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Learn about us, our history and leadership

A new plan for growing, with the same mission of caring.

We are communities of heart, and our focus goes beyond basic care. In the course of everyday life, our associates form endearing relationships with our residents by honoring and nurturing each of them. Regardless of the resident’s level of need, all receive the same dedicated care because we deeply believe that every person is equally valued by God.

WE DEPEND ON ROUGHLY 1.5K ASSOCIATES TO RAISE OUR STANDARDS OF CARE.

Barb Shepard, Chief Human Resources Officer and the Home Office Human Resources team provide associates, volunteers, and interns with systems, processes and programs to work in and accomplish our goals. This also makes Christian Horizons attractive and competitive to those looking for a rewarding experience in the job market. Barb’s team is working to standardize the approach to human resources across the ministry for synergy and efficiency and to enhance the experience for Christian Horizons associates. 

Our goal is to be the ministry of choice for associates, volunteers, and all others who join us in our mission of providing a dedicated and positive future for older adults to flourish. 

Juanita Black
2020 Dr. Tim Phillippe Leadership Award Recipient

Strategic Growth
Annual Report July 1, 2018 | June 30, 2019

From a history of purpose, dedication and care…

We were founded in 1962, inspired by one man’s dream of creating a place where his loved ones could age with dignity in a Christian atmosphere. He and men from nearby churches raised funds to purchase property in Lincoln, Illinois, where they built and opened the first Christian Nursing Home, with 48 beds, in 1965.

Christian leaders from other areas soon expressed interest in Christian Nursing Homes. This prompted a long period of expansion—adding memory care, short-term rehabilitation, skilled care and hospice care, as well as senior independent and assisted living options in many of our communities. 

…A leader in senior healthcare and living

Today, over 50 years later, we’ve changed our name to Christian Horizons, and we’ve become one of the nation’s largest faith-based, not-for-profit senior living providers—with 11 communities across four states—all deeply committed to the well being of our residents and their families. And we are continuously expanding to meet the needs of today’s seniors with new options, including GracePoint Short-Term RehabSafe Haven Hospice, CareLink Home Care and Senior Care Pharmacy Services.

Firmly grounded in our Christian heritage.

Christian Horizons is supported by the Independent Christian Churches and Churches of Christ and remains true to that heritage. 

Over 200 churches provide hundreds of volunteers and thousands of volunteer hours—adding countless personal touches—resulting in extra joy and happiness for our guests and their families.

Leadership committed to the future.

Christian Horizons is led by a team of dedicated senior professionals with deep experience in senior living, healthcare and ministry.

Jake Bell
Chief Executive Officer

Jake Bell
Chief Executive Officer

Jake Bell is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Christian Horizons.

Jake has spent most of his career working in faith-based senior living and health systems.  Before joining Christian Horizons, Jake served as the Chief Operating Officer for Lutheran Senior Services, a senior housing and service provider in Missouri and Illinois.  Prior to that, he was the President and CEO of Mercy Medical, a regional health corporation of Catholic Health East.  His extensive background includes experience as Executive Director of a senior living community in North Carolina and Long-Term Care Administrator in Oklahoma. Serving seniors runs in Jake’s family - his father spent his career as an administrator in senior living. 

Jake holds the Masters of Science degree in Administration of Long-Term Care and Retirement Facilities from the University of North Texas. His concentration was in strategic planning, organizational development and leadership.

Jake and his family enjoy going to St. Louis Cardinals games, music festivals, beekeeping, scuba diving and volunteering in the community. 

Chuck Schmitz
Chief Financial Officer

Chuck Schmitz
Chief Financial Officer

Chuck Schmitz is Chief Financial Officer and an ex officio Board member of Christian Horizons. He is responsible for overall financial management of the organization; its financial reporting and transparency; and for multiple organizational functions including Treasury, Investments, Financing and Budgeting. Additionally, Chuck participates in shaping strategies for Christian Horizon’s long-term mission and short-term goals.

Chuck has over 25 years of financial oversight experience in several industries including legal professional services, distribution, construction and health care. He began his career working for a large CPA firm in St. Louis and maintains two designations from the state of Missouri: Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).

He is married with two children and lives in St. Charles, Missouri.

Jennifer S. Knecht
Chief Sales and Marketing Officer

Jennifer S. Knecht
Chief Sales and Marketing Officer

Jennifer S. Knecht is the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Christian Horizons. A seasoned insider to senior health care, living communities and home-based services, Jennifer has been at the executive leadership level in healthcare for over a decade. She’s an innovative change agent and an energetic fusion of digital strategist, disruptive branding storyteller, marketing visionary and inspirational leader with a passion for carving out market advantage, igniting growth and cultivating customer engagement through an omnichannel approach.

As Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Jennifer supports strategic growth of the ministry working with teams to develop marketing and branding strategies and innovative sales growth plans to elevate experiences for residents, families, associates and guests. Brand elevation and strategic growth are the cornerstones of Christian Horizons’ sales and marketing teams.

Jennifer is passionate about growth and development and lends her talents by serving on several board of director appointments. And in 2019, Jennifer was named one of the Lincoln Journal Stars’ most inspiring women for her incredible contributions to excellence in healthcare and her role as a mentor and leader for women in the workplace. When she’s not immersed into the latest marketing trends, you can find Jennifer enjoying the great outdoors in her home-base of Nebraska and southern Utah with her husband, Joey, and yorkie, Chirpa.

Jenelle Bertolino
Chief Strategy Officer

Jenelle Bertolino
Chief Strategy Officer

Jenelle Bertolino, MBA is the Chief Strategy Officer of Christian Horizons. Jenelle is a talented management professional offering 28 years of diverse healthcare experience to include management, leadership, strategic planning and execution. She has proven her ability to expand services and develop programs that increase revenue and profit while providing high quality outcomes.

In her current position, Jenelle is leading the organization's multi-year strategic plan with the senior leadership team and board of directors.  Strategic initiatives are focused on diversification of current portfolio and growth in Life Plan Communities and includes major campus repositioning, green field development, potential mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures for senior living and home and community base programs. 

Jenelle previously served as Executive Director of Orthopedic Service Line, AhtletiCare/TherapyCare Services and Neuroscience Service Line at HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, responsible for net revenues of over $81,490,000.

Jenelle holds an MBA from Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois, a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Care Management and an Associate Degree in Physical Therapy from the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude. 

Connie Rhoads
Chief Compliance Officer

Connie Rhoads
Chief Compliance Officer

Connie Rhoads is the Chief Compliance Officer for Christian Horizons and its affiliates and has led the Compliance Department since 2010. Connie has over 13 years experience in regulatory compliance and is Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC). She is also an Occupational Therapist by background.

Barb Shepard
Chief Human Resources Officer

Barb Shepard
Chief Human Resources Officer

Barb Shepard is the Chief Human Resources Officer. She brings 30 plus years of experience in the Human Resources field. Barb came to us from Concordance Academy of Leadership in St. Louis where she served as Executive Vice President, Head of Human Resources. She has earned the Master of Business Administration and the Juris Doctor degrees from St. Louis University. She is a licensed attorney in the state of Missouri.

Barb enjoys being with her husband, Greg, and raising and working with their Weimaraners. Barb’s interest in Christian Horizons is to live her faith by working with an organization that embraces serving people.

Keith H. Ray
Chief Development & Mission Integration Officer

Keith H. Ray
Chief Development & Mission Integration Officer

Dr. Keith H. Ray is the Chief Development & Mission Integration Officer
 at Christian Horizons. In this capacity he is involved with overseeing and developing the Chaplaincy Program, facilitating educational conferences for corporate leadership, collaborating with staff in church relations, and representing Christian Horizons to legislative entities. 

Dr. Ray has a long and distinguished career in Christian higher education. He served as president of Lincoln Christian University (LCU) in Lincoln, Illinois for 16 years, leading the school to record fundraising, enrollment, capital improvement and academic excellence. Prior to LCU, Dr. Ray was president of Dallas Christian College for four years, where he engaged in new initiatives to expand and grow the school.

In his spare time he enjoys reading, golf, tennis, water skiing, kayaking and walking.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is a policy-governing board responsible for the oversight of the ministry of Christian Horizons. There is a minimum of 13 members, all of whom must be active Christian Church or Church of Christ members in good standing. 

Nicholas Filing
Chairman

Nicholas Filing
Chairman

Nicolas A. Filing was elected to the Christian Horizons Board in 2011 and currently serves as the Chairman.

Nick was employed in the financial services industry for 43 years. He retired as Chairman, President, and CEO in 2013 from OneAmerica Securities. Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana. In retirement, Nick consults for a financial industry organization.

Nick was educated at the University of Akron where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business and Education. His professional achievements include Chartered Financial Consultant and Chartered Life Underwriter designations. Nick has served as President of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals.

Nick and his wife, Sherri, live in Lenexa, Kansas, and have two adult sons and five grandchildren. They are members of Legacy Christian Church. Nick currently serves on the Seniors Leadership and Collections Teams. He has served as a Sunday School Leader and Small Group Leader.

Nick enjoys golf, traveling and activities with his grandchildren.

