Emerald Heights

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Residents have a voice in governance

Emerald Heights, a subsidiary of Emerald Communities, is owned and operated by The Eastside Retirement Association, a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1979 and governed by a volunteer board of directors composed of highly qualified and experienced individuals.

Several members of the founding board moved to Emerald Heights when it opened its doors more than 10 years later; many still reside here today.

Today, three board positions are reserved for residents, ensuring that those living in the community will always have a voice in its governance.

Meet our directors

Justin Hendrickson
Board Chair

Justin Hendrickson is a partner at the Seattle-based office of Grant Thornton, one of the leading global accounting, tax and business advisory organizations. For the last eight years, he has worked in the Business Advisory Services practice, primarily focusing on internal audit, SAS70, SOX, and control optimization for several Pacific Northwest clients. Mr. Hendrickson serves clients in a variety of industries, including not-for-profit, entertainment, manufacturing and retail/distribution.

Prior to joining Grant Thornton, Mr. Hendrickson was with Arthur Andersen for six years. He began his career with Andersen in 1996 working in the financial audit practice. In 1999, he transferred to New York to work in Andersen’s national Regulatory Risk Services Practice.

Mr. Hendrickson is a Certified Information Systems Auditor and a member of several professional organizations, including the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Mr. Hendrickson earned his bachelor’s degree in business economics, with emphasis in accounting, from the University of California Santa Barbara.

He and his wife Catherine have two young daughters, Regan and Alexis, and the family now lives in Redmond, Wash. The family supports and volunteers with many community organizations, including KEEN Los Angeles (a national, nonprofit volunteer-led organization that provides one-to-one recreational opportunities for children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities at no cost to their families and caregivers), the Los Angeles Marathon, the South Bay Surf Festival, the Junior League of Los Angeles, UCSB and local church-related activities.

Danna Van Horn
Vice Chair

Danna Van Horn is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA. She has served as pastor of several Presbyterian churches and as Chaplain in three acute care facilities in southern California. From 1993–1999, Rev. Van Horn was director of pastoral services at Presbyterian Inter-community Hospital in Whittier, Calif. She created a unique program of pastoral care among the 1200-member hospital staff and served as pastor to staff, patients and families. Rev. Van Horn also served on the board of directors of the Whittier YMCA and as a member of two hospitals’ ethics committees.

Rev. Van Horn earned her bachelor’s degree in education at Millersville University in Pennsylvania, received a Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, and has completed 1,600 hours of Clinical Pastoral Education. She currently serves as Associate Pastor for Congregational Care at First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue. In this position, she heads the Deacon Ministry and various support groups, teaches, preaches and provides home and hospital visitation and counseling.

Rev. Van Horn has a son and a daughter, both of whom live in Washington, and is the very proud grandmother to grandson Daniel.

Barbara L. Whitson
Secretary

Barbara L. Whitson, Ph.D. spent her career working as a school psychologist and college-level education instructor. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, and then pursued both her master’s degree and doctorate in Educational Psychology at the University of Washington.

Ms. Whitson was a school psychologist for the Shoreline School District, where she last worked with preschool special needs/special education children. She worked with Shoreline for more than 26 years. Earlier in her career, she worked as an education instructor at the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University and Seattle University. She also worked with Highly Capable Student programs in the Shoreline and Edmonds school districts, and as a school psychologist in the Mercer Island and Seattle school districts.  Barbara retired in 2012.

Her professional memberships included: Professional Education Advisory Board, School Psychology, University of Washington (1995– 2006); Committee Chair for Seattle Biennial Conference, World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (1997); Title IV Advisory Council, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction (1979–1982); Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development; National Association of School Psychologists; New Horizons for Learning; Northwest Evaluation Association; Northwest Gifted Child Association (board member and state president); Washington Association of Educators of Talented and Gifted; Washington Research Education Association; Washington State Association of School Psychologists; and Women’s University Club.  She is currently a member of the Women’s University Club and Washington Athletic Club.

Ms. Whitson has been associated with Emerald Heights since 1992, when her mother was among the first residents to move in.

Leah Diehl, CPA, LNHA
Vice President & Executive Director

Leah Diehl joined Emerald Heights as its chief operating officer in December 2011. She assumed the title and responsibilities of executive director at Emerald Heights in January 2014. As executive director, she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the community.

Prior to joining Emerald Heights, Ms. Diehl worked as vice president of operations for Village Shalom, Inc., a not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community in Overland Park, Kansas. There, Ms. Diehl’s responsibilities included oversight and responsibility for operations in Nursing, Facilities, Food Services, Security, Information Technology and several departments under Resident Services. Before assuming this position, she served as the chief finance officer.

