WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Sweetwood retirement community has a new leader at the helm.

Susan Chenail, a registered nurse, took over as executive director on Jan. 15. A Lanesborough native, Chenail said she brings a passion of caring for seniors to the position.

"I want residents to travel, and to be able to enjoy the culture that's in Williamstown and the Berkshires," she said in an interview.

Chenail also spoke about maintaining relationships with Sweetwood residents, some who have lived there for up to 15 years.

"The residents who currently live here are very strong in character," she said. "Many of them were very successful in their careers ... It's rewarding to be supported by the residents."

A graduate of Albany Medical Center School of Nursing, Chenail has been a nurse for nearly 30 years, she said. She most recently served as the director of health care services at the facility since August 2012. Prior to that, she held positions with the Visiting Nurse Association of Northern Berkshire and as a liaison for the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

She lives in North Adams with her husband and they have two adult children.

Chenail replaces former Executive Director Suzanne Anair, who left in December to pursue other interests.

The facility's parent organization, HealthBridge Management, has been supportive in maintaining Sweetwood's contemporary stylings, she said, and the 70-unit retirement community on Cold Spring Road saw a major renovation in 2012.

"All of the public areas have new carpeting, paint, and wallpaper, along with new furnishings and lighting," she said.

A new feature under Chenail's leadership is a "discovery room" for visitors on the first floor.

"We come in and sit down, in a den-like place where we can discover things about each other," she said. "Are they interested in learning about financial tools to assist them in buying in? Are they interested in certain things so I can invite them back and make relationships with them."

And a new model apartment, another of Chenail's initiatives, gives visitors the chance to imagine what it's like living at the facility, she said.

To reach Edward Damon:
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