Committees: Board Development & Nominating, Executive Compensation, Finance & Audit, Strategic Planning Committees and Executive Committee (Chairman)

Don Fitzgerald
Vice Chairman

Don Fitzgerald
Vice Chairman

Don Fitzgerald was elected to the Christian Horizons Board in 2013 and currently serves as the Vice-Chairman.

Don was employed by BJC Healthcare in St. Louis, Missouri for 30 years before retiring in 2018 from his position of Vice President – Audit Services. His entire career of 43 years included healthcare auditing and other healthcare positions.

Don was educated at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he obtained his B.S. in Accounting. He also maintained Certified Public Accountant and Certified Internal Auditor certifications throughout his career.

Committees: Finance & Audit Committee, Strategic Committee, Executive Committee and Executive Compensation Committee (Chairman).

Scott Williams
Secretary

Scott Williams
Secretary

V. Scott Williams was elected to the Christian Horizon's Board in 2012 and currently serves as Secretary.

Scott is an equity member of the St. Louis/St. Charles based law firm Hamilton Weber, LLC. He has practiced law since 1986 primarily in healthcare and personal injury defense litigation. Scott is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as Best Lawyer in the areas of Medical Malpractice Defense since 2014 and Commercial Litigation since 2015. Scott also serves as Teaching Pastor for the New Heights Christian Church, a multi-lingual/multi-cultural congregation based in Bridgeton, Missouri.

Scott received seminary training at Freed-Hardeman University in Tennessee (1975-78), a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Arkansas State University (1983), where he was recognized as the Outstanding Student in Philosophy, and a Law Degree from the University of Mississippi (1986) where he was ranked first in his graduating class. Scott has served on the Boards of Christian Family Services of St. Louis, Christian Academy of Greater St. Louis and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for St. Louis Christian College.

Scott has been married to his wife, Catherine, since 1977. They have two children and make their home in St. Charles, Missouri. Scott's primary non-occupational interests include public speaking, and cooking.

Committees: Executive, Strategic, Development and Mission Integration Committees (Chairman).

Bill Carter
Treasurer

Bill Carter
Treasurer

Bill has served as a director on the Board of Christian Horizons since 2007 and currently serves as Treasurer.

Bill is currently retired. Former careers include Manager Asset and Credit Operations Examiner and held several positions in the Farm Credit System for more than 30 years.

He is a member of New Hope Christian Church, Nokomis, Florida. Debby has Ph.D. in Spiritual Formation of the Early Child.

Committees: Executive, Executive Compensation, Strategic Planning and Finance and Audit Committee (Chairman & Treasurer)

Tim Burrell
Board Member

Tim Burrell
Board Member

Tim Burrell was appointed to the Christian Horizons Board in 2014.

Tim currently serves as Medical Director for IBM Watson Health, a healthcare consultancy firm that provides health data and data analytic services to federal government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Prior to his current position he managed an emergency medicine and urgent care professional group.

Tim holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee and he completed a Michigan State University-affiliated emergency medicine residency.

Tim is a member of the Ellettsville Christian Church in Ellettsville, Indiana where he has served as Small Group Leader, Deacon and Elder. The son of missionary parents who moved to Brazil in 1970, Tim spent his formative years abroad prior to returning to the U.S. to attend college. He and his wife, Flávia, have been married since 1989 and have three children who live in Seattle, New York, and Nashville, Tennessee. Flávia is a realtor.

Committees: Executive, Strategic Planning, Mission Integration and Compliance & Quality Improvement Committees (Chairman).

Jeany Dunaway
Board Member

Jeany Dunaway
Board Member

Jeany Dunaway is a Registered Nurse, practicing for 34 years. Since 2009, she has also been the administrator of the Effingham Ambulatory Surgery Center. Jeany leads the center and is responsible for oversight of policies/procedures; committees, including Infection control, quality, safety, pharmacy, education, risk management, equipment and patient experience; building and equipment maintenance; and medical and clinical staff oversight. She has been the leader during many CMS, Illinois Department of Health and other accrediting body surveys. Jeany is the current president of the Illinois ASC Association and in serving on the board of the association, has organized several of its meetings and clinical education. She has also been a conference presenter for OR Excellence and Becker’s ASC Conferences.

Jeany lives with her dog in rural Beecher City, Illinois, and is a member of the Beecher City Church of Christ, where she serves on the Outreach Committee. She has four children and two grandchildren. Her youngest child just began her education at Loyola University in Chicago. In her spare time, she loves boating with her family, travel and reading.

Brenda Eden
Board Member

Brenda Eden
Board Member

Brenda M. Eden was elected to Christian Horizons Board in November 2019.

