Diakon Senior Living is comprised of a senior management team that constantly strives to exceed the expectations of all those we serve. Combined, these professionals possess more than a century of experience in the successful management of retirement, senior living and continuing care communities.
Mark T. Pile, MSHA, MSW, President/CEO
Mark T. Pile, MSHA, MSW, is President/CEO of Diakon, Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries, and Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries as well as several additional related organizations. As such, he is responsible for overall operations of nearly a dozen senior living and housing communities, a wide range of child, family and community-focused services, and support operations.
In his role, he has overseen growth in a number of areas including readiness for health-care reform, care for staff initiatives, an emphasis on long-term financial stability, and several successful reorganizations or service transitions.
President/CEO since Jan. 1, 2010, Mr. Pile was named Chief Operating Officer at Diakon’s creation in 2000, having held a similar role with Lutheran Services Northeast, one of the two organizations that created Diakon. He joined LSN as Senior Vice President in 1997, overseeing that organization's operations in 14 eastern Pennsylvania counties.
Before joining LSN, Mr. Pile served as Vice President of Somerset Hospital, a non-profit, 150-bed community hospital in western Pennsylvania. Prior to that, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Twin Lakes Center, a Somerset, Pennsylvania, non-profit drug and alcohol treatment service under Somerset Hospital's corporate umbrella.
Mr. Pile is a 1974 graduate of Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., from which he received a bachelor's degree in sociology, cum laude. He earned his Master of Science in Social Work degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Health Administration from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va.
In 2013, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Social Work Practice from the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. The award acknowledges and honors a social work alumnus or alumna who, throughout his or her career, has consistently demonstrated exceptional contributions to the profession and the community at large.
Mr. Pile has served on the board of directors of Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries, was chairman of the board and a founder of the Somerset Area Food Pantry, and has served as chairman of Eagle Scout Advancement for the Boy Scouts of America. He is a Fellow with the American College of Health Care Executives and a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers.
Scott Habecker, Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer
Scott D. Habecker, CPA, is Diakon's Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officer. Having joined Diakon in mid-2009 as Vice President of Planning and Business Development, he now oversees all organizational operations and financial services, with a focus on strategic initiatives to ensure Diakon’s long-term mission. In his previous role, he was responsible for evaluation of and planning for mergers and acquisitions, as well as internal expansion and repositioning opportunities. He has worked extensively to evaluate appropriate capital structures for Diakon and overseen bond issues and refinancings to achieve maximum results for Diakon.
Before joining Diakon, Mr. Habecker spent nine years as Chief Financial Officer for Continuing Care Rx, a multi-state, long-term care pharmacy business, where he assisted the organization complete five acquisitions and three de novo startup pharmacies in the eastern half of the United States. Mr. Habecker also served as Controller for Presbyterian Senior Living (formerly Presbyterian Homes & Services) and began his career in the Harrisburg office of Ernst & Young, an international accounting and auditing firm.
A graduate of Elizabethtown College with a bachelor's degree in accounting, Mr. Habecker received a 2006 Central Penn Business Journal Forty Under 40 award; the annual award recognizes 40 regional business leaders for their commitment to business growth, professional excellence, and their communities.
Shari VanderGast, Senior Vice President for Administration
Shari VanderGast, Esq., LCSW, FACHE, is Senior Vice President for Diakon Administration. As such, she oversees Human Resource Services as well as operations and growth within Diakon's wide range of senior living services and programming for children, youths, families and communities.
Before joining Diakon in 2015, Ms. VanderGast served as Chief Executive Officer of Central Mental Health, a community mental health center in the Philadelphia area. . Before joining that organization, she served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Access Services, a behavioral health-care organization that includes outdoor programming and adoption and foster care services, and was responsible for program and quality management, human resources, facility planning, financial operations and information technology. She also led a staff initiative that resulted in a "best-place-to-work" designation by the regional business journal.
Earlier in her career, she oversaