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Omaha’s ICAN event draws about 2,500 and recognizes leader in elder care industry

By: - May 18, 2022 3:34 pm

Julie Kaminski, chief operating officer of Immanuel elder care services (Courtesy of Immanuel)

OMAHA — Julie Kaminski, whose work in the elder care industry touches Nebraska, Iowa and beyond, received the ICAN Leadership Award Wednesday at a conference that drew about 2,500 participants.

Three-fourths attended in person at the CHI Health Center. The 29th annual event, also offered virtually, included people from 323 companies and 37 states.

As chief operations officer at Omaha-based Immanuel, Kaminski provides strategic leadership for elder-related services spanning a region that also includes Lincoln, Des Moines and Council Bluffs.

Representatives of ICAN (Institute for Career Advancement Needs) say Kaminski reflects the four “C” traits that the leadership award recognizes: collaboration, compassion, confidence and creativity. Kiewit Corp. and ICAN created the award in 2015.

“Julie’s advocacy for the elderly, her focus on innovative care for those with chronic health challenges and her leadership at Immanuel through the pandemic demonstrate both creativity and collaboration,” said Aileen Warren, who earlier this year was named president and CEO of ICAN.

Aileen Warren pic
Aileen Warren, ICAN president and CEO (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

Warren added that Kaminski builds personal connections with both staff and the elderly populations she serves. 

Several of Kaminski’s Immanuel colleagues supported her nomination, saying in letters that she provides grace, support and honesty to all situations. They noted her advocacy work both locally and nationally.

Kaminski used innovative ways, colleagues said, to stem COVID-19 outbreaks at Immanuel’s 20 service locations and to keep staff motivated.

Her work with seniors began in high school, when Kaminski worked as a dietary aide in a nursing home. She moved up to a kitchen position while working in college. Though she pursued a business-related degree, she shifted her sights to gerontology after a professor and mentor told her the elder care industry needed her compassion.

“It made me realize that you never know who’s going to impact people or impact you,” she said. 

Kaminski said she has mentored others and has gladly accepted mentorship from others, including elderly residents of Immanuel communities.

She said she has never forgotten the words of one mentor who stressed the value of being present, or focused on the person at hand, even as a multitude of demands tries to steal thoughts.

“Wherever your feet are, that is where you should be,” Kaminski said, recalling the advice.

Kaminski said she is proud that most Immanuel communities serve those who are Medicare eligible as well as independent seniors through the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, which enables nursing home-qualified individuals to remain at home.

ICAN was founded 41 years ago to help develop leadership. Nearly 4,000 women and men have graduated from ICAN programs.

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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics. She has won awards from organizations including Great Plains Journalism, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) and the Associated Press. Cindy has been recognized by various nonprofits for community contributions and diversity efforts. She chairs the board that oversees the local university’s student newspaper.

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