Meet our leadership team
Ascension Living is non-profit and vision-driven to provide high-quality, compassionate, personalized care with dignity, especially to those in our community who are most in need. Get to know the people who serve as our leaders.
As President of Ascension Living, Danny’s forward-thinking leadership is helping Ascension to advance our ability to rapidly respond to evolving consumer demand and expectations for post-acute care. He leads one of the nation’s leading nonprofit and Catholic senior living organizations with a goal to connect senior living to the broader healthcare ecosystem, with a focus on personalized and quality care. In his current role, Danny has oversight of Ascension’s diversified post-acute services, including independent living, assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing, short-term rehabilitation and PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) within the Ascension Living portfolio. In addition, Danny has responsibility for integrating home health and hospice services throughout Ascension in efforts to advance bringing health and healing to the home.
Before assuming this role, Danny served as Chief Operating Officer of Ascension Living since July 2017. In this role he was responsible for directing operational and clinical integration of post-acute services to achieve exceptional outcomes and effectively position Ascension Living to be competitive in the value-based care marketplace.
His experience in the senior living industry provides our organization with a wide range of knowledge and expertise. Danny began his healthcare career in college as a caregiver in a residential behavioral health home. After college graduation, he entered the senior living industry with Cincinnati-based Communicare Health Services and eventually became a licensed nursing home administrator at their North St. Louis skilled nursing and assisted living facility. He then joined the Alexian Brothers Health System, based in Arlington Heights, Ill., currently known as AMITA Health, to reposition one of their skilled nursing facilities in St. Louis, MO. He was promoted to Regional Chief Executive Officer for Ascension Healthcare’s Carondelet Long-Term Care Facilities in Kansas City and upon the formation of Ascension Living in 2014, he served as the Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, where he led key, strategic initiatives for the organization.
He possesses in-depth knowledge of the strategic and operational aspects of the industry and has been recognized within the industry. In fact, Danny was recognized in 2016 as one of the Catholic Health Association’s “Tomorrow’s Leaders,” a prestigious recognition in Catholic healthcare.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in management from William Jewell College, and a master’s degree in health administration from Lindenwood University.
As Chief Operation Officer, Ryan is responsible for directing operational and clinical integration of post-acute services to achieve exceptional outcomes and effectively position Ascension Living to be competitive in the value-based care marketplace.
Before assuming this role, Ryan served as Ascension Living’s Market Vice President of Operations and supported the Kansas/Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Tennessee markets.
He has more than 20 years’ experience in not-for-profit and for-profit long-term care settings, including skilled nursing, assisted living, memory support, and independent living communities. He has a passion to care for frail and vulnerable populations and a proven track-record of achieving exceptional outcomes while leading strategic initiatives that positively impact the lives of residents, family members and associates.
Ryan received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Missouri State University, Springfield, and his Master of Human Resource Management degree from Webster University, before becoming a licensed nursing home administrator.
As Chief Medical Officer for Senior Care, including Ascension Living, Rafael Bloise MD, MA, MBA, is responsible for the clinical direction and strategy across Ascension Living and championing the implementation of a national palliative care strategy in partnership with each Ascension acute care market.
Working alongside the Ascension Living Chief Nursing Officer, Dr. Bloise co-leads continuous quality and safety improvements within Ascension Living's 40 senior care and living communities. He also leads efforts to incorporate clinical systems into daily work processes to support and advance, providing high-quality care throughout all communities, decreasing unnecessary hospital utilization, and enhancing partnerships with referral sources.
Before joining Ascension, Dr. Bloise served as the Regional Medical Director of the Palliative and Supportive Care Program for Mercy Health West Michigan. His extensive experience in creating and leading mission-centered and innovative palliative care programs for the most vulnerable populations across different regions and health systems has significantly improved what is most important to patients and families.
