Country Meadows Retirement Communities and Ecumenical Retirement Community has a new president and CEO.
Meredith Mills, granddaughter of former Gov. George Leader and Mary Jane Leader, who founded Country Meadows, will take the helm of the Hershey-based organization which has facilities in Wyomissing, Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.
Mills takes over from Michael Leader, who, after more than 30 years leading the organization, will serve as executive chairman.
“I have every confidence in handing over our organization’s leadership to my niece. Meredith has been leading teams on campuses and at the home office for more than 11 years and did an outstanding job guiding us through the pandemic,” Leader said.
Mills has held various positions at Country Meadows including marketing director, campus executive director, vice president of strategic planning and most recently, COO.
She has a master’s degree in Health Administration from Penn State University and an undergraduate degree from Franklin and Marshall College.
“I cannot express in words what an incredible honor it is to follow not only in the footsteps of my grandparents, parents, and uncles, but also in the footsteps of so many of the Country Meadows and Ecumenical ‘family members’ who have committed many years to our mission to serve seniors,” Mills said.
This year marks the 61st year of the Leader family’s involvement in the senior living industry, which contrasts with a 2010 report by the Conway Center for Family Business that found the average lifespan of a family-owned business is just 24 years, Country Meadows said.
Mills promotion transitions the family’s third generation into the top leadership role, despite a 2010 study that found just 13% of family-owned businesses are passed down successfully to a third generation.
“I consider it a privilege to transfer leadership to such a capable and experienced member of the third generation of our family,” Leader said, “Nothing pleases me more than to ensure that Country Meadows and Ecumenical Retirement Community will remain a family-owned and family-managed organization led by such an outstanding CEO.”
It was Mills’ respect and admiration for her grandparents that led her to a career in senior living.
“I was motivated to come back to Country Meadows by my grandfather’s request to see the third generation more involved and was blessed to be able to spend a few years at Country Meadows while he was still with us,” she said. “His strong commitment to innovation, integrity, and empowerment was impressed upon me during that time, and I am grateful for the opportunity to receive further mentorship from my uncles and father.”