Mark Trnka remembers when Monarch Landing was first being built 12 years ago. “I’ve always been aware of the community, and people said that I should throw my resume into the ring but I wasn’t quite ready,” he said. Throughout the years, he would think about it in passing, as he continued to build his resume. Earlier this year, Trnka saw that the executive director position at Monarch Landing was open, and he knew it was time. “I remember thinking, ‘I need to apply for this.’ The timing was right,” he said. In September, Trnka took over the reins of the community he has long admired, and he couldn’t be happier.
Trnka’s career, starting at the age of 13, was in food services. “I had my first job as a busboy and dishwasher at the Tollgate Inn. It was a lot of fun and I stayed with it through high school,” he said. Eventually, he decided to major in food and nutrition with a concentration in hotel, restaurant, and travel administration. “While I was attending Southern Illinois University, at first I thought I’d want to continue on in the restaurant world, but then during my senior year I met my wife, and realized that working in restaurants wasn’t really conducive to family life. I discovered other possibilities.”
Those other opportunities included working for Aramark where he worked in dining services, Hinsdale Hospital where he was first exposed to health care services, and DuPage Convalescent Center where he was introduced to senior living.
When Trnka was hired by Providence Life Services in 2008, he first restructured their dining services program, and then was asked to oversee support services. “My experience really broadened. I got exposed to more of the operations side of senior living, “he said. Trnka became vice president of assisted and independent living with oversight of the company’s many properties as well as their home and community-based services. When Providence reorganized, he moved on to work at Trinity Health in regional management.
With extensive experience in senior living, health care, and management, Trnka was well-positioned to apply for the executive director role at Monarch Landing.
While proceeding through the interview process, Trnka was gratified to see that “everyone is of the same mindset or mission or value. Everyone is in this for the resident,” he said “This is important to me. My values must be aligned with the organization in which I’m working or it won’t be a successful long-term relationship. I felt aligned at every meeting, with every person I talked with…the owners, management, colleagues, peers at other locations, and the team.”
Trnka is also favorably impressed with the residents. “There’s a high level of engagement that’s very nice to see. They demonstrate their level of ownership by how involved they are. It’s their community. Their home,” he said.
Working in senior living, Trnka especially treasures “the connections and the relationships that you develop over time with the residents,” he said. Furthermore, Trnka said that he likes “being a leader. I get a lot of satisfaction helping people achieve to what they aspire.”