The genesis of Southminster is a rather incredible story. Two long-standing churches in Charlotte, Christ Episcopal and Myers Park Baptist joined together to successfully launch a premier ecumenical, non-profit, retirement community. After years of research, planning, and the generous contributions of many, in 1987, the “impossible dream” became a reality with the ribbon cutting of what was considered at the time one of the most upscale retirement communities in the nation. The community was an immediate success meeting pent-up demand. Now as an independent 501c(3) organization governed by a board of directors comprised of community and civic leaders, Southminster has been a stable example for over 35 years of responsible stewardship and ministry. Books could be written full of wonderful stories of multiple generations of residents creating memories, forging lifelong friendships, and living full and productive lives.
With Southminster’s recent expansion and renovations, Southminster continues to meet the needs of its residents and those yet to come. With high-demand, larger, more spacious homes, a modern fitness center (with indoor pool), and unparalleled amenities, Southminster continues to set the bar for what retirement living should be. Offering a full continuum of care and a commitment to the highest level of service, Southminster continues the tradition of defining the exceptional retirement experience.
Southminster is a member in good standing with Leading Age, formerly known as the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) and its state chapter, www.leadingagenc.org. Southminster is fully licensed by the North Carolina Department of Insurance and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
If you are interested in learning more, call to schedule your visit to Southminster and learn how you can enjoy a retirement lifestyle full of choices and possibilities.
At Southminster, our mission is to embrace community, caring and collaboration to enrich the lives of those we serve. We are Southminster.
We are committed to being a thriving, inclusive culture celebrating innovative living and person-centered care.
Meeting the region’s emerging needs through thoughtful growth and collaboration, we will be the premier choice to live and work.
- We create welcoming and resilient communities where we live and work.
Teamwork and discipline guide us in our pursuit of excellence.
We respond with support when challenged and faced with struggles.
We holistically care for one another.
- Do the Right Thing
We believe trust and integrity are paramount to doing what’s right even when no one is watching.
Board of Directors
Rev. Joseph Aldrich
Richard “Dick” Brigden
Rev. Robin Coira
Larry J. Dagenhart
R. Stuart Dickson
Edward T. Hinson Jr.
Frank L. Horne, Jr.
Rev. Lisa Saunders
Roy L. Smart “Skip”
Richard “Dick” Welch
President & CEO
Mr. Gilchrist has extensive experience working with non-profit retirement communities, as well as for-profit skilled nursing providers. Prior to being appointed as CEO at Southminster, Mr. Gilchrist served for seven years as Vice President of Operations at Friendship Senior Options, a non-profit provider of senior services and housing in Illinois. Prior to that Mr. Gilchrist served as President of Springfield Masonic Home, a non-profit CCRC in Springfield, OH and Vice President of Operations for Vrable Health Care Company in Columbus, OH, a for-profit provider of skilled nursing. Prior to that position he served as Vice President of Health Care and Community Based Services at Maple Knoll Communities in Springdale, OH, a non-profit provider of senior services and housing. Mr. Gilchrist is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator in Ohio and served on the board of LeadingAge Illinois. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration in Applied Management from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Kenda Laughey, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
Kenda is a Certified Public Accountant having joined Southminster after a successful 10-year career with Deloitte & Touche. With Deloitte & Touche, she was an Audit Senior Manager focused on health care providers. Kenda graduated from the University of South Carolina where she earned a Bachelor of Science & Business Administration degree and a Master of Accountancy degree.
Mary Cooper, R.N.
Chief Operating Officer
Mary is a seasoned professional in the field of aging services for over 30 years with more than 20 of those years at Southminster. Mary began her career at Southminster as the Director of Nursing with certifications in geriatric nursing and culture change. Prior to being promoted to the COO position, Mary held the title of Director of Health and Wellness and Administrator of Record for Southminster’s Embrace Health. Her responsibilities included all areas of Health and Wellness operations including Nursing, Resident and Family Life, Embrace Care, Life Enrichment, the Wellness Clinic and Wellness/Fitness. As COO Mary now oversees all areas of operations including Embrace Health, Embrace Care, Environmental Services and Culinary Services as well as the development of all policies and programs related to service delivery.