Ms. Diehl’s background includes years of experience as a health care auditor focused on hospitals and long-term care.  She has experience and expertise in financial and operations management, Medicare reimbursement, information systems and risk management.

Ms. Diehl earned her bachelor’s degree in Accounting Information Systems from DeVry University in Kansas City. She is a Certified Public Accountant, and a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator in Kansas and Washington. She is also a current member of the LeadingAge Washington Planning & Collaboration Committee.

Richard A. Bryan, MSN, RN
Director

Richard Bryan brings more than 30 years of health care experience in a variety of staff, managerial and executive level roles in both civilian and military settings. He currently serves as Vice President, System Change Management, Chief Compliance Officer at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, Wash. In this role, he provides executive leadership and oversight to the System Change Management Division, which includes the Epic electronic health record; information technologies; and other programs to ensure quality patient care and maximize performance and outcomes. He is responsible for ensuring that all aspects of organizational risk, patient safety, corporate compliance, survey readiness, quality and performance improvement are continuously assessed with appropriate and sustainable actions implemented to address areas requiring improvement.

Mr. Bryan served over 20 years active and reserve duty as a commissioned officer in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. He has co-authored two books: Handling Difficult Patients: A Nurse Managers Guide and Managing Challenging Resident Behaviors, A Resource and Training Guide.

He is a Registered Nurse and a member of the Sigma Theta Tau honor society, the American Organization of Nurse Executives; the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) and the Risk and Insurance Management Society™. Mr. Bryan earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Union University, in Jackson, Tenn., and later his Master of Science in Nursing–Health Systems Administration (MHN-HSA) from Loyola University in New Orleans, La.

Mr. Bryan resides with his wife Jennifer and son Charlie in Bellevue, Wash.

Robert G. Crist
Director

Robert G. Crist recently retired from his position as business administrator of the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, where he had overall responsibilities for finance, human resources, facilities, and all activities not related to ministry.

Mr. Crist has more than 30 years of experience in professional management consulting and in senior executive positions. Over the course of his career, Mr. Crist has worked with more than 200 organizations in various industries. His positions included serving as chief financial and operating officer for Community Health Plan of Washington and for 23 years as a partner with the international accounting and consulting firm of Ernst & Young, most recently as the partner in charge of services to both the health care and natural resources industries. In this role, several of his clients were continuing care retirement centers. He provided early professional advice during the formation of Emerald Heights.

Mr. Crist is a graduate of the University of Redlands and is a Certified Public Accountant. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Financial Executives Institute, the Healthcare Financial Management Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Mr. Crist has served on the boards of numerous community service organizations, including serving as president of the Bellevue Community College telecommunications advisory board, vice president of the Learning Disability Association of Washington, treasurer of the Health Care Purchasers Association, and treasurer of the board of trustees of Eastside Catholic High School, and on the finance committee of the Agros Foundation, a Christian third world development organization.

Wesley E. Eckert
Director

Wesley Eckert has been a resident of Emerald Heights, along with his wife Joanne, since July 2012. Born in Foreston, Minnesota on January 16, 1935, Mr. Eckert moved later that year to a dairy farm in the Matanuska Valley in Palmer, Alaska — a move that might have been a critical first step in his long career. Mr. Eckert later married Joanne Cogley in 1957.

Mr. Eckert retired in 1998, following a 39-year career at Darigold Incorporated, where he rose through the ranks from positions in quality assurance and sales to manufacturing and international trade development. Ultimately, he became the president and chief executive officer in 1990.

Throughout his career and in retirement, Mr. Eckert was very active in professional and volunteer activities. Early on, Mr. Eckert served in the U.S. Army as an officer through the ROTC Program and later as a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves. He was a board member and former chair of the Presbyterian Retirement Communities Northwest and an Elder at Overlake Park Presbyterian and Bellevue First Presbyterian Churches. 

Mr. Eckert earned his bachelor’s degree in Dairy Science from Washington State College (now Washington State University), and then completed coursework for working executives through the University of Washington Graduate School of Business Administration in Management.

As residents of Emerald Heights, the Eckerts are actively involved in the community, serving on several Residents’ Association committees.

