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   


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


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 


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. 

Jason Hudock, Director of Culinary Services   

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Jason had an incredibly strong background and wide variety of culinary experience when he joined the Cedars team in 2018.  He studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.  During his career, Jason worked in Napa & Sonoma Valley and at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. He then moved to Minnesota and was the Executive Chef at the Gainey Conference Center and Beauterre Institute.  Jason’s approach to food is to keep it simple and use seasonal ingredients. His goal is to change what people think of when they think of dining programs in senior housing by serving meals made from scratch, featuring fresh, thoughtful ingredients that are - of course- delicious!   Jason lives in Owatonna and in his free time enjoys growing hops for his home brewing hobby. 


Carol Weber, Business Office Manager


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   


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. 


Candice Adams, RN


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



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.  


Mary Ingersoll, LPN 

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When Mary joined the Cedars team in 2018 she had been working as an LPN for over 30 years.  She has spent the majority of her career working with seniors.  She has worked in other areas of healthcare, but always found herself returning to caring for the elderly.  Mary enjoys working at the Cedars because she gets to provide care customized to meet the wide variety of care and service needs of our residents in our cozy home like setting. In her free time Mary enjoys crafts and sewing.  When weather allows, she can be found camping and biking with her family.  

Stephanie Aho, LPN

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Stephanie joined the Cedars team in 2019.  She has a nursing degree from Austin Community College and has spent her entire career working with seniors. Stephanie believes it was fate she worked with seniors in her first nursing job because she fell in love with it and has been loving it ever since.  She is grateful she gets to do what she loves and feels is her true calling as an LPN at the Cedars.  To Stephanie our residents represent “our past, our present, and a guide to our future.” Stephanie lives in Austin with her husband, sons and dog and loves spending as much time with them as she can. 


Sue Barnes, Memory Care Activity & Recreation Assistant


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.



I am moving back to the community I grew up in so that is comforting. The Cedars took the time to show me around, help me feel welcome and get to know me, laugh with me and understand that change is difficult when you are older. My neighbors are so friendly and make me feel like I belong! I am able to be as independent here as I can, yet I have staff there for the extra things I need help with. I also am able to “do my own schedule” in my apartment home. I feel safe and cared for by all the wonderful staff. There are lots of activities going on that I can choose to be involved in. Glad to be back in Austin and glad to be at The Cedars!


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