Dan Johnson, president and CEO of Catholic Eldercare, is overseeing care initiatives and construction projects — including a new independent living complex — that have earned him top leadership honors from an industry association.

Johnson received the Kal Michels Outstanding Leadership Award earlier this year from LeadingAge Minnesota, an association of more than 1,000 organizations that serve nearly 70,000 Minnesota seniors.

Catholic Eldercare, a nonprofit based in northeast Minneapolis, offers transitional care, assisted living, adult day-care programs, skilled nursing care and memory care.

The latest addition is Wyndris, a 69-unit market-rate senior apartment project, which Johnson said will open this fall. Other recent projects include a 40,000-square-foot addition that houses transitional care and rehabilitation.

“We lacked an apartment community for those who are 62 and older who are independent but might need or want some services eventually,” said Johnson, who also helped create an award-winning community engagement program for older adults.

Johnson joined Catholic Eldercare in 2009 from HealthPartners, where he worked in professional development and care improvement. He began his career as a physical therapist before working in teaching and administrative roles at St. Catherine University.

The award Johnson received from LeadingAge Minnesota recognizes “a leader in older adult services who has provided excellent leadership to their employees and organization, enhances the quality of life for residents in the community and provides exceptional community service.”

Q: What differentiates Catholic Eldercare?

A: We will offer a full set of housing and service options that would allow older adults to live in community and to life fully their whole life and bring around them anything they might need to do that. We’re contained in Northeast and we’re downtown. If you have an issue or a need, you get access to whatever you need because we’re all here.

Q: Do you anticipate more construction?

A: We’re seeing so much being built now. The risk is overbuilding. … More and more we want to see care happen in home. I think that’s going to be increasingly our focus and the focus of many in the industry. How can we help people stay at home longer without having to incur such high costs.

Q: What do you like about working in aging services?

A: My maternal grandmother became blind as an adult. She lived independently and took care of my grandfather in their home in the ’50s when that was not necessarily the routine. I so admired her spirit — just fearless. That has caused me to see older adults in a little different light. Oftentimes, we are a youth culture and we don’t necessarily value those who are older. I find it a privilege to step into an arena where I might contribute to a reversal of that.

Todd Nelson