care and employee relations. Ron’s extraordinary style of compassionate and thoughtful leadership played a major role in the organization’s success.

Should you wish to learn more or schedule an interview, please contact Jenna at 952-855-5168. To learn more about the awards, please contact Executive Assistant Briana Deschambault at or 952-855-5156.

About Cassia

Cassia’s mission is to foster fullness of life for older adults in the spirit of Christ’s love. In 2018, Augustana Care and Elim Care voluntarily joined together to form Cassia, reinforcing both organizations’ missions. With more than 200 years of combined service, the affiliation strengthens our focus on meeting the needs of residents, clients and patients of all faiths. The name “Cassia” (‘KAS e– uh) was inspired by an anointing oil made from the bark of the Cassia tree and is said to symbolize the heart of a servant. Cassia provides independent and assisted living communities, memory care, skilled nursing care centers, short-term rehabilitation centers, adult day programs and a variety of community-based services for older adults across five states.