After starting her career as an auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Michelle Gramoglia joined Woodland Pond at New Paltz in 2007 to help guide its expansion. She rose to executive director in 2013 and president/CEO in 2016, leading the not-for-profit, upscale continuing-care retirement community to become a noted center of culture, wellness, and services for those aged 62 and older.
In 2019, she was elected president of the LeadingAge CCRC Cabinet, giving her voting rights within LeadingAgeNY, the state’s association of advocacy for continuing-care providers. Born in Kingston and now living in Saugerties, Gramoglia embraces the Woodland Pond mission of “Opportunity. Care. Connections.” She makes a point of walking through campus, maintaining an open-door policy, and bringing her own family for visits.
She also builds strong community partnerships by hiring students from New Paltz High School and SUNY New Paltz, hosting local performance groups on campus and sending staff to assist in town projects. “While I certainly never expected that my accounting degree would bring me to the world of senior living,” she says, “I cannot imagine myself being anywhere else.”
How do you balance compassion and care with practical business decisions in your role?
It’s a challenge! But the foundation of Woodland Pond, in every aspect, is our people: our residents, their families, our staff, our board members. I try to live and lead with empathy, and that has been an adjustment over the last 10 years. Having a background in corporate finance, I have had to learn to tone down the black and white, and let every other color shine through.
Do you have a mentor?
I grew up in a household where having a strong work ethic wasn’t optional. I had my first job at Deising’s Bakery [in Kingston] when I was 14, and by the time I was a senior in high school had three jobs. I had seen my parents work hard my whole life. So yes, my mom and dad were mentors from the start. But I must also give so much credit to the residents for my transformation here over the last 10 years. When you spend your days with people that have lived a lifetime, you cannot help but be inspired, impacted, driven to be better.