Kristy Denton

"Do the right thing... we are all human."

MHA Alumni Spotlight: Kristy Denton

Interview Conducted by Viola Donahue

What was your childhood like?
I was very fortunate that I have a very supportive family. My parents just pushed me, in a good way; not too much, but wanted me to know that I could do whatever I wanted to do.

Can you tell me about your early influences?
My parents would do anything for me. They taught me about Christianity, and always told me to make sure that I do the right thing things for the right reasons. I had a track coach who instilled in me to at least try to go out and do what I can and push hard, which is important to me. Then, early in my career when I was a physical therapist assistant, the administrator sparked me to think about going into administration.

Do aspects from your track experience and/or Christian beliefs factor into your drive for what you do today?
Yes, I am an ultra-marathon runner so I am constantly telling myself I can push harder, I can do more. I think that mindset of “I can do anything” is apparent in my leadership style. Running a nursing home, I want it to be the best that it can, and I want the residents to have the best experience possible. As far as the Christianity aspect, I feel strongly that if we are always striving to do the right things for the residents, then everything else falls into place.

Can you think of any notable early leadership lessons?
When I first took over as an administrator, I did not have a family yet, and my entire world was my job. I did not understand that people had lives outside of work. Now I have a son and that has helped me to become a better leader. I am more able to have empathy for people – I can see that maybe an employee’s child is sick, and they need to call in for a day off. Before, I could not grasp this decision because it was their child who was sick, not the employee. Also, I had a mentor who once told me to never show any weakness at work. I have come to accept that I am human too, I can cry alongside everyone else. Sometimes it’s better to be there for someone as a caring human, than as some stoic creature.

What are some personal values, ethics, and/or convictions that are most important to you?
If we are always doing the right thing, then everything else will fall into place. I am taking an ethics course right now, and my ideals do not always line up with the textbook, but you have to be a realist as well. If we are always doing the best we can, with what we have, and always have the best interest in mind - then things will come out okay.

What was your first management position?
When I was 18 years old, I was crazy into rock-climbing and I just sort of worked my way into management because people already thought I lived there. Who better to run it than someone who was there non-stop? I learned essential organization and time management skills. The owner even spent time teaching me some finance and marketing. Then, as I moved through the world of assisted living, I learned to be resourceful and get my hands dirty because the business never closes.

How do you hire?
I look for someone with compassion. They’re coming in to take care of older adults. I want them to come in and understand that we are all here for the same reasons – to provide excellent care for our residents. If someone comes in and they are very proud, that’s a negative sign. I want them to come in with a lump of humanity. They may be a nurse, but the dishwasher is equally as important. So, I really look for someone who is open to doing more and working with a team.

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Dr. Kevin Valadares
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