providing residents with a beautiful & comfortable place to live, along with the daily care and assistance they require.

Meet Our Staff

We are fortunate to have such a talented, driven and enthusiastic team of professionals committed to fulfilling The Cedars; mission and dedication to serving our residents.

 

Mary Barajas, Executive Director   

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When she joined the Cedars team in 2018, Mary brought a strong background in business and senior housing with her.  She has worked for family owned businesses and she is passionate about the senior living industry, which makes the family owned and operated Cedars a perfect fit for her! Mary is able to see things not only as a manager, but also as a family member – her father passed away at a community where she was working as a Director at the time.  Mary is committed to serving seniors through compassion and respect.  She lives and raised her four children in Owatonna.  In her free time, Mary enjoys travelling and spending time with her family, preferably on the pontoon!  

 

Lisa Nelson, Director of Sales & Marketing   

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Lisa joined The Cedars family in 2011, bringing with her 20 years of experience in client service and 11 years of experience in the senior housing industry. Lisa’s mission is to work with seniors and their families who are searching for a new place to call home.  Lisa’s ongoing education in the senior housing industry helps her make sure that potential and current residents’ needs are not only met – but exceeded. Lisa always puts our residents first and can usually be heard asking “how can I help you?” with a big smile on her face.  Lisa lives in Austin with her family. 

 

Jack Erwin, Dining Services Director 

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Jack has been at The Cedars since 2007. He began his culinary career as a teenager as a cook at the Country Kitchen restaurant in Austin. He moved on to The Plaza Truckstop, and under Kermit Watts became their dinner cook, where he learned how to cook in the style he uses today. It was also there that he started in management. He continued his career in Minneapolis for several years before returning to Austin in 1989 and began cooking and managing food service for Sheriff’s Youth Programs for 18 years. Jack’s 40+ year long career has also included many chef courses and training as well as management training. It has also included a HUGE award - he was honored with the 2014 Ray Johnson Leadership in Action Award from LeadingAge Minnesota!  When Jack joined The Cedars family he discovered, as he puts it, “the joy of working with seniors!” The rewards are great when he sees the smiles and happy faces of the residents he has grown to love.

Jack’s roots are in Austin. Family and the many, many friends he has makes Austin the ideal place to live and work. Jack is also a local celebrity - he is in high demand for cooking demonstrations and shows throughout the area.  And he is an author! Jack assisted in putting together the first edition of the Cedars Cookbook in 2013.  

 

Amber Sanvick, RN, Director of Healthcare

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Amber has been a part of the Cedars family since 2014. She has an associate’s degree in nursing and has been an RN since 2008. Amber loves working with the senior community and has done so since 2003. She is very close to her grandparents, and has always felt a bond with the older generation. Amber likes working at The Cedars because it really feels like home. Amber lives in Austin with her husband and their two daughters. They enjoy canoeing and camping.

 

Cathy Ehley, Recreation/Wellness Director & Dementia Care Counselor 

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Cathy has been at the Cedars since 2005. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Therapeutic Recreational Therapy and is certified through the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals as an Activity Director with a specialization in memory care activities. She is also a member of the Minnesota Statewide Activity Professionals Association and the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation. She also holds a certificate from Leading Age of Minnesota and the Alzheimer’s Association in Dementia Care.  She is constantly continuing her education in therapeutic recreation and in dementia.  Cathy’s mission is to enrich the lives of our residents through meaningful activities.  She loves seeing their smiling faces enjoying the activities that are provided.  Cathy is passionate about helping families go through the journey of the memory loss of their loved one. It is difficult and she doesn't want anyone to go through it alone. Cathy's passion and commitment to our residents shows - she was named as a Caregiver of the Year by LeadingAge Minnesota in 2014 - an AMAZING honor that is so well deserved! Cathy lives in Austin with her husband and two children. They love camping, outdoor sports and movie nights. 

Carol Weber, Business Office Manager

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Carol joined the Cedars family in 2015, and has a long history in the healthcare field. Her career includes working as a Certified Nursing Assistant for over 20 years!  She enjoys the healthcare industry, especially when she can work with seniors.  Her favorite thing about working with seniors is that she gets to learn about their rich life experiences.  Carol has a special connection to The Cedars – her grandparents were some of the original residents when The Cedars first opened its doors in 1986!  Carol and her husband live in Austin.  In their free time they enjoy spending time with their family, dirt track racing, baseball and hockey. 

 

Corienne Scott, Director of Housekeeping   

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Corienne worked in the senior housing and healthcare field for over 29 years in a variety of roles before bringing her many talents to the Cedars in 2015. She has always enjoyed working with the elderly and says that our residents always make her day shine a little brighter.  Corienne’s favorite thing about working in the senior housing and healthcare industry is all the wonderful and caring people she gets to meet and work with.  Corienne has a special connection to the Cedars – her grandparents were some of the very first residents when the Cedars opened its doors back in 1986!  Corienne lives in Austin with her husband.  They love spending time with their three children and seven grandchildren.  


 

Susan Hoehne, Onboarding Specialist

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Susan's background makes her a great fit for the position of Onboarding Specialist. She began her career in health care as a CNA and has over 20 years of experience in the health care industry before coming to the Cedars in 2017. Susan enjoys providing support to the staff that work hard to improve the quality of life for the residents at the Cedars. She is a Wisconsin native and currently lives in Austin with her husband. They have three sons together and in her free time she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren.


 

Candice Adams, RN

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When Candice joined the Cedars team in 2014 she already had 14 years experience caring for seniors. She has an associate’s degree in nursing and has been an RN since 2008. Candice has always enjoyed working with the senior community and is thrilled to be able to take the time to get to know each and every one of the residents at the Cedars.  Candice and her husband have two wonderful sons and they enjoy spending time with family and friends. 

 

Leesa Katiepolt, LPN


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Leesa joined the Cedars family in 2013. She attended Riverland Community College in Austin and began her career in health care in 1992.  Leesa enjoys making a difference in each resident’s life and providing the highest quality care to them. Leesa lives in Austin and enjoys spending as much time as she can outdoors.  

 

Leslie Kuiper, Marketing Assistant

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Leslie began her career at the Cedars in 2011. She started in the Healthcare Department before becoming the Marketing Assistant and it shows – Leslie is very caring and always has a smile on her face. Leslie has worked in the health care field for over 17 years. Leslie loves working with seniors and making a difference in their lives. Leslie lives in Austin with her family and they love to go camping together.

 

Sue Barns, Memory Care Activity & Recreation Assistant

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Sue joined the Cedars in 2105 bringing with her 27 years of experience working with seniors, with 18 of those specifically devoted to activities and recreation.  She truly has a passion for working with seniors and considers it a privilege to have her job because it allows her to work with living history. Sue lives in Albert Lea and enjoys spending time with her five children and sixteen grandchildren.


 

Jeff Funk, Director of Building Services 

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Jeff has been in the maintenance business for over 30 years and has been at the Cedars since 2016. He finds working with seniors to be very rewarding and says that seeing the smiles on their faces is "priceless." Jeff enjoys making life easier for our residents and doing whatever it takes to make their lives run as smoothly as possible.  He is always ready to lend a helping hand! Jeff lives in Dexter and enjoys fishing and spending time with his family. 

 

Testimonials

It only took two days of living at The Cedars to realize that my daughter was right when she encouraged me to move here!

-Resident

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