Executive director for the Village at WRJ leads a series of senior care staff shake-ups in Valley

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/21/2021 10:06:20 PM
Modified: 1/21/2021 10:06:18 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The Village at White River Junction has named its third executive director since it opened 18 months ago.

Nikki Fortier, a longtime Upper Valley resident who has worked for the senior living facility since it opened, replaces Jodi Egger, who led the organization since June 2019 and returned to Florida to care for her elderly parents, said Brooke Ciardelli, one of the managing owners of The Village.

“With the impact of COVID on everyone’s lives, she just felt like she couldn’t be that far apart from family,” Ciardelli said of Egger, who was initially hired as interim manager, replacing the first manager, Sandy Conrad. “Initially she was going to be a bridge and then it sort of extended on a bit longer, but that was all pre-COVID.”

Fortier previously served as the director of community engagement and the business office manager before beginning as executive director on Jan. 1. She worked for the Hartford Chamber of Commerce before working at The Village.

“It feels like a natural fit to step into this position with the strong team we have in place,” Fortier said.

Fortier said The Village, which has 89 beds, is at about 60% to 65% capacity, and Ciardelli said new residents have come to live there each month since the pandemic began. Residents are in the process of being vaccinated.

“We’re focused on the day-to-day social and spiritual health largely on a one-on-one basis until we can move through this,” Fortier said.

In other senior care provider news, The Scotland House — an adult day provider in Quechee — is looking for a new executive director. The nonprofit organization has been led by Gretchen Cole, who has been its executive and program director since it opened in the renovated Scotland-by-the-Yard space on Route 4 in November 2018.

It is currently closed for in-person care due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cole is leaving to oversee the memory care unit at The Village.

“I really just think it was the opportunity,” Cole said. “I really had no intentions of leaving Scotland House. I was not job-searching.”

Scotland House had initially planned to reopen on Nov. 30, but state guidelines changed due to rising cases in Vermont. Now, staff are tentatively planning for spring, Cole said. Board president Jeff Dillon will serve as interim executive director.

“It’s so bittersweet because I still firmly believe and support the mission of the Scotland House. I’m their biggest cheerleader,” she said. “The concept of adult day is so important and so needed in the Upper Valley.”

Senior Solutions, the Council on Aging Southeastern Vermont, which serves older adults in Windsor and Windham counties, is also looking for an executive director after longtime leader Carol Stamatakis announced her plans to resign in November and will be staying on until a replacement is found.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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