Ben Bumgardner, CDM, CFPP
Administrator of Embrace Health
Ben began his work at Southminster as the Assistant Manager of Culinary Services while earning his Certificate of Dietary Management in 2013. His love of service to others drove him to continue seeking purpose in the community. Invited to participate by Leading Age of North Carolina in its 2017 Leadership Academy, Ben was inspired to pursue the Administrator-In-Training program. Completed in the summer of 2020, Ben is now a licensed healthcare administrator serving Southminster’s residents of Embrace Health. Ben holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Industry Studies at Appalachian State University.
Director of Embrace Care Services
Tess was recently chosen as Southminster’s next Fellow in the LeadingAge NC Leadership Academy, a year-long program designed to develop statewide aging services. The program provides a challenging and engaging learning environment that enhances the leadership capacity of aging services professionals so they are better equipped to serve in the aging field.
Director of Resident Life Enrichment
Christina moved to Charlotte in 2009 to attend Johnson & Wales University. She came to Southminster in 2011 as an Assistant Dining Room Manager while completing her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. A transition to the Life Enrichment team in 2013 led to a promotion to Director of Life Enrichment Programs in 2015, and Director of Resident Life Enrichment in 2020. She is honored to have spent 2021 as a fellow in the Leading Age North Carolina’s Leadership Academy.
Vice President of Human Resources
Lisa enjoys over 20 years’ experience in associate relations, training/development, recruiting, benefits and compensation management. Prior to joining Southminster, Lisa was in human resource management with Arbor Acres, a continuing care retirement community located in Winston Salem. Earlier experience includes human resource positions with Honda of America, Visa USA, and Sunrise Medical. A graduate of Longwood College, with a BS in Sociology and Business, Lisa has earned additional certifications in Human Resources Management and Career Architect Training and Development and is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). She is also successfully graduated from the Disney school’s course on leadership and management.
Vice President of Philanthropy & Strategic Services
Tracy has held this newly created role since February, 2014. Prior to joining the senior leadership team at Southminster, Tracy led business development efforts in North and South Carolina in independent living, assisted living, and specialized memory care. Tracy earned a BA in Communications/Journalism and is a published writer with both local and national publications on a variety of topics. She completed her graduate work in the field of Gerontology and was inducted into the Sigma Phi Omega Honor Society with the Gerontological Society of America. Tracy currently serves on the board of directors for the Shepherd’s Center, Council on Aging, Volunteer Transportation Services and is a certified Dementia specialist through the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Tracy’s current efforts include expanding Southminster’s philanthropic mission by building community partnerships that focus on education, cultural arts and healthy community initiatives.
Director of Campus Facilities
Donna joined the Southminster team in 2001. She works with residents, family members, Board members, senior managers, and employees to provide assistance to the Executive Director in areas related to community management. Donna has worked in the field of senior healthcare and senior living since 1990. She has an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Chatham College in Pittsburgh.
Communications & Public Relations Manager
Outside of work Susanne and her husband Doug enjoy visiting their children and grandchildren, live music, biking, and hiking with their dog.
Director of Culinary Services
Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Stewart joined Southminster in February 2012, first as a marketing consultant and, today, as its Director of Sales and Marketing. Stewart enjoys over 30 years experience in both the corporate and non-profit sectors that includes directing the sales and marketing efforts of a multi-site developer of continuing care retirement communities; directing the advancement efforts of two prestigious K-12 independent private schools; serving as a national sales executive for a developer of medical information software; and consulting with hospitals on the successful integration of management and physician practices. Stewart is experienced at leading the marketing efforts and advancing the sales initiatives of expanding companies on the threshold of leading their industries. Stewart is a graduate of the The Terry Business College of the University of Georgia.