After stepping up as interim leader of Wexner Heritage Village in August, Chris Christian has been promoted to president and chief operating officer at the senior health care and housing organization in Columbus.
Christian has worn many hats since joining the team at WHV in March 1997, most recently serving as senior vice president of residential living.
“I love the history of the organization,” he said, noting it was started in the early 1950s with a “small, kind of a grassroots approach.”
“Some folks got together, they bought a home on Woodland Avenue, they hired some caregivers, the people from the community came, and so, really, it was sort of a pioneer in senior living at that time,” Christian explained. “The organization has always been very forward-thinking, and we hope to continue to do that.”
WHV board chair Mark Yale said, from the moment Christian became interim leader, “he has demonstrated his strong commitment and dedication” to the organization.
Yale also listed “numerous positive changes,” Christian has affected across the campus, “including financial stability, staffing excellence and a 4-Star clinical rating in-house, improved kosher dining, a strengthened hospice program, stronger community partnerships and communications, positive internal culture and trusted leadership to the staff.”
But, according to Christian, there is still a lot of work to do. The organization is currently involved in a strategic planning process Christian believes will take up to eight months to complete.
“(We) hope to wrap that up with the plans for the WHV of the future,” Christian said. “It’s always an exciting time in any process like that where you’re looking ahead, but the past year has been really exceptional for the organization.”
Wexner Heritage Village Senior Rabbi Debbie Lefton described Christian as a constant advocate for the organization’s residents and patients.
Christian “is devoted to the Jewish faith-based mission and understands the importance of maintaining Jewish values and traditions on campus as a Jewish community agency,” Lefton said. “We couldn’t have found a more devoted person to lead the team into the future working ethically and with enthusiasm for superior senior care.”
Having been at the organization for nearly 23 years, Christian still considers himself “the new guy to some of the folks around here.”
“You find a lot of people here, frankly, with my kind of tenure,” Christian explained. “Once you’re here and you see how (the work) can impact someone’s life in such a meaningful way, it becomes very personal.”
Many of his colleagues have become so connected to the work that it has “meshed in who they are and they can’t see themselves doing anything other than this,” Christian added. “I’m like those folks. I can’t see myself at this point doing anything else.”
When he eventually does leave WHV, Christian believes he will be a better version of the person who first entered the organization’s doors.
“I will have taken so much more than I’ve left because of the people that I’ve been able to meet,” Christian said. “That’s the gift of the work.”