Mather LifeWays Building

CliftonLarsonAllen and LeadingAge are pleased to announce that Mather LifeWays of Evanston, Illinois, is the 2012 Pathways to Greatness honoree.

Mather LifeWays Receives 2012 Pathways to Greatness Honor

  • 10/25/2012

Mather LifeWays (MLW) of Evanston, Illinois, is the 2012 recipient of Pathways to Greatness honors from CliftonLarsonAllen and LeadingAge. From its dynamic organizational culture (brought to life by bright orange corporate colors and a playful attitude) to its financial strength and focus on quality and wellness, MLW scored high in all of the “areas of greatness” that are the foundation of the Pathways to Greatness Program.

Now in its sixth year, Pathways to Greatness is sponsored by CliftonLarsonAllen and the LeadingAge network of nonprofit organizations. The program recognizes quality, innovation, and impact in aging-services organizations.

Founded in 1941, Mather LifeWays is dedicated to developing and implementing Ways to Age WellSM. The multifaceted nonprofit organization offers senior living residences, neighborhood programs, and research and education through its Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging.

“We are truly honored to be recognized on this national level for our commitment to quality and our ongoing efforts to create innovative services for older adults,” said Mather LifeWays President and CEO Mary Leary.

The Mather LifeWays culture

At the center of MLW’s organizational culture is a foundation of empowering employees to create an interesting, productive, playful, and energizing workplace. The result is a personalized experience for residents and customers.

Employees are encouraged to remove barriers that prevent them from trying new things, to celebrate successes, and to take pride in their association with MLW. Throughout the organization, the color orange has become a rallying point and a mark of distinction that reminds everyone of what makes MLW different. This consistent branding is at the core of MLW’s image with all of its audiences.

“Many leaders in the older adult services industry have heard about the unique approach Mather LifeWays takes in delivering services and engaging older adults,” says Michael F. Slavik, leader of CliftonLarsonAllen’s national senior living practice. “What is even more interesting is how Mather LifeWays’ unique culture translates into high employee and resident satisfaction and creates an empowered workforce with an openness to change.”

The language of possibilities

At Mather LifeWays facilities, administrators are “experience directors,” a cook becomes a “manager of culinary delight,” public areas are “possibilities spaces” and “experience centers,” and the management team is the “possibilities team.”

MLW believes this distinctive language surprises people in a positive way and engages them in conversation. For example, you won’t find the word “Repriorment™” in a dictionary, but it has a very real meaning for MLW residents. Repriorment is the act of embracing a new, worry-free lifestyle by rediscovering the joy of long-forgotten pursuits often pushed to the side earlier in life.

Organizational focus on quality

MLW communities span the breadth of senior living options, from the Mather Pavilion skilled nursing community in Evanston, to the continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) in Tucson (Splendido) and Evanston (The Mather), and the intimate neighborhood convenience of Mather Place of Wilmette, an independent living community in Illinois.

MLW also takes its mission into the neighborhoods where older adults live. Three Chicagoland Mather’s — More Than a Café locations serve meals and support older adults in continuing to live, work, contribute, and play.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has given The Mather’s Life Centre, and Mather Pavilion five-star ratings following its annual survey on a variety of quality and performance metrics.

Financial strength

While five Chicago-area CCRCs filed for bankruptcy during the recent recession, Mather LifeWays benefits from a generous endowment that has allowed it to grow and continue undertaking innovative endeavors. Its leaders have adopted a conservative and thoughtful approach to the use of both endowment and resident funds. It includes:

  • Strong stewardship of the endowment
  • A financially sustainable operating model
  • Strong debt management
  • Collaborative cost cutting
  • Strong lender relationships

Wellness and caregiver support

Healthy employees stay on the job longer, perform better, and serve customers with greater enthusiasm. MLW offers a variety of wellness programs to increase and sustain healthy behaviors, and encourage employees and customers to try new things. Nearly 90 percent of employees who participated in health screenings at MLW’s annual wellness fair say they have made positive lifestyle changes as a result. Employees are offered discounts on health insurance premiums when they make certain lifestyle changes and enhance wellness. In 2011, employees showed improvement in 18 out of 22 key health risk factors.

In 2000, MLW implemented a demonstration project to provide online guidance and resources for employees who are caregivers for older adults. Other employers soon recognized the value of such programs, and MLW has since assisted in implementing caregiver support programs in six Fortune 100 companies with employees in 11 countries.


CliftonLarsonAllen and LeadingAge congratulate Mather LifeWays, its board, experience directors, staff, and employees on receiving the 2012 Pathways to Greatness recognition. We encourage you to learn more about the initiatives described above and other endeavors of Mather LifeWays by calling 847-492-7500 or visiting

Learn more about Mather LifeWays 

Download our white paper, 2012 Pathways to Greatness: A Recognition Program for Aging Services Organizations.

Nicole O. Fallon, Health Care Consultant Manger or 612-376-4843