Reutlinger director search ends close to home

For almost a full year, the search committee of the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living considered candidates from around the country to be the next executive director for the assisted living facility in Danville.

And in the end, they went with someone they knew quite well.

Janice Corran, the new executive director of Reutlinger, has served on the board of the center for the past three years.

Calling the national search a “highly methodical process,” Syd Saperstein, Reutlinger’s board president, said, “It was a surprise that in a search that took 11 months to complete, with 12 highly qualified candidates, we found that our own board member Jan stood out among them all as being the premier candidate. This was clearly a case of the cream rising to the top.”

Corran is originally from Des Moines, Iowa. Her father was an attorney and businessman — he also owned a peanut products corporation — and her mother served as president of the synagogue sisterhood and Hadassah and other volunteer roles.

Perhaps not coincidentally, both her parents were instrumental in a major capital campaign in building the Iowa Jewish Home for the Aged (it’s now called the Iowa Life Center).

After Corran married, she moved to Sioux City, Iowa, and had children. On the day that she drove to Des Moines to help move her grandmother into the Iowa Jewish Home for the Aged, she had an epiphany that she would dedicate herself to working with the elderly.

When her grandmother had money stolen from her while living at the Jewish Home, her commitment was confirmed even further.

Corran has two Ph.D.s — one in psychology and one in geriatrics — as well as a master’s degree in health care administration.

She moved to the Bay Area in 1988 with her then-husband and currently lives in Oakland. She does not belong to a synagogue, but sometimes attends Congregation Beth Abraham.

Corran first found herself on Reutlinger’s board because of her experience and through people she knew.

Her last job was at Crestwood Manor, a nursing facility in Vallejo.

And while she wasn’t looking to leave, since she “adored working there,” something about the timing of the Reutlinger position seemed to be right.

Her mother fell ill, and Corran took care of her. When she died in April of 2004, the Reutlinger job came open a few months later. Corran “felt this was where my career should lead me” and applied for the job.

Since she started only a month ago, she is still looking into what could be improved and what her priorities will be.

Right now, she said, she’d love to see Reutlinger have a higher profile than it does now.

“I really want people to realize that Danville isn’t that far,” she said. “And I would love it if when people thought of the finest care they can get for their parents or older loved ones, that the letters RCJL come tripping out. I want the community to realize who we are and what we do.”

She added, “It’s an honor that the residents have welcomed me into their home and given me the opportunity to help lead their home in the best way possible.”

Saperstein, Reutlinger’s board president, further said that while Corran’s experience with both Jewish and non-Jewish institutions made her an ideal candidate, her passion is her greatest asset.

“We’re already beginning to see a lot of the results of her creativity and enthusiasm for the community,” he said, “and for the work she has already begun.”

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."