Tom Granger
Director

Tom Granger brings broad experience in non-profit management and engineering/construction, with special expertise in environmental engineering and construction. He recently served as the senior vice president of Programs and Operations at Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County. In that position, he successfully led the launch of a merged affiliate serving all of King County, Wash., restructuring diverse programs and operations covering family services, site acquisition, volunteer programs and more. Previously, as executive director of the East King County affiliate, he led a financial and organizational restructuring that resulted in increased capacity and building higher quality homes at lower cost. These professional positions with Habitat for Humanity followed three years of service on the organization’s board of directors.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Granger held positions of increasing responsibility with Foster Wheeler Environmental Corporation, a $300M wholly owned environmental engineering and construction subsidiary acquired by Foster Wheeler Corporation in 1994, which provides worldwide consulting, engineering, construction and operations and maintenance services. In his 24-year career there, he worked his way up from assistant engineer to senior vice president of the Major Commercial Remediation Program. Later, he started his own environmental engineering consulting practice and general contracting business, Granger Construction, and served as construction management consultant for the site development of the Snoqualmie Ridge affordable housing community.

Mr. Granger earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and master’s degree in environmental engineering from Manhattan College in New York City. He also studied Strategic Perspectives in Non Profit Management at Harvard University.

Mr. Granger and his wife Nancy have four children and are longtime residents of East King County.

Linda Yoshitake Hussey
Director

Linda Yoshitake Hussey, a long-time Redmond resident, graduated from Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in special education and a minor in psychology. She formerly taught primary special education for the mild to severely developmentally disabled with the Bellevue School District.

Ms. Hussey owned and operated Classic Nursery & Landscape Co. in Redmond with her husband for almost 20 years. Currently, she is involved with Keep It Simple (K.I.S.), dba KIS Farm and KIS Organics, which is an urban farm and feed store, also specializing in edible plants, custom soils, hydroponics and animal feed.

Ms. Hussey is a certified mediator for the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish, Island and Skagit County, and continues to volunteer as a mediator in small claims courts. She is a graduate of the Leadership Institute program and an active community volunteer. She has served on the Business Tax Transportation Committee and the Economic Development Advisory committee for the City of Redmond, and is currently treasurer for the non-profit, Redmond Organization of Shared Environments. She served on the Redmond Chamber of Commerce board of directors for six years and has served on the Eastside Retirement Association board of directors since 2000, also a former Chair of ERA.

She has been married for more than 40 years and has two grown sons. Ms. Hussey and her husband enjoy their annual organic vegetable garden. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, cooking, canning, gardening, reading, travel, walking/hiking and her volunteer work.

Gordon Lindblom
Director

Gordon Lindblom has been a resident at Emerald Heights since 2011, when he moved here with his wife, Eleanore (Ellie), from Fruit Cove, Fla. Born in Philadelphia, Pa., Mr. Lindblom built a 35-year career at the U.S. Steel Corporation in Philadelphia, Pa., Pittsburgh, Pa. and Detroit, Mich., where he worked his way up from a position in customer technical service to management in the same department and concurrently managed and coordinated the department’s computer education and maintenance.

Mr. Lindblom earned his bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from Drexel University, in Philadelphia, Pa. He is a licensed professional engineer, a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor. He designed and built a passive solar house in Mich. and built another energy efficient home in Fla.

As a resident, he shares his knowledge and enthusiasm for computers with fellow residents and has taken a leadership role in editing and maintaining the resident website. His special interests include flying and sailboat racing. He is also a licensed amateur radio operator.

William (Bill) Merriman
Director

Bill Merriman is owner of Synergy HomeCare of Bellevue, a business that provides non-medical home care to people in their own homes. Earlier in his career, Mr. Merriman spent more than 28 years with the Shields Bag & Printing Co., a 70-year-old, family-held company that manufactures flexible packaging materials and holds a place among the 100 largest private companies in Washington state.

Mr. Merriman received an associate’s degree from Centralia Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University in Business Administration.

Very active and committed to the arts, Mr. Merriman was president of the Allied Arts Council of Yakima Valley, first vice-chair on the Washington State Arts Commission, a member of the Millennium Arts Plaza Foundation and prior chairman of Washington State’s Millennium Project.

He also has been affiliated with the Executive Committee of the Grand Columbia Council of the Boy Scouts of America, co-chair of the Business/Education Partnership for the Yakima Chamber of Commerce and the National Eagle Scout Association.

Mr. Merriman, his wife Colleen and their two children reside in Bellevue, Wash. and are members of the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue.

Scott Mullet
Director

Scott Mullet brings 21 years of investment experience to the board. As senior vice president and principal of GW Capital, Inc. and a member of the firm’s investment committee, he manages portfolios for both equity and fixed-income clients. 

Previously Mr. Mullet worked with the Quellos Group in Seattle as associate director of investments. There he was responsible for product management, business development, and client service for fixed-income products. He also researched and proposed investment strategies as a key member of the fixed income portfolio strategy team.

