January 22, 2024 —Kendal at Oberlin, a nonprofit life plan community in Oberlin, Ohio, has announced that CEO Barbara Thomas will retire in February 2024 with 32 years leading the organization. She began her career with Kendal in 1992, one year before the Oberlin retirement community opened to residents in 1993.
Barbara’s career in aging services spans 50 years in 2024, beginning just after college, when she took a position working in activities programming at Judson Senior Living in Cleveland. She worked her way upward at Judson, getting her license in nursing home administration. In 1992, she accepted the opportunity to grow as the administrator for the new Kendal community taking shape in Oberlin.
Barbara has been a CARF accreditation peer surveyor for 33 years. She’s also served on the boards of Leading Age National, Leading Age Ohio, Friends Services for Aging and Peace Church. Local organizations served include Mercy Health Lorain and Oberlin Rotary. This past August, she was recognized by Leading Age Ohio with an award for Visionary Leadership.
Joan Villareal, Chair of the Kendal at Oberlin Board of Directors, notes that “Barbara has been an outstanding leader for 30+ years. Inspired by a clear sense of purpose and vision, she has encouraged Kendal at Oberlin residents and staff to grow into a premier community. While we will miss her guidance, we wish her the very best as she steps off to this next exciting phase of her life.”
As Kendal at Oberlin’s CEO, she has made significant contributions to the Kendal System, emphasizing the strengths gained by working together in partnership. This includes the founding of the Kendal at Home program, which is now an independent Kendal affiliate serving members in several states.
“Barbara is a pioneer and trailblazer in senior living, and it’s been an honor to work with her. Throughout her career, Barbara has exemplified Kendal values, and her leadership has been inspirational, paving the way for future generations. Barbara’s unwavering dedication, strategic vision, and commitment to excellence have left an indelible mark at Kendal and the entire senior living landscape,” says Amy Harrison, CFO/Interim CEO for The Kendal Corporation.
Kendal at Oberlin’s Board of Directors is working with a search firm to select the next leader for Kendal’s future.
About Kendal at Oberlin
Kendal at Oberlin is a vibrant, diverse, inclusive, and caring nonprofit life plan community serving older adults in northeast Ohio. Located about one mile from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and about a 40-minute drive from downtown Cleveland, the community offers a resident-led lifestyle with access to music, art, and lifelong learning. We are an affiliate of the Kendal System, offering values-driven services in the Quaker tradition.