Executive Director of Sterling Glen
BY SUDIP P. MUKHERJEE
An administrator with experience in assisted care facilities and the food and beverage industry, Stephen Nichols has been named the executive director of Sterling Glen of Forest Hills, a luxurious assisted senior living residence.
Though Nichols, 33, previously served as executive director of Sterling Glen of Great Neck, he had always hoped to one day manage the Forest Hills facility.
He first toured the area when he collaborated on the opening of a T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant on Austin Street in 1998, which was “far and away the best experience in the food industry” he ever had.
“So since then, I knew full well [Sterling Glen] had a Forest Hills location, and really wished I could manage that residence,” he said.
Sterling Glen Senior Living is a network of 11 luxury senior residences located in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. In addition to offering individual care, exercise facilities, assistance programs and private transportation to each of its residents, Sterling Glen also provides apartments with kitchenettes, wall-to-wall carpeting and full laundry service.
“When I joined Sterling Glen, I knew it was known for excellence in the senior living brand,” Nichols said. “It’s the Cadillac of assisted care facilities.”
The Forest Hills residence in particular is known to have some of the finest dining and living features of any assisted care facility in New York. Featuring 84 studio and one-bedroom apartments, each living unit has personal climate controls, private safety-equipped bathrooms and large closet spaces.
His attention to detail and listening skills landed Nichols his position, according to Sterling Glen Chief Operating Officer Kevin Hunter.
“He has the ability to listen to residents and resolve issues quickly to everyone’s satisfaction,” Hunter said. “He has already made changes and improvements throughout the [Forest Hills] residence and residents are very pleased with his initiatives.”
“He is the perfect choice to head our Forest Hills residence,” he said.
Nichols has climbed a long, varied ladder to become executive director of Sterling Glen of Forest Hills. A graduate of Brooklyn College, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Now living in Staten Island with his wife Victoria, Nichols said all his previous jobs, including working as the regional manager of a Boston Market restaurant has helped him understand the link between all businesses.
“There’s a link between the two,” said Nichols of the food and assisted-care industries. “I learned that assisted living is service oriented as well, so once I learned the regulations and medical terminology, I found both were similar in that we still have to push our product and please our customers.”
To please his residents, Nichols is constantly looking for ways to improve upon his Forest Hills facility’s sterling reputation. From building maintenance, to food service, to activity supervision and organizing community involvement, his responsibilities always begin and end with his residents’ satisfaction.
Whereas he did draw a large amount of positive experiences from his days in the food and beverage industry, Nichols says the most rewarding aspect of his current job is interaction with his “extended, extended family,” residents he considers his own kin.
“To have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life on a day-to-day basis is so fulfilling,” he said. “Thus, I’m able to get a real paycheck and an emotional paycheck.”
Initially, Nichols thought his Sterling Glen facility’s only drawback was a lack of a director. After evaluating the residents, the staff, the facility and its services offered Nichols is in the process of fortifying the residence’s community appeal.
“I want Sterling Glen of Forest Hills to become the predominant senior care facility in Queens,” he said. His plans already include spreading awareness of the facility to the greater Queens community, as well as inviting non-residents to take part in some of its support and wellness programs.
“I see our location becoming a social hub for all seniors in the community, not just our own in-house residents,” he said. “Like them, I hope to be staying indefinitely.”
Executive Director of Sterling Glen