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Future Leader: Jennifer Sodo, Senior Living Market Leader, EUA

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The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of senior housing, skilled nursing, home health, and hospice care. To see this year’s Future Leaders, visit

Jennifer Sodo, senior living market leader at Eppstein Uhen Architects, Inc. (EUA), has been named a 2022 Future Leader by Senior Housing News.

To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40-years-old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for seniors, and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.

Sodo was interviewed by Senior Housing News to talk about her career trajectory and the ways she sees the industry evolving, including the need for reimagined living environments within senior living communities nationwide.

What drew you to this industry?

My family’s experience with dementia drew me to senior living design. When I was in architecture school, my grandma moved into a life plan community and eventually into their dementia wing. I saw the anxiety and guilt my mom experienced placing my grandma somewhere she did not want to be but clearly needed to be.

The community our family chose for my grandma was nicely appointed and had caring employees, but I remember having to ask permission to take her into a completely enclosed garden courtyard when I visited. Yet when I brought her outside, instead of looking down forlornly as she shifted uncomfortably in her wheelchair, I noticed her mood improve and her eyes start to wander as she could feel the warmth of the sun, hear the birds, and watch the flowers and trees sway in the breeze. That was a really powerful moment for me, and I wanted to help more older adults regardless of their physical or cognitive decline have full life experiences through thoughtful design of their environments.

What’s your biggest lesson learned since starting to work in this industry?

Find partners you trust and build meaningful relationships with them. I am an architect, but I have clients, consultants, and colleagues in senior living who I consider great allies, resources, and even friends. Work is more rewarding when you like the people you work with, both in and outside the office. When I started my career, I was self-conscious of asking for too much time or information from anyone outside of traditional project settings, but I’ve found that many people in the industry are eager to share their expertise and passion.

If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of senior living what would it be?

I’d like to see less segregation in living environments – not just the creation of intergenerational communities mixing older adults and other generations, but the design of more communities where we don’t separate residents by independent living, assisted living, and memory care wings or buildings. The segregation of people by “care type” remains limited to some extent by building codes and state regulations – and there are practical reasons for this in design and operations – but I think we need more integrated environments for older adults to improve their social, emotional and even financial wellness.

What do you foresee as being different about the senior living industry looking ahead to 2023?

I think more providers will be rethinking their strategic plans, building designs and operational models based on the ongoing staff shortages, financial uncertainty, construction costs, and increase of nontraditional competitors. The only constant these days is change, and we all need to be proactive in addressing the challenges we face in the senior living industry.

In a word, how would you describe the future of the senior living industry?


What quality must all Future Leaders possess?

A collaborative spirit. While future leaders are identified as high-performing, passionate advocates in senior living, we haven’t gotten here alone. I’ve learned so much from mentors and colleagues, and I owe them many thanks for their gifts of time and knowledge. Whether it’s within our own profession or across disciplines, we need to be willing to listen actively, approach our work with humility, stay curious, and seek continuous improvement in what we do.

If you could give advice to yourself looking back to your first day in the industry, what would it be and why?

Be bold and ask more questions. I’m already a pretty inquisitive person, but I think actively seeking out more diverse perspectives in our market has helped me grow in recent years.

Senior Housing News

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