Augustana Care Leadership Team
Augustana Care is inspired by the grace and wisdom residents and families share with us every day.
Our commitment is exemplified through compassion, integrity, pride in our work and being responsive to the needs of those we serve. Our leadership team is dedicated to living these values.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Vice President of Operations and COO
Matthew Kern has more than 18 years of leadership experience in the post-acute, skilled nursing and rehabilitation sector, including roles serving non-profit, for profit and multi-facility organizations. He holds a master of business administration from the University of Phoenix and is licensed as a nursing home administrator in multiple states.
Vice President of Senior Development
Katherine Kopp worked more than 25 years in proprietary and nonprofit senior housing organizations. She has extensive experience partnering with public and private entities to develop projects that meet the needs of the community and was involved in development and/or oversight of over 50 senior housing facilities in Minnesota and Colorado.
Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations
With more than 25 years of experience, Dave Saemrow has aided more than 150 communities nationwide with occupancy development plans, including continuing care retirement communities; assisted living and memory care residences; short-term rehabilitation, adult day programs, hospice, therapy and other services. He is responsible for the occupancy growth at Augustana Care and provides expertise in niche development, sales and marketing systems, public relations, brand development and social media while using a broad range of innovative concepts.
Vice President of Information Technology
Corporate Director of Environmental Services
Shabir Walji has been with Augustana Care more than 40 years. He is responsible for planning, organizing, developing, evaluating and effectively directing the environmental services staff and programs in order to ensure a safe and secure environment for all residents, staff and others consistent with regulations and established best practices.
Sharon M. Wilson, RN, CPHQ
Corporate Compliance Officer
Sharon Wilson has worked with Augustana Care 22 years as a unit nurse, in quality management and in staff development. She works with alternative care facilities and programs on compliance, quality management, housing/community based services and clinical support. She is a licensed nursing home administrator, certified in health care quality.
Corporate Director of Nursing Services
Julie Thurn-Favilla has career-long experience in nursing and long-term care. Before arriving at Augustana Care, she was a clinical consultant at CliftonLarsonAllen and director of nursing in a long-term care hospital. Ms. Thurn-Favilla is a registered nurse, certified registered nurse assessment coordinator and an active member of Aging Services of Minnesota.
Corporate Director of Clinical Services
A registered nurse with more than 30 years experience, Jan Kohout is director of clinical services for sixteen Augustana Care assisted living locations. Previously, Jan served older generations as a director of nursing; executive director/director of nursing for a tertiary geriatric psychiatric facility and regional manager of clinical services at an international eldercare organization.
Corporate Director of Purchasing
Mike Bastian’s responsibilities include oversight of vendor relationships, product/vendor selection and contracts. He focuses on standardizing products/services to achieve the best possible service for those we serve. He is also involved with large renovations, site improvements and smaller remodeling projects, and holds a BA in marketing from Loras College in Iowa.
Corporate Food Services Director
George Serra brings over 30 years culinary arts experience to Augustana Care. He worked for Hilton Hotels International, where he was instrumental in hotel start ups in global markets at the Waldorf Astoria and at Hilton’s Los Angeles headquarters. He is one of only 58 internationally certified chefs in the country.
Jeff Placzek has been employed with Augustana Care for thirteen years. His areas of expertise include photography, graphic design, digital layout, web design and marketing. His photography has been featured in local news media and national magazines. He has been producing artwork professionally for more than 25 years. Jeff recently added aerial drone photography and video to his capabilities.
Director of Communications
Jenna Zark joined Augustana Care in 2012. Previous positions include director of development at Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities; communications manager at Resources for Child Caring and director of public relations/development at Melpomene Institute. She is also a published playwright and columnist.
Regional Director of Sales and Marketing
Regional Director of Marketing - Senior Living
Craig McDaniels brings over 10 years of experience in sales and marketing to his role at Augustana Care. His background includes sales and marketing leadership roles in a continuing care retirement community setting, assisted living, memory care and new home communities. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Regional Director of Marketing and Post-Acute Development
Amanda brings more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience to Augustana Care. She began her career in commercial insurance with Lloyd’s of London, transitioned into the health care field in 2001 and never looked back. Amanda graduated summa cum laude from Indiana State University with a bachelor of science degree in human resource development. She and her husband are raising four children. She is passionate about her family and about making a difference in older adults’ lives.
Director of Digital Marketing
Mary Jo Thorne
Regional Director of Housing
Mary Jo Thorne has more than 20 years experience with housing and assisted living settings and oversees various housing locations at Augustana Care. Areas of expertise include market identification; project coordination; section 8 requirements; alternative care, elderly waiver programs and leasing; and market rate, independent, memory care and enhanced assisted living.
Terri LaBerge Berndt
Director of Employee Benefits at Augustana Care
Teri LaBerge Berndt has been with Augustana Care since 2004. She has 30+ years experience in human resources management, with expertise in the areas of employee benefits, compensation/payroll, recruitment/retention, workers compensation and employment law. Her current focus at Augustana is employee benefits and ACA compliance.
Director of Recruitment
Sara has more than 12 years of staffing industry experience recruiting employees in the executive, health care and maintenance fields. She directed career services at Minnesota School of Business, responsible for placement of nurses, medical assistants and health care students. “I’m excited to work with residents at Augustana Care because I want them to experience compassionate care, happiness and respect. I have the opportunity to positively impact residents’ lives by finding employees who embrace the vision of Augustana Care." Sara received a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication from Gustavus Adolphus College and a MBA from Globe University.