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Julie Kaminski receives 2022 ICAN Leadership Award

ICAN Press Release

Julie Kaminski, the 2022 recipient of the Institute for Career Advancement Needs (ICAN) Leadership Award, has been a part of the elder care industry since she was a teenager — literally. Kaminski, now chief operations officer at Immanuel, in Omaha, had her first job in senior living as a high school student. Through mentorship, leadership and experience, Kaminski built a career focused on one of our most vulnerable populations: the elderly. Kaminski is the seventh recipient of the ICAN Leadership Award, a prestigious honor presented annually in partnership with Kiewit at the ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference. The award recognizes people who live and lead authentically through the “4 C’s” of collaboration, compassion, confidence and creativity. Kaminski received her award at the 29th Annual ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference, on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 at the CHI Health Center. 

Aileen Warren, President and CEO of ICAN, said Kaminski’s work in the elder care field is a wonderful example of the 4 C’s, but most clearly demonstrates her compassion for those Immanuel cares for. In fact, compassion is one of Immanuel’s six promises outlined in its mission. “Julie’s advocacy for the elderly, her focus on innovative care for those with chronic health challenges and her leadership at Immanuel through the pandemic demonstrate both creativity and collaboration,” Warren said. “She builds personal connections with both staff and the elderly populations they serve, and we are thrilled to count her among our ICAN Leadership Award recipients.” 

Several of Kaminski’s colleagues at Immanuel submitted letters in support for her nomination, specifically mentioning her elder care advocacy work on both a local and national level, her vast experiences in senior living and her ability to provide “grace, support and honesty” to any situation she encounters. They also praised  her leadership during the pandemic, strategizing to keep COVID outbreaks at bay in Immanuel’s 20 service locations and testing new beta projects, including one called “Transforming Lives,” which increased the wages of front line staff by as much as 30 percent, in some cases.  

Kaminski’s career in senior living began in high school, when she worked as a dietary aide in a nursing home. She later transitioned into a kitchen position while working her way through college. As an undergraduate, she pursued a degree in international business and economics, but eventually took a second look at the field of gerontology thanks to a professor and mentor who told her that the elder care industry needed more compassionate individuals like Kaminski. Kaminski said that moment of clarity with her mentor led her down an unexpected path. “It made me realize that you never know who’s going to impact people or impact you,” she said.  Kaminski moved forward in the spirit of that mentor, not only taking on mentors of her own but staying open to mentorship herself, especially from residents of Immanuel’s communities.  After working with a previous employer to develop low-income affordable housing, Kaminski found her calling and a love for those who are on the margins, working to maintain a level of dignity for those who could not always afford to pay to live in a retirement community. Kaminski said she is proud that most of Immanuel’s communities serve those who are Medicare eligible, as well as more independent seniors through PACE® (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) enabling nursing home-qualified individuals to remain at home.  

“We serve low income elders who want to remain in their home, and we wrap all the services around them becoming their managed care organization,” Kaminski said. “The folks who come to us are chronically ill individuals with typically around 15 different severe medical conditions and typically little to no family support, so we’re able to step in and help stabilize their health care.” Immanuel also made it a point to invest funds back into the community after separating from Immanuel Hospital, creating the Immanuel Community Foundation that provides roughly $1 million to organizations around Omaha, with no stipulation that they provide services to any aging populations. Funded organizations include the Food Bank of the Heartland, literacy efforts for the blind and No More Empty Pots. “It’s another example of our mission not just being words on a wall. For us it truly is something that guides each of us as leaders and we try to catch those “mission moments” to make sure we’re living what we say we do,” Kaminski said.  

Jenn Bradtmueller, Vice President and Director of Environmental Programs at Kiewit, said Kaminski embodies that spirit.   “Julie embraces collaboration, provides leadership from her heart, and has a strong sense of integrity and moral grounding, in both business and the community,” Bradtmueller said. 


“I am incredibly honored to receive the 2022 ICAN Leadership Award and to be walking in the shoes of so many other incredible leaders in our community. I want to thank ICAN and Kiewit for this award. ICAN’s inspirational approach to leadership development motivates all of us to be thoughtful and strategic leaders.”’ 

Julie Kaminski

About the award: ICAN and Kiewit created the award in 2015 after careful research and tapping into ICAN’s nearly 40 years of history working with leaders from across the globe. ICAN believes that current leaders, and those of the future, need to possess the skills of the four Cs — collaboration, compassion, confidence and creativity — in order to successfully lead their organizations and communities in an ever-changing and complex global economy.

Kiewit Corporation, headquartered in Omaha and one of North America’s largest construction and engineering organizations, helped develop the criteria for the ICAN Leadership Award and sponsors the ICAN Leadership Award each year.

Past recipients of the ICAN Leadership Award:

2021: Carmen Tapio, North End Teleservices, LLC

2020: Josie Abboud, Methodist Hospital and Methodist Women’s Hospital

2019: Nancy Pridal, Lamp Rynearson

2018: Patricia Kearns, QLI

2017: Tim Burke, OPPD

2016: Gail DeBoer, SAC Federal Credit Union