Who’s who of Mather LifeWays

Mather LifeWays Possibilities Team comprises an energetic and pioneering group of professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences—all very much dedicated to advancing our mission of creating Ways to Age WellSM.

The Possibilities Team aligns their efforts with our vision—to be a leader in transforming how society enables older adults to Age Well by valuing older adults as individuals; engaging them in mind, body, and spirit; and connecting them in their communities.

Mary Leary

Mary Leary

President and Chief Executive Officer

Mary brings more than 20 years of leadership experience in senior living, health care, and long-term care to guide Mather LifeWays in expanding its leadership presence in senior living, community-based programs, and applied research and education. Mary joined Mather LifeWays to help further its mission of enhancing the lives of older adults through lifestyle and residential alternatives that create Ways to Age Well. 

Mary previously served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Classic Residence by Hyatt, the senior living affiliate of Hyatt Corporation, where she oversaw day-to-day operations of 15 senior living communities including 4,600 units and more than 2,500 employees. She also provided technical assistance services and sales and marketing oversight for communities under development, valued at more than $600 million. During her 12-year tenure with Classic Residence by Hyatt, Mary rose to the position of COO following successes in operations, sales, and marketing. Prior to her work at Classic Residence by Hyatt, Mary brought her experience to diverse firms in senior living, health care, and long-term care, including Oxford Development Corporation and American Medical International, Inc. 

Under her leadership, Mather LifeWays has received awards and recognition from the National Association of Home Builders, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the American Society on Aging, the National Investment Center, the National Mature Media, the Health Promotion Institute of the National Council on Aging, and more. 

She has served on numerous industry boards, including the Executive Committees of the Boards of the American Seniors Housing Association and the National Association of Senior Living Industries, and the Boards of Caring Communities Insurance Company (CCIC), and Assisted Living Federation of America. Currently, she is a member of the Executive Board of the American Seniors Housing Association, the Operator Advisory Board of the National Investment Center, and serves as Chair of the Risk Committee and is a member of the Executive Committee of CCIC.  Ms. Leary is a founding member of and chairs Novare, a consortium of single site and small system CCRC CEOs. She earned a Master’s Degree in health policy and management from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s Degree in business/health services administration from Cornell University.  

Mary’s passion and dedication make her an inspiring leader of the Possibilities Team, and a real-life example of our Ways to Age Well philosophy. In July 2012, teams from throughout the organization celebrated 10 years of Mary’s outstanding leadership in typical style.


Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

David Kane

Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

David has a diverse background in operations, working with a variety of organizations, including ARA Services, Classic Residence by Hyatt, and his own firm where he provided consulting to hospitality, fitness, and weight loss companies, as well as to clients involved in senior living, development, and property management.

David has worked with multiple senior living communities including Continuing Care Retirement Communities, independent living communities, and health care centers. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Neumann College, an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America, and received his Nursing Home Administrator certification from George Washington University.


Vice President, Finance and Controller

Christopher Manella

Vice President of Finance and Controller

With more than 25 years of experience in financial management, Christopher is responsible for financial statement reporting, budgeting/forecasting and cash management for the organization as a whole.

Before joining Mather LifeWays, Christopher was Director of Accounting for CC Industries, Inc. and also served as a Division Corporate Controller for Flextronics International, a publicly traded company.  Earlier, he was Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance for The Bruss Company.

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Christopher earned his Bachelor’s Degree in accounting from Indiana University and his Master’s Degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.


Gale Morgan

Gale Morgan

Senior Vice President of Sales

Gale is responsible for the coordination and oversight of sales and occupancy efforts for Mather LifeWays senior residences. Gale has also been instrumental in creating industry-specific customer service training programs with Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging.

Gale has nearly 30 years of experience in the senior living industry.  Previously, she served as Assistant Vice President of Sales and Marketing/Training for Classic Residence by Hyatt, where she was responsible for sales and marketing of seven communities, including four Continuing Care Retirement Community start-ups. She also served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Retirement Community Specialists (RCS) and Retirement Living Affiliates.

Gale earned her Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Marketing from the University of Phoenix.


Brenda Schreiber, Senior Vice President of Marketing

Brenda Schreiber

Senior Vice President of Marketing

Brenda leads the Marketing team and is responsible for the marketing efforts that drive business results for the organization while promoting the mission and vision of the company.

