Cindy Leffell has been involved with The Towers for nearly three decades, as a board member, volunteer, and family member. With a background in hospital and long-term care administration, she first joined the board after completing the Young Leadership training program at The Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. She has also known The Towers as a family member when her mother-in-law was a resident. Cindy has a BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
The Towers at Tower Lane gives our deepest gratitude to Jackie Koral for her leadership and service as our Board Chair from 2017-2020. Her work over the years has helped shape The Towers Foundation fundraising efforts and forged many long lasting relationships for the organization. Jackie has impacted every part of The Towers in a positive and transformative way. Through Jackie’s leadership, The Towers conducted a search for a new President/CEO. As the new Board Chair, Jackie led the transition to new leadership while accomplishing much more. She ensured that our organization continued to go from strength to strength, that our organization will always go from strength to strength.
Under Jackie, our Governance Task Force updated our Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws for both The Towers and The Towers Foundation; no small task. Our organization has been expressed more clearly and beautifully across the community thanks to the re-branding of The Towers from Tower One/Tower East to the Towers at Tower Lane. During Jackie’s time as Board Chair, we have launched many evidence based programs to enhance the lives of our residents. The work that Jackie has done will shape The Towers for the next generation as well. Jackie successfully oversaw the Strategic Planning process and the publication of our new strategic plan. This will help shape and guide our success for the next 10 years.
In her life outside of the Towers, Jackie celebrated her 24th year at University of New Haven, serving first as Director of Development and finally as Associate Vice President of Philanthropy. Prior to her positions at UNH, she was the Vice President of Development, Public Affairs and Marketing at the former Park City Hospital in Bridgeport; and as an Associate in Research in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. Her first job was teaching psychology at Sacred Heart University.
Jackie serves on several boards. Among them are the Long Wharf Theatre’s Board, Board Member of the Orange Scholarship Foundation; LEAP Fundraising Committee Member, Past President and current Board Member of the Orange Players Community Theater; and Board Member of the Orange Arts Council. She also performs in community theatre and in cabarets in the Greater New Haven area.
Past philanthropic affiliations include two-time Co-Chair of the UNH United Way Campaign, Volunteer Chair of Public Relations for the Connecticut Cancer Society, Chair and Editor of the New Haven Symphony Supplement, editor of the Volunteer Handbook for the first International Festival of Arts and Ideas, and trustee of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
We are proud of the expertise that our team brings to the table. We have spent years advancing the field of aging services.
At The Towers priorities matter. Our staff lives by the principle, the person comes before the task. You will always come before all other daily obligations and you will always be what matters most. You will come first.
Listening to one another with compassion defines us. Leading with quiet and understated competence is what we do.
Gustave (Gus) Keach-Longo assumed the role of President/CEO in January 2018. Having heard of Tower One/Tower East’s reputation throughout his career, he continues to feel honored and humbled by the opportunity to support such an outstanding and innovated organization. Since the age of 16, Gus has felt called to work with seniors. It is a natural fit having grown up with a great-grandmother who lived to age 108. His professional purpose evolved throughout his career toward finding ways that help seniors live their best lives. He strongly believes that there are key practices to setting the right tone for a team and to finding ways to lift seniors up in everything we do at The Towers. Our Guiding Principles are the hallmark of Gus’ approach to senior care. Through fostering respect for all, compassionately putting the person before the task, exploring innovated ways to help people grow, and serving one another with care, strength and humility, together we create the community where we all want to live. This is a culmination of decades of listening to our elders and learning their life-lessons early.
Through his training as a Masters-prepared Connecticut Nursing Home Administrator and his post-graduate work with UCONN’s Human Development and Family Studies Ph.D. program, Gus’ focus remained on what propelled him forward—seniors’ experiences as they age and the effects of their interactions with our support services systems. Through his time working in a good, yet institutional, nursing home setting, Gus knew that our profession can and should always do better. Studying the evolving models of Plane Tree, Elden Alternative and following the Pioneer Network, Gus started to influence the environments and approaches through his own work. Responsible for the startup of one of the CT Assisted Living Demonstration Pilots, The Retreat in Hartford, Gus was able to fully embrace and implement the principles of these national efforts and assist the evolution of senior care models.
Gus is proud to be a life-long Connecticut resident and is grateful for the progress our state has made towards becoming inclusive and affirming for all its residents. He has been married to his husband, Joe, for more years than it has been technically legal. They share their lives with their adult son, Jonathan, who they were able to adopt because our state was one of the only states allowing LGBTQ co-parent adoptions. Gus often hikes with mixed beagles “Cooper” and “Molly” in the Metropolitan District Reservoir behind their house in Bloomfield.
