The CountryHouse memory care team
The heart of what we do really shines through in our people.
Each member of our team has been handpicked for their natural empathy and is expertly trained in best-practices dementia care. Then, our team learns each resident’s story—their likes, their dislikes, their values, and their past—so we can make meaningful connections. This allows us to provide the highest level of personalized care possible. To provide an even greater level of service, we offer a higher staff-to-resident ratio than most communities.
Beth Gonnerman joined the CountryHouse team in May 2020. A 25-year veteran of healthcare administration, she previously spent time as a long-term care, assisted living and memory care administrator and also held positions in acute care and outpatient services. Her first experience in senior living was as an activities director at a long-term care facility. It was here where she developed a passion for serving seniors.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Kearney, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Promotion. She later earned her Master’s in Management and Leadership from Doane University. She holds certifications as an Assisted Living Administrator, is a Certified Dementia Practitioner and is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.
A native of Lincoln, NE, Beth and her husband, Kevin, have been married for 34 years and have three grown children, Ellyn, Hannah and Sam. They are proud grandparents of two grandchildren, Finley and Daniel.
“I am so thrilled and honored to work for Agemark. I chose to join this company because of their vision to treat people like family! I have worked and partnered with several healthcare companies and industries and none compare to the culture and philosophy at Agemark.”
Senior Living Consultant
Natasha Kirk serves as CountryHouse in Elkhorn’s Senior Living Consultant. In her role, she works closely with families considering memory care for their loved ones. She loves getting to know residents and their families personally. She also enjoys building relationships with local professionals in the healthcare industry.
A 15-year veteran of sales of marketing, Natasha has spent the past 8 years working in healthcare. Her first experience in senior living came while she was in college, where she worked for a local community as a life-enrichment assistant.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a master’s degree in in Management with a specialization in Healthcare Marketing and Management from Kaplan University in Chicago, IL.
In her free time, Natasha enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She particularly enjoys being outdoors – camping, fishing, hiking, and kayaking with her husband and bulldog by her side.
“I was honored with I was extended the offer to work for CountryHouse. We take Memory Care to another level and truly embrace treating staff and residents like family. I have worked for other senior living organizations over the years and I really feel that this is a beautiful, compassionate environment for residents in our care.”
As CountryHouse’s Service Coordinator, Claire Palen plays an important role in helping residents get settled in their new home while maintaining good communication and relationships with their families. She enjoys providing support and a listening ear to those moving through this transition.
Prior to joining CountryHouse, she was a social worker with St. Croix Hospice for two years.
Claire attended Kansas State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She later attended graduate school at the University of Kansas, where she earned a master’s degree, also in Social Work. While in college, she volunteered and interned at a local senior living community. Here, she realized her love for serving seniors.
A native of Kansas, Claire moved to Nebraska in 2019. She and her husband, Austin, recently purchased their first home and stay busy with home renovations and DIY. They also enjoy spending time with their Pudelpointer puppy.
“Getting the chance to work for a company who values their employees has been a breath of fresh air. I enjoy working alongside a team who shares similar values and a heart for serving seniors with memory care needs.”
Director of Dining
Joseph Safford has been a chef in senior dining for more than five years. Prior to joining the CountryHouse team, he was a certified dietary manager for another local long-term-care community.
Joe holds an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts & Management from Metropolitan Community College’s Institution for the Culinary Arts. He’s a ServSafe Food Protection Manager and a Certified Dementia Practitioner. In addition to working in senior living, he also gained experience in restaurant dining while working at Farmer Browns, a popular steakhouse in Waterloo, NE.
Born and raised in the Waterloo, NE area, Joe loves working on home improvement projects in his spare time. An animal lover, he has two Huskies, Callie and Onyx, and thirteen chickens he affectionately refers to as “the girls”.
“I decided to pursue a career in senior living dining because I knew I could make the dining experience for seniors in our care exceptional. Food is a huge part of our lives – just because someone is in assisted living doesn’t mean their dining experiences shouldn’t be amazing!”