Since joining Mather LifeWays in 2000, Brenda has led award-winning marketing efforts and has received various industry honors most recently including a Gold Award for Best Direct Mail campaign from the National Association of Home Builders (2012 and 2013). She was instrumental in the 2012 launch of a state-of-the-art website, which illustrates the ways in which Mather LifeWays creates opportunities for older adults, professionals, caregivers, and employees to Age Well.

Schreiber earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications with an emphasis on public communications and human relations, with a minor in Journalism, from Western Illinois University.


Mary Sullivan

Mary Sullivan

Senior Vice President of Human Resources

Mary brings more than 30 years of experience in human resources management as well as consulting experience for service, distribution, and manufacturing companies.

Prior to joining Mather LifeWays, Mary served as Vice President of Human Resources for Cole-Parmer Instrument Company, a global manufacturer and distributor of specialty instruments, where she oversaw employees in 10 locations worldwide. She has also served as principal at Sullivan and Associates, providing strategic human resources services for a diverse client base, including Rand McNally & Company, Baxter Healthcare, United Airlines, Ameritech, and American Hospital Supply Corporation.

Mary earned her Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from the University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio, and her Master’s Degree in industrial relations from Loyola University of Chicago.


Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Carol Sussenbach, CPA, CFA

Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Carol is responsible for accounting, finance, information technology, and risk management efforts throughout the organization, and oversees more than $450 million in assets as part of the Mather LifeWays Investment Committee.

Carol has more than 30 years of financial management experience and has worked with several Fortune 100 companies, including Swift Independent and Esmark, Inc. Carol began her career in public accounting with Ernst & Young.

Carol earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois and her Master’s Degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.


Senior Vice President of Business Development

Joe Zajdel

Senior Vice President of Business Development

Joe is responsible for all aspects of senior living development projects. Since joining Mather LifeWays in 2003, Joe has played a major role in projects totaling $300 million in development. This includes the flagship community, The Mather, in Evanston, Illinois and a resort-style community, Splendido at Rancho Vistoso, near Tucson, Arizona. Joe has more than 25 years of experience in building design, construction management, and real estate investment and development. Joe’s work for Mather LifeWays has garnered 30 design awards from industry associations including the National Association of Home Builders, Leading Age, the American Institute of Architects, the National Active Retirement Association and the California Building Industry Association. In 2010, Joe was appointed to the National Investment Center’s Future Leaders Council and serves as Liason for its Leadership Development group.

Since 1998, Joe has focused on the development of senior living communities. Prior to joining Mather LifeWays, he served as Assistant Vice President of Development for Classic Residence by Hyatt, where he was responsible for project feasibility and project management for roughly $900 million in senior living development. Joe previously served as Senior Project Manager for Mesirow Stein Real Estate, a full-service development and real estate advisory services firm. While with Stein, Joe served as project manager for the Chicago Board of Trade Financial Trading Floor and provided advisory services to Fortune 100 companies. Prior to that, Joe was Structural Project Manager on the Navy Pier redevelopment in Chicago for Bovis-Schal (now Lend Lease). Joe began his career as a structural engineer with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with notable projects including WLS/ABC TV in Chicago and several buildings within the Bishopsgate development in London.

In addition to earning his Bachelor of Science Degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Joe earned his Master of Business Administration Degree from the University of Chicago with a specialization in finance and a concentration in economics.


Mather LifeWays Board of Directors


Our Board of Directors provides organizational governance oversight and provides assistance in setting strategic direction for the organization. Directors are:

Graham Atkinson, Former Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer, Walgreen Co.

Timothy Burke, Former Partner and Chief Financial Officer, William Blair & Company

Paulette Dodson, Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, PetSmart

Mary Louise Gorno, Managing Director, Ingenuity International

Philip L. Harris, Vice President and General Counsel, Northwestern University

Victoria Herget, Former Managing Director, Zurich Scudder Investments

Dian Langenhorst, Adjunct Faculty, Health Systems Management, Loyola University

Mary Leary, CEO and President, Mather LifeWays

Roger Lumpp II, Mather LifeWays Board Chair and Former Director, KPMG

Michael McGee, Former Partner, Chapman and Cutler LLP

William McLean, Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, Northwestern University

John Phillips, Former CEO and Chairman, Corporate Solutions Group, Jones Lang LaSalle

Scott Smith, Former Publisher, Chicago Tribune and President, Tribune Publishing

Terence Toth, Co-Founding Partner, Promus Capital LLC