Her skillset transitioned easily and effectively between different career paths. Dee Novak, a resident of Lake County, is the new senior director of sales and marketing for Lexington Square senior living communities in Lombard and Elmhurst.
With a background in design and successful experience as a designer, Novak owned and operated her own firm while raising her children. When her life took a turn, she recalled, she realized it was time to do something different and was disappointed that she couldn’t be creative in the same way anymore. “Creativity and design had been my passion and my life’s work until then,” she said. Then, a design client of Novak’s, who was the sales and marketing director at a retirement community, told her she believed Novak would be successful in the senior living industry. She said she had enough in her budget to give Novak a two-quarter project. Novak said the opportunity was life-changing.
Novak was pleased and surprised that she could draw upon her existing skillset in her new position. “Everyone has a dream for their life. They know how they want to live. I liked the opportunity to draw that information out of them and present them with an environment where they could live their best life. In order to do that, you have to get to know every individual. It’s very personal as you explore the journey of their lifestyle and their dreams for their life.” Novak continued, “It requires really getting to know and care about people. That’s something I enjoy doing.”
After her six-month trial, Novak accepted a permanent marketing position at a senior living residence in Palatine, the town in which she grew up. “I got to go back and care for the people who had cared for me while I was young and learning…teachers, coaches, parents of friends, priests. So, when they say, ‘you can’t go home again,’ they’re wrong. You can! It was the most amazing experience…Helping them along their journey. The community had never been fully occupied. But with a great team along with love for the town and its people, we were able to reach full occupancy,” she said.
After that, Novak became a transition specialist, traveling the country for various owners and management companies in senior living. “I supported different communities, especially those experiencing changes in owners or operators, keeping sales teams focused on occupancy growth,” Novak said, adding that she enjoys setting teams up for success. “I like that a lot. Then I support, coach, and mentor.”
Early this year, Novak received a call from Dan Harrington, vice president of Lexington Senior Living, inquiring about the possibility of her coming on board. The two had worked with each other before and had mutual respect. “He talked about the management of Lexington and used the word ‘integrity.’ That was really important to me,” she recalled. She accepted the job of senior director of sales and marketing, which was created for her.
Novak said while the focus is on community census for the company, coming out of the pandemic calls upon her expertise in transition. “A lot has changed. Things look different on the other side of this pandemic for prospective residents and their families. Their interests, concerns, and expectations have changed about safety, technology, security, and quality of life. So, we are making sure that we’re able to address all of this.”
Novak is enthusiastic about sharing the lifestyle that Lexington offers. “I have found that most people are hesitant to tell you they’re lonely. At Lexington, the entire team works to build relationships between fellow residents and staff. Every day, you can hear so many ‘good mornings,’ receive compliments on your cute sweater or asked what you’re reading. You don’t get that living alone at home. We are all looking to find joy, friendship and a sense of safety, especially after a year of being sequestered,” she said.
Novak is grateful to have set her career in senior living. “It’s an industry full of good people with good hearts. I feel lucky to be in the senior living industry,” she said.
“We are fortunate to have someone of Novak’s experience, character, passion, and expertise leading our marketing team,” said Harrington.
Lexington Square Lombard and Elmhurst are two of the preeminent senior living communities in Chicago’s western suburbs. Lexington Square Lombard offers independent living, assisted living, memory care, and respite. Lexington Square Elmhurst provides independent living and assisted living. Both have priority access to long-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing care through the Lexington Health Network. For more information visit www.LexingtonSquares.com or call 630-576-4800.