Brenda began her career as a Registered Nurse in ICU in 1990 at Decatur Memorial Hospital (DMH) in Decatur, Illinois, and obtained her M.S. in Nursing in 1995. Her career experience includes Cardiovascular Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) at Carle Clinic in Urbana, Illinois, and Prairie Cardiovascular, Ltd in Decatur. She served as the VP of Nursing at DMH, Director of Nursing at BroMenn Healthcare in Bloomington, Illinois, and Magnet Status co-leader for Memorial Medical Center, in Springfield, Illinois. In her role as Clinical Nurse Specialist, she conducted multiple research studies, which were published in scientific journals. She began a Pain Management Certification program for nurses and is nationally certified in Pain Management. She has written multiple grants for nursing funding and was recognized for Nursing Excellence as an APN.

Brenda received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, summa cum laude, at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and a M.S. in Nursing at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She has presented her research at both state and national levels. She has served in various capacities on boards, including the YMCA, United Way, New Life Pregnancy Center, and Nursing Excellence for Macon County. Brenda retired in 2019.

Brenda and her husband, Joseph live in Decatur, Illinois, where they are active in their church. They have led and participated in medical missions in Kenya, Africa numerous times. Her hobbies include gardening, sewing, and activities with her grandchildren.

Committees: Board Development & Nominating, Mission Integration and Finance & Audit

Steve Gnuse
Board Member

Steve Gnuse
Board Member

Steve Gnuse was elected to the Christian Horizons Board in 2015.

Steve has been involved in Commercial Banking in the Springfield, Illinois, market for nearly 40 years. He has spent the past 17 years with Town and Country Bank, where he acts as the Springfield Market President.

Steve received a BS in Finance from The University of Illinois. He currently serves on the Board of Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Illinois, where he has served in many capacities including President and Treasurer during his 36 years on the Board.

Steve and his wife, Linda live in Springfield, Illinois, where they are both active in their church. They like to travel and spend time with their nine grandchildren.

Committees: Board Development & Nominating, Executive Compensation and Finance & Audit

Terry Goodner
Board Member

Terry Goodner
Board Member

Terry Goodner has served on the Christian Horizons Board since 2002.

Terry has retired from education after 36 years. He was employed at Oakwood High School and Effingham High School as a guidance counselor as well as a Junior High Math and Social Studies teacher at Cissna Park Junior High School. He served as Chairman of the Vermilion County Student Services Committee for 21 years and was a consultant for the Vermilion Vocational Education Delivery System (VVEDS) and as an Advisor at Danville Area Community College.

Terry graduated from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, with a Bachelor of Science in Junior High Education and a Master of Science in Guidance and Counseling. He is a Charter Member of the Oakwood Education Foundation and served as President and Treasurer of the Unit 76 Teachers Caucus.

Terry and his wife, Cathy, live in Mahomet, Illinois. They have a son, Jason, as well as five grandchildren. After recently leaving CrossRoads Christian Church in Danville, Illinois, where Terry served as an Elder, Treasurer, Small Group Leader, and Sunday School Teacher they now attend Mahomet Christian Church and are connecting to a new congregation. Terry enjoys sports with the Cubs, Bears, Yankees, and the Fighting Illini, daily walks where he reflects and police the neighborhood for litter, and spending time with family and friends.

Committees: Board Development & Nominating, Mission Integration and Compliance & Quality Improvement.

Terry previously served as Board Secretary and as Chairman of the Quality Improvement and Compliance Committee. He also served on the Steering Committee at Pleasant Meadows Christian Village from 1993 to 2013 as a Committee Member, Secretary, and Chairman

Tom Kerins
Board Member

Tom Kerins
Board Member

Tom Kerins was elected to the Christian Horizons Board in 2014.

Tom was employed by Walker Information in Indianapolis for 20 years serving for the last 10 years as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He moved to Arizona in 1994 working for 10 years as a Certified Financial Planner before accepting an Executive Director position with Christian Care, a leading provider of Senior Living in Arizona retiring in 2013.

Tom earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Western Michigan University and a Master of Business Administration in Taxation & Tax Planning from Indiana University. He was a CPA licensed in Indiana and Arizona.

Tom currently services on the Board of the Christian Care Foundation in Phoenix. He previously served on the Board of the Visiting Nurse Foundation in Indianapolis.

Tom and his wife, Shirley, live in Gilbert, Arizona, where they are both active at Central Christian Church. They have four adult children and two grandchildren who all live in the west.

