Ardenwoods certainly has no shortage of influential, noteworthy and awe-inspiring women in its community — from residents to staff to leadership — and Women’s History Month, celebrated each year in March, is the perfect time to recognize our very own leading ladies.
“Our leadership team is nine folks, and six of those nine are women,” said Executive Director Pam Pate. “That’s not the case in every business, to see those kinds of numbers.”
In fact, across all departments of Ardenwoods’ community, “we have a really strong group of women,” Pate continued. “Women are really well-suited to work in senior housing, because — generally speaking — women bring compassion and kindness to the job but they’re also able to really get things done. I feel lucky to work with such a great team of women every day.”
Pate herself has been with the community since 2002. As Ardenwoods’ longest-tenured staff member, she was originally hired on as the accounting director, having previously worked in accounting in the manufacturing industry.
“I wanted a job where I could use my accounting skills but have more interaction with people, and senior housing seemed like a great option for that,” she explained. “I actually grew up in Mills River, so I drove by Ardenwoods often, and it seemed like a great fit for me.”
After taking on the role, Pate began getting to know the residents and their families while also taking care of the financial operations of the business — learning all about retirement community structures and different residential models around the country.
“It was great to make those connections that I didn’t really have before,” Pate said. Not only that, but in this line of work “every single day brings a new challenge, a new opportunity — and I like that variety. Even though I’m going on my 21st year here, something will happen today that hasn’t happened any other day in the last 21 years.”
During her time leading accounting, Pate found herself filling in as the interim executive director on a few separate occasions. But in 2017, after 15 years with the company, Pate was asked by her predecessor to officially take on the job.
“It just seemed like an easy transition for our staff and for our residents,” she explained. “Changes in leadership are always a big deal for the residents, and it helps when it’s someone familiar, someone leading the community that they already know.”
After nearly six years as Ardenwoods’ executive director, Pate still enjoys spending time with the community and hearing about the many adventures and life accomplishments of each resident. Outside of Ardenwoods, she enjoys spending time with her husband of 39 years, Bob, who works at Pate’s family farm and garden supply store (Valley Ag in Mills River), their two adult children and 2-year-old granddaughter, and the family dog, Beau.
“I just care so much about the community, and I’m so glad I get to be plugged in and involved on so many different levels,” Pate said.