Jan Thayer Pioneer Award

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Jan Thayer​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​NCAL created the Jan Thayer Pioneer Award to recognize individuals who have moved the senior care profession forward, positively affecting the lives of those served and those who serve. Recipients must demonstrate dedication, leadership and considerable contributions to the senior care profession. 

The Jan Thayer Pioneer Award is posthumously named after the first Board Chair of NCAL and assisted living owner and operator Jan Thayer.  ​​

Strong candidates for the award exemplify the following types of contributions: 
  • Recognized champion and leader of person-centered care in assisted living and senior living communities.
  • Demonstrated ability to educate and advocate for the senior care profession at a national level. 
  • Recognized systems or practices that have resulted in significant quality improvement, prosperous operational outcomes, or an enriching workforce environment.  
  • Recognized as a catalyst for innovative approaches that enhance the overall customer experience and/or move the senior care profession forward.
​​​​​​​​​​​​​The recipient of the Jan Thayer Pioneer Award is honored in front of thousands of their peers at the AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo. ​

 2021 Jan Thayer Pioneer Award

Link-Gelles_CC_CDC_3973cc6.jpgRuth Link-Gelles, PhD

Dr. Link-Gelles, a Doctoral Epidemiologist and was in charge of the CDC’s Pharmacy Partnership for LTC, is the 2021 recipient of the Jan Thayer Pioneer Award by NCAL. Under her leadership, nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country had access to vital COVID-19 vaccines in just a few short months. She developed this program quickly and with very few resources, resulting in a tremendously successful, monumental public health program with life-saving results. She was also incredibly supportive of LTC, engaging with the community and always making herself available to stakeholders.

​​Nominations are now being accepted!

Nominations will be open April 7- June 9, 2023​.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Nomination Process

Selection Process:
  • June 7, 2019: Nominations are due via NCAL’s online submission form
  • July 2019: The NCAL Executive Committee meets via conference call to review the nominations and select the candidate.
    • Candidates are selected based on the attributes outlined above.
    • The candidate receiving a majority of the votes will be selected as the Jan Thayer Pioneer Award recipient. 
  • August 1, 2019: The award recipient will be notified. All nominators of candidates who were not selected will be notified.
Nomination Submission: 

The nomination submission is a three-step process: 

  1. Notify the candidate you would like to nominate them for the award.
  2. Attain a copy of their resume or CV for submission.
  3. Submit the nomination form for the candidate via the online submission form.


​The recipient of the Jan Th​ayer Pioneer Award will be honored in front of thousands of their peers at the AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo. The award will be presented during NCAL Day and the Closing General Session. The recipient and their one guest also receive complimentary:
  • Registration to Convention and NCAL Day
  • Round-trip, economy airfare
  • 5-night hotel accommodations
  • Per diem
  • Tickets to Gala Dinner & Show 

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Nomination Requirements


  • Nominations must be submitted by an individual with an organization that is a member in good standing of AHCA/NCAL.
  • Candidates for the award are not required to be NCAL members.
  • Candidates must be individuals; organizations will not be considered.
  • Nominators must notify the candidates of their nomination. 
  • Only one nomination is accepted per candidate. If multiple nominations are submitted for one person, the nominators will be asked to combine nominations or the first nomination will be accepted.  
  • The nomination must be 500 words or less; nominations exceeding 500 words will not be reviewed. 
  • The nomination must reference the nominee’s national impact. 
  • The candidate’s resume must be three pages or less; resumes exceeding three pages will not be reviewed.