Dr. Bloise is board certified in internal medicine, hospice and palliative medicine, and healthcare ethics. He earned his medical degree from Universidad Iberoamericana in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He completed his internal medicine residency and internship at TriHealth Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and hospice and palliative medicine fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Cleveland, Ohio. In addition, he holds a master's degree in Bioethics and Health Policy from Loyola University in Chicago and a Master's in Business Administration from Northeastern University's D'Amore-McKim School of Business in Boston.
Mike leads all financial aspects of our financial activities, including financial strategy, planning, management and analysis; budgeting and forecasting; accounting; general ledger; cash management; financial relations; and policy development.
He began his career in the health care industry in 1999 as the Corporate Director of Finance for Provena Ventures. In 2001, he then went on to become the company’s Chief Financial Officer and eventually the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance, Housing and Pharmacy Operations when the company became Presence Life Connections, which is now part of Ascension Living. Prior to that, Mike worked in the banking industry.
Mike is a certified public accountant with thorough knowledge of the senior living industry and has substantial experience in operating multi-site senior living locations. He is a mission-driven leader with excellent analytical, strategic and management skills who thrives on supporting other leaders to ensure the continuation of our founders’ mission. In addition, Mike creates and maintains a partnership between associates, the community, and those we serve that fosters an environment honoring individual preferences, choices and traditions.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Governors State University, University Park, Illinois, and a Master of Business Administration from Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, Illinois. He has served on the Finance Committees for Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary, College Church of the Nazarene and on the Finance, Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living Cabinets of LeadingAge Illinois.
Debra Valkenberg RN, BC- RAC-CT, brings nearly 20 years of senior care nursing leadership experience to her role as Ascension Living’s Chief Nursing Officer. She provides strategic and operational leadership across all nursing services functions and care delivery models throughout Ascension Living while promoting alignment within Ascension’s national health system.
She is a visionary leader, driven by our mission to provide the highest level of care and compassion to residents, associates and the community. During her time with Ascension Living, Debra has ensured that our clinical team has remained focused, while supporting our communities with a high degree of service. She is honored lead a clinical team dedicated to serving seniors, so they can enjoy living healthier and happier, at every age and at every stage
Prior to joining Ascension Living, Debra served as the Senior Divisional Director of Clinical Services for Brookdale Senior Living. Over her career in nursing, she has served in a variety of areas, including divisional clinical operations; regional quality improvement; national and divisional Minimum Data Set (MDS) support; community nurse leadership; and direct care in pediatric and telemetry units. She earned her nursing degree from Excelsior College in New York and is a Certified Resident Assessment Coordinator, a nationally recognized gold standard in resident assessment in the long-term care nursing profession.
Bob Smoot began his service as Chief Mission Integration Officer for Ascension Living in December 2018, having previously served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Mission Officer for AMITA Health, the Chicago-based joint venture of Ascension’s Alexian Brothers Health System and Presence Health with Adventist Midwest Health.
In this pivotal role, Bob is responsible for establishing a collaborative framework for the growth of a common culture across Ascension Living, building upon the richness of the healing traditions of our legacy organizations and advancing our ministry integration grounded in our Mission and Values. His team works to deepen the awareness of and fully realize our identity as a healing ministry of the Catholic Church in all aspects of strategy, organizational culture, service and community collaboration and promote Ascension’s broad strategic and organizational commitment to our Mission. Bob assures the evolving initiatives, programs and resources that support the One Ascension journey, engaging the gifts of all for the sake of our Mission.
He brings a wealth of knowledge as a thought leader in the nuanced application of ethics, spirituality and community transformation with special attention to those who are poor and marginalized. Bob received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Saint Louis University, St. Louis, and his Master of Divinity and Master of Moral Theology degrees from Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis. In addition, soon Bob will complete the Master of Arts program in Bioethics and Health Policy at the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics & Healthcare Leadership at Loyola University, Chicago.
Tim brings a broad range of skills to his role supporting Ascension Living, such as advising and assisting clients on an array of transactional and operational business, regulatory and legal issues. He has been a partner at the Lowenbaum Law Firm, focusing his legal work in business, health care and corporate law. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Eastern Illinois University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Missouri.