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Article: "Easing Tensions in the Nursing Home"
Santa Cruz Sentinel
SANTA CRUZ -- To friends and co-workers, Kathleen Johnson is an inspiring leader and tireless advocate for elderly care, which is why they nominated her for this year's National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform national advocacy award.
Johnson is the executive director of Advocacy Inc., a nonprofit agency that serves Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. The organization operates the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and the Patients' Rights Advocate Program, which advocate for the rights of nursing home and assisted living facilities and for the rights of mental health patients, respectively.
"Our agency under her leadership has done a lot to benefit our community," said Linda Robinson, coordinator of the Ombudsman Program and one of the people who nominated Johnson for the award. "When I saw the categories for these nominations and one was for advocacy efforts, she came to mind because Kathleen is the ultimate advocate."
Johnson won the Howard Hinds Memorial Award, which she'll accept Oct. 25 at the coalition's national convention in Washington, D.C.
"We had some really wonderful applications this year," said Janet Wells, the coalition's public policy director. "I remember looking at Kathleen's nomination and being extremely impressed with the enthusiasm of the people who nominated her."
Wells said the organization recognizes such advocates each year because people such as Johnson do "extraordinary work" on behalf of long-term care residents yet rarely are recognized for such work.
Johnson, a UC Santa Cruz alumna, has worked with Advocacy Inc. for 11 years, leading the agency, advocating on the local and state level and fundraising. Winning the award, she said, was a surprise.
"The fact that the people I work with think so highly of me that they would undertake this is the most meaningful thing," she said. "This recognition at the national level is a recognition for our whole ombudsman program."
To Robinson, Johnson's statement that the award goes to everyone in the program is characteristically humble.
"That's something Kathleen would say," Robinson said. "It just goes to show what kind of a person she is."