With laser-sharp focus, an enthusiasm for life, and an unhinged sense of humor, Andrea “Andy” Leebron-Clay is the epitome of leadership and service to others. At 71, she is the matriarch and partner of Nightingale Healthcare, a family-run healthcare management company headquartered in Bellingham that owns and operates six skilled nursing and assisted living facilities throughout the state of Washington.
“So often, people think of nursing homes as a last stop in life,” Leebron-Clay says. “What I love about my work is that I can make it a worthwhile stop.”
A LIFE OF SERVICE
For Leebron-Clay, becoming a nurse and serving others was the only path she ever considered. Her father, a surgeon, taught her that education and service are keystones to a rich, fulfilling, and meaningful life.
“My goal each day is to elevate one life, whether it’s that of my adopted dogs, my family, or the residents of the buildings we operate,” she says. Over the years, Leebron-Clay has done just that. She has touched thousands of lives, healed many hearts, and provided opportunities to those in need.
Since her first job as a registered nurse in the late ‘80s, Leebron-Clay has set the standard for women leaders in healthcare, disrupting the gender barrier during a time when corporations were predominantly run by men. She became one of the first certified rehabilitation RNs in the country, and was the first female to sit on the executive team for the healthcare corporation where she worked.
Following an organic career path, Leebron-Clay has never shied away from opportunity or challenge, for better or worse. “If I were to pen an autobiography, it would most definitely be titled, ‘Uh Oh!’” she says. “Some of my greatest accomplishments in life were happenstance.”
Accidental or not, her accomplishments are inspiring. In 2005, Leebron-Clay co-founded the Clay International Secondary School, which provides cost-free education to hundreds of under-served children in a small African village. This venture opened another door, resulting in the creation of Days for Girls (DFG), a nonprofit that supplies feminine hygiene products to women around the world at no cost; Leebron-Clay was the first chairperson.
If this doesn’t sound like enough, Leebron-Clay also continues to serve her local neighbors. She is a licensed emergency medical technician, RN, nursing home administrator, volunteer firefighter (Station #5, Bow-Edison), and member of the Skagit Critical Incident Stress Management team.
Her hard work has not gone unnoticed. In May 2019, Leebron-Clay was an inaugural recipient of the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Hall of Honor award, a national award recognizing female healthcare leaders. She was the only recipient selected from Washington State.
“Living a quality life is simple,” Leebron-Clay says. “You need to show up, pay attention, and do the work. If you do those three things, you’ll be fine.”
For more content like this, check out our Lifestyle section.