Committees: Executive Compensation, Finance & Audit and Board Development & Nominating (Chairman)

Susan Klein
Board Member

Susan Klein
Board Member

Susan Klein, M.D., was elected to the Board in 2018.

Susan has been practicing as a faculty member at SIU Decatur Family Medicine Residency for the past 22 years and retired on November 1, 2020. Prior to working there, she practiced in a private practice for six years in Clinton, Illinois, where she was co-director of two nursing homes and admitted to a third. She, along with her husband and another couple, have begun a nonprofit which is organized to restore a historic building in Clinton, Illinois, and will use it to begin a holistic wellness center.

Susan went to the University of Illinois where she obtained her B.S. in Biology pre-med. She then attended the University of Illinois-Chicago Medical School and then did her Family Medicine Residency in Decatur, Illinois at Southern Illinois University - Center for Family Medicine – Decatur. She previously served on a board for medical missions – COPE – as secretary for three years. She just finished a two-year master’s course through Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, Illinois, on Spiritual Formation.

Susan and her husband of 37 years, Ken, have three daughters and a son. They attend First Christian Church in Clinton and have served on leadership committees. Susan also leads spiritual discipline retreats at FCC, Little Galilee Camp and the Chiara Center. She spends most of her extra time at her nonprofit organizing fundraising events. Her hobbies include cooking, acrylic painting, sewing, and other needle crafts.

Committees: Mission Integration and the Compliance & Quality Improvement

David Sandefur
Board Member

David Sandefur
Board Member

David W. Sandefur was elected to the Christian Horizons Board in 2019.

Dave was employed for nearly 34 years by Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative in Bloomington, Indiana. He served in several engineering and management capacities retiring as Vice President of Corporate Engineering in 2019. During retirement, Dave works as the Principal Engineer/Owner of Constans Energy Consulting, LLC advising clients in the electric utility and energy sectors.

Dave received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from Ball State University. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Indiana and has served on the Board of the North American Transmission Forum (2016-19), and the Advisory Board for Algaeon (2009-2012).

Dave and his wife, Kathy live in Ellettsville, Indiana where they are both active in the Ellettsville Christian Church. They have three adult children. Dave has done volunteer work for Engineering Ministries International and enjoys traveling and hiking.

Committees: Executive Compensation and Compliance & Quality Improvement.

Marcus Thomas
Board Member

Marcus Thomas
Board Member

Marcus H. Thomas was elected to the Christian Horizons Board in 2019.

Marcus currently serves as a Senior Logistics Officer and Commander within the U.S. Army, (he has 34 years in the Army total). He served from 2015-2019 on the Elder Board for East 91st Street Christian Church (Indianapolis, Indiana) and currently serves as Community Lay Director for Crossroads Great Banquet in Indianapolis, Indiana. Marcus achieved personal and professional goals of earning the rank of Colonel, commanding within the Army, and successfully completing the U.S. War College. He was awarded the Indiana Distinguished Service Medal and Bronze Star during Combat Operations in Afghanistan in 2005. Marcus plans to retire from Military Service in May 2022.

Marcus was educated at Oakland City University where he earned a BS – Business Administration, and an MSA - Administration; his highest military education includes, completing the U.S. Army War College (Master’s Degree in Strategy), and completion of national and international studies from the U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington, DC. He served two years on the Board of Safe Families in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Marcus and his wife, Tammie, live in Indianapolis, Indiana where they are both active in their church and co-lead Bible Study Life Groups. His hobbies include, health and fitness, traveling, and "shade tree" automotive repair.

Committees: Board Development & Nominating, Mission Integration and Development.

Doug Wiley
Board Member

Doug Wiley
Board Member

Douglas G. Wiley has served on the Christian Horizons Board since March 2017.

Doug was employed as a Human Resources Executive for more than 40 years. He retired from Suddenlink Communication where he served as the Senior Vice President Human Resources. As a 40-year member of the Society for Human Resources Management, Doug has served in a variety of industries, from healthcare and communications to transportation and law enforcement.

Doug has a master’s degree in Personnel Administration from Lindenwood University, a bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice from University of Missouri St Louis and an associate degree in Law Enforcement from Florissant Valley Community College.

Doug serves as a Board Member at Harvester Christian Church in St. Charles, Missouri, where he has been a member since 1981. except for a period from 1996 to 2000 following a relocation for work to New Jersey where he attended and served as a Board Member for Parsippany Christian Church.

Doug and his wife have been married for 52 years and reside in St Charles, Missouri. They have two adult children who live in St Charles and Mississippi. Doug enjoys assisting people who are seeking employment opportunities.

Committees: Executive, Executive Compensation, Nominating, Strategic Planning, and Development (Chairman)