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 to find that perfect place.  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. 

 

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're an active bunch and 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. 

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.  


 

Pat Michels, Director of Building Services 

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Pat had nearly six years of maintenance experience and over a decade of management experience when he joined the Cedars team in 2019.  He says that what brought him to the Cedars was a love of serving the elderly.  Pat has also been running his own corn and soybean farming operation for over 20 years.  He shares his farm with his family, as well as a few horses and cattle.  When he isn’t working or farming he rides horses and looks forward to his next winter get away. 

 

Brad Ellis, Culinary Director  

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Brad began working at the Cedars in 2022, bringing with him almost 20 years of restaurant/food service experience, with ten of those being in senior housing.  He holds an associate degree in Culinary Arts and has been a Certified Professional Chef since 2012. Brad's favorite thing about working at the Cedars is getting to know the residents and seeing the smiles on their faces after meals, knowing they really enjoyed the food. He lives in Blooming Prairie and in his spare time likes to grill, have bonfires, and participate in his dart and bowling leagues. 


 

Sue Barnes, Memory Care Activity & Recreation Assistant

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Sue joined the Cedars in 2015 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.


 

Testimonials

I knew The Cedars provided a lot of things I wanted and needed but I thought living at home was cheaper. After looking at the real costs I saw I could readily afford The Cedars.

-Resident

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