As Associate Vice President, Jesse Wescott is responsible for overseeing all the day to day operations at The Towers. This includes our front desk operations, housekeeping, dining services, maintenance, grounds, physical plant mechanics as well as special projects. “Since joining the team in 2018 it has been wonderful getting to know this community and its rich history of serving our seniors. Being able to be at the forefront of so many positive enhancements has truly been a gift at this stage of my career,” Jesse says. Holding dual degrees in Management and Finance, as well as almost a decade’s worth of experience in caring for seniors of diverse backgrounds has engrained in Jesse an eye for detail and a zest for continuous improvement that helps bring his leadership forward every day. After being awarded with the CALA Young Leader of the Year Award in 2016, Jesse’s passion for creating the best living environment for seniors was further ignited and he is looking forward to many fruitful years of success here at The Towers. Being a leader in this field often means being on call 24 hours a day, but when Jesse is not physically in the building he loves spending time with his beautiful wife and daughter at home, with their dog, Napa. When they aren’t looking he does his best to sneak away to drive his Mustang or spend time in his wood workshop!
John Heyder is the Chief Financial Officer at The Towers. He has responsibility for all financial and leasing activities at The Towers; including lease signing, HUD certifications and re-certifications, resident billing and collections, banking activity as well as all business insurance and audit oversight. John is a Certified Public Accountant as well as a HUD Certified Occupancy Specialist and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting from Pace University as well as a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing from Sacred Heart University. John spent more than ten years as a volunteer coach and treasurer for softball, basketball and volleyball sports programs at Trumbull High School. Today, John spends his leisure time with his wife, four daughters, two son-in-laws and their adorable dog, Riley.
Jennifer Bayer runs The Towers Foundation, the supporting organization of The Towers. While just at The Towers for three years, Jennifer has been a Jewish Communal Professional for nearly ten. “We have a remarkable community. I love helping donors realize the impact they want to make through our multitude of meaningful and innovative initiatives. Our donors not only make people’s lives better, but actually extend happy and healthy years lived. This is so rewarding and fulfilling.” Jennifer holds a BA from Oberlin College and MA and Ed.M. degrees from Columbia University. Jennifer is an active member of New Haven’s Jewish Federation and a member of the Jewish Foundation’s Women of Vision Society. She loves spending time with her husband Rob and sons, Noah and Sammy.
Glenn Gordon is the Director of Human Resources and Information Technology. Glenn would say that his role at The Towers is “taking care of people who take care of people.” For the past two years, he has been focused on finding individuals who are excellent at their roles, but make up a team who is accomplishing one goal—helping people to live their best lives. Glenn is a Senior Certified Professional with the Society For Human Resource Management, and he has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Connecticut. While he is constantly behind the scenes, working on technology connections for The Towers team, his best time is spent making personal connections with Towers residents, and when he needs a break, you will find him sitting at a piano.
Nicole Merritt is the Executive Coordinator to the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Development and Community Relations. She has been working at The Towers for thirteen years starting out in the Resident Services Department. Nicole earned her Bachelor and Master degrees in the area of Social Work from Southern CT State University. “Our seniors have done so much for us in their lifetime, it is my honor to now provide care and encouragement to them at The Towers.” Nicole lives in East Haven with her husband of twenty-four years and their two sons. She sits on the Board of Commissioners for East Haven’s Counseling and Community Services Department. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with family, exercise and work on sewing and craft projects.
As the Front Desk Supervisor, Stacey Lea DeLeonardo is responsible for overseeing the day to day operations at our front desk and works with our team of Front Desk Officers to help secure our community and also make our desk the hub of information for residents and families of our community. Stacey is a native Texan who made her way to Connecticut over 20 years ago, bringing with her a natural Southern charm and sensibility. Her professional background includes extensive experience with property management and direct customer service; these skill sets are put to great use in the daily conversations she has with our residents and families. “Whether it be residents, family, friends or vendors, our front desk is the first point of interaction and it is important to me that it be a warm and inviting experience” Stacey says. In her spare time, Stacey enjoys spending time with her two sons, doing fun things like watching The Mandalorian or anything Marvel and enjoying the culinary creations that Joe, Stacey’s fiancé, creates in their kitchen.