Moravian Manor Communities and Morningstar Living—two faith-based, not-for-profit pillars in senior living in Pennsylvania—are exploring opportunities for working together in a more meaningful, formal way. In a milestone event, Susan Cooper Drabic, Morningstar Living’s President and CEO since 1990, is announcing her retirement within the next several months. The intent to explore an affiliation follows the resourcefulness and bold decision making of the communities’ founding leaders. After the Boards and related task forces conduct their due diligence, should the resolution to affiliate be approved, J. David Swartley, President and CEO of Moravian Manor Communities, would take on the key leadership role for both Life Plan Communities.

“One of the fundamental benefits of exploring an affiliation with Moravian Manor Communities is that our two entities are sister organizations and are very culturally aligned,” stated Drabic. “Both communities were founded by the Eastern District of the Moravian Church. As such, we have always maintained a very collegial relationship. This feels like a very natural progression so we can continue to be successful 30 years from now.”

Drabic continued, “We take strategic planning very seriously to meet and exceed the expectations of our resident customers. What will not change for either community is our mission, vision, values, and our philosophy of care and service. These tenets are based upon building strong and respectful relationships between residents and staff, as well as with the families, friends of the residents, and clients we serve. These values are the hallmark of our existence and are virtually timeless.”

Per Swartley, “Because of our faith connection, our two communities have collaborated for a number of years, sharing best practices, policies and the like to best serve our resident and staff population. What is so attractive in forming this alliance is that we have strong leadership teams…teams that synergistically could help move both organizations forward and secure our positioning for the future. Affiliating would allow us to harness those strengths for the better, while each entity maintains its autonomy and operates similarly in how residents receive services today.”

According to Rev. Melissa Johnson, President of the Eastern District Synod of the Moravian Church, “By virtue of the bylaws for Moravian Manor Communities and Morningstar Living, there is a shared seat on both Boards.” Johnson currently holds this position. “Over the years, both communities have created a culture that is admired in the market. And their Boards have sought to identify strategic alliances to strengthen and secure a positive future for residents and team members. Both communities are of similar size and strength, with a mission, vision and values that align naturally.”

Rick Jackson, Chairperson of Moravian Manor Communities’ Board of Trustees, shared, “As federal funding cuts and other market challenges continue to squeeze senior care, it’s getting harder to be a standalone organization. Now more than ever, there is a need for faith-based, not-for-profit organizations to work together more collaboratively. This redefined relationship could give us a stronger voice, while creating efficiencies with operations such as IT and back-of-office expenses to stand the test of time.”

“Affiliating would be an exciting opportunity and of paramount importance to Morningstar Living with Sue Drabic’s retirement,” said Christian Brown, Morningstar Living Board Chairperson. “This would help ensure continuity of leadership that wholly grasps our mission and culture. We are grateful for her exemplary and visionary leadership over the years, and for the legacy that she now leaves in our care to continue positively impacting and advancing services for older adults.”

Both boards will continue with their comprehensive exploratory process and consider resolutions to proceed with a potential affiliation over the next several months. Announcements will follow as to a final decision. If the resolutions to affiliate are passed by both Boards, leadership anticipates paperwork to be filed in late winter hoping for regulatory approval and consent by Spring. Swartley would begin his new role as joint President and CEO at the time of Drabic’s retirement.

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About Morningstar Living

Morningstar Living is a faith-based, not-for-profit Life Plan and Life Care Community located in the center of historic Nazareth, PA. In concept, the community began in the 1970s by the Eastern District of the Moravian Church. It was incorporated in 1984 and opened in 1988 as the first continuing care retirement community to be built in Northampton County. 

Susan Cooper Drabic, MBA, NHA, PCHA, Certified Retirement Housing Professional, came to Nazareth in 1987 to help start what was then Moravian Hall Square, serving as the first administrator for the nursing home and personal care. In 1990, she became the President & CEO. Under her leadership, she has led the organization through many land development and redevelopment initiatives to build and improve housing, amenities and health care services for older adults. Today, Morningstar Living is comprised of the original Moravian Hall Square retirement community—offering residential living, assisted living, memory care, nursing care and short-term rehab—and Heritage Village (opened in 2018), an active adult community. Morningstar Living also operates Morningstar Senior Solutions, a home care and geriatric care management business. Morningstar Living is home to 430 residents and 425 team members.