Mr. Mullet began his investment career in 1992 with Western Asset Management Company in Pasadena, Calif. During his nine-year tenure, he held managerial positions in product development, investment analytics, marketing and client service.

He is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Seattle.

Mr. Mullet earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and his master’s degree in business administration from the Anderson Graduate School of Management at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

He is a member of Bellevue Presbyterian church and has served as the chair of the BelPres Legacy Foundation for more than four years. He also chaired the church’s most recent Associate Pastor Nominating Committee. He is an active member of the church’s children drama troupe, performing Sundays for kindergartners through fourth graders. He served as a Finance Elder from 2007 to 2010.

Mr. Mullet and his wife Jenelle have three daughters.

Maureen A. O’Hara
Director

Maureen O’Hara is a management consultant with a background in project management and computer science. Ms. O’Hara is semi-retired after leaving Microsoft 12 years ago, but she continues to work part time as an instructor at the University of Washington, where she teaches project management.

Ms. O’Hara has been active on several community boards, including Northwest Yeshiva High School and Eastside Preparatory School, which she helped found. At both schools, she served as project manager on small construction projects, helped supervise larger project, and assisted with marketing and communication. She started the Parkinson’s cycling program at Northwest Hospital, which is now operated by the University of Washington Medical Center, and she now serves on the board of a small bio-tech startup company based in California. In each of these roles, she has had an influence on the planning, growth, finance and governance of the organization.

She gained extensive knowledge of the region’s retirement communities and what they offer when she helped her own mother make her move to Emerald Heights more than a decade ago. She joined the board because she believes in what Emerald Heights offers—outstanding lifestyle, long-term security and a supportive community—and she wants to ensure that it can continue to serve new generations of retirees.

Ms. O’Hara resides in Redmond and is a member of Temple De Hirsch Sinai.

Larry L. Pinnt
Director

Larry L. Pinnt graduated from Central Washington College in 1956 with a degree in mathematics and a commission in the USAF. From 1956 to 1959, he served as an accounting and finance officer with principle assignments in Japan.

After his military service, Mr. Pinnt was employed by Pacific Telephone and its successor company Pacific Northwest Bell. The Pinnt family moved to the East Coast from 1966 to 1968, while Larry was employed by the AT&T Company with regulatory duties involving the Federal Communications Commission. From 1979 until his retirement in 1989, he held the position of Chief Financial Officer with Pacific Northwest Bell and its successor company US WEST Communications.

Mr. Pinnt has served as a member of the corporate boards of directors of Pacific Northwest Bell, SAFECO Mutual Funds, Key Bank of Washington, Seattle Trust and Savings Bank, Blue Cross of Washington and Alaska and most recently Cascade Natural Gas Corporation. He was elected chairman of the board by the latter two companies.

Mr. Pinnt was designated a “Financial Expert” as defined under the rules of the SEC by the boards of SAFECO Mutual Funds and Cascade Natural Gas Corporation. In addition, Mr. Pinnt was an arbitrator for the NYSE.

Mr. Pinnt has also been active on community non-profit boards including the Washington State Research Council, Seattle Youth Symphony, Lutheran Bible Institute of Seattle, University of Washington Medicine as well as the University Hospital and University Physicians Boards. He was a member of the founding boards of directors of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and, by appointment by Govemor Gary Locke, The Developmental Disabilities Endowment Trust Fund.

Mr. Pinnt and his wife Joyce have been long time residents of the Woodinville and Redmond areas. They are active members in the Lutheran church and enjoy traveling with their families, fly fishing and tennis.

John Plovie
Director

John Plovie has been principal and owner of Plovie Law Firm, located in Redmond, Wash., for 27 years. Prior to founding Plovie Law Firm, he was a partner with the law firm of Creighton & Plovie.

Mr. Plovie graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in Preventative Medicine and a master’s degree in Health Care Administration. He earned his Jurist Doctorate from Seattle University.

Mr. Plovie is a member of the Commercial Law League of America (CLLA) and the American Bar Association. He is also former chairman of the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Plovie enjoys golfing and outdoor activities, including hiking, and has recently begun to learn woodturning. He and wife Barbara are long-term Redmond residents, have two adult daughters and a loving canine companion Jake.

Daphne R. Schneider
Director

Daphne R. Schneider is principal and owner of Daphne R. Schneider and Associates, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing assistance with difficult people and systems issues in the workplace. Services include investigation of allegations of harassment and discrimination, executive/leadership/employee coaching, team development, mediation, human resources consulting, facilitation of meetings and retreats, and related training.  She has conducted hundreds of workplace investigations, consulted with many public, private and not-for-profit clients, and presented at numerous professional conferences.

Ms. Schneider also has more than 40 years of organizational leadership experience, having held senior human resources, business and support services management positions, as well as not-for-profit board leadership positions.  

Ms. Schneider has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in Organizational Development from Central Washington University. She is a trained mediator, and is also a licensed private investigator.

Professional and community affiliations include having served as adjunct faculty for Seattle Pacific University and Western Washington University, past president of the Western Region of the International Personnel Management Association, past president, officer and member of the board of directors for the Center for Human Services, former chair and member of the board of trustees of the Eastside Heritage Center, and former member of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce board of directors.  In addition to currently chairing the board of directors of Emerald Communities, she serves on the board of directors of Emerald Heights. She is also currently the vice president of the board of the Washington Association of Legal Investigators, co-chair of the board of directors of the Othello Park Alliance and member of the board of directors of Washington Care Services and Southeast Care Center Facilities.

Suzanne Sikma
Director

Suzanne Sikma, RN, Ph.D. is a professor in the Nursing Program at the University of Washington Bothell, where her research is focused on environments that promote healthy aging and support self-determination of older adults. Her past gerontologic research has focused on developing caring environments for long-term care workers, and her research has been influential in long-term-care policy in Washington state.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Illinois Wesleyan University and her master’s degree in nursing from Loyola University of Chicago, Ms. Sikma pursued her doctoral degree from the University of Washington, School of Nursing. She then completed her post-doctoral fellowship in gerontological nursing at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing, Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence.

Ms. Sikma also has an extensive clinical background, working her way up from staff nurse to head nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, followed by positions as staff development instructor and associate director of nursing for education and research at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. She then served as staff development coordinator and clinical services director at Ida Culver House Broadview in Seattle.

Ms. Sikma is active in many professional organizations, including the Gerontological Society of America, Sigma Theta Tau Psi Chapter at Large, King County Nurses Association, Washington State Nurses Association, American Nurses Association, Western Institute of Nursing, and the Northwest Coalition for Excellence in Geriatric Nursing Education. She is on the editorial review board of The Journal of Gerontological Nursing and also reviews for other geriatric journals.

Ms. Sikma has received several awards for her work, including the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award in 2003, the John A. Hartford Foundation Institute for Geriatric Nursing Scholar in 2002, and the Worthington Distinguished Professor Award in 2000.

Ms. Sikma and her husband Michael Tucker live on the Eastside and enjoy boating and following college and professional sports teams with local and family connections.

Thomas G. Stoebe
Residents' Association Council President

Emerald Heights resident Tom Stoebe grew up in an orange grove in southern California, went on to earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering from Stanford, and then worked as a lecturer and researcher at Imperial College, London, England. In 1966, he joined the engineering faculty at the University of Washington, beginning a distinguished, 40-year career, teaching in areas as diverse as metallurgy and ethics and developing research programs in radiation detection and semiconductor processing.

Mr. Stoebe served as chair of the UW Materials Science and Engineering Department for nine years. He also served as Associate Dean of Engineering for five years, coordinating outreach programs, facilities and building space.

Mr. Stoebe has played an active role in many community organizations related to education. He served as a board member of ASM International, a materials technical society, and as chair of the ASM Materials Education Foundation, he led a successful fundraising campaign doubling the Foundation’s endowment to $10M, which was then applied to the development of programs for students and teachers in science and technology. His work in education included outreach to K–12 teachers, helping them make science and math courses more interesting. He developed outreach programs in science and engineering for disadvantaged students, both locally and across the state. These efforts, which focused on showing students that science and engineering are viable, exciting and available career choices, continue today under the leadership of the University of Washington and the ASM Foundation.

Mr. Stoebe has also served as chairman of the board of a startup company in Seattle, and continues to serve as a consultant for educational programs in the region.

Over the span of his career, Mr. Stoebe has received many awards and recognition for his teaching and his community service. Recent awards include the 2012 Albert White Lifetime Teaching Award from ASM International and the 2013 Diamond Award for Outreach from the UW College of Engineering.

Longtime residents of Bellevue, Mr. Stoebe and his wife Jan moved to Emerald Heights in 2009, which they consider to be the best decision they have made. Mr. Stoebe currently serves as President of the Emerald Heights Residents’ Association and also enjoys working on the Garden Railway. The Stoebes are also active in the Presbyterian Church, where both have served as Deacons and Mr. Stoebe as an Elder.

The couple has traveled extensively, including memorable trips to Antarctica, China and France. Avid boaters, they spent time recently living on their boat, exploring the Inside Passage. Together they have six children and 14 grandchildren who provide them with continuing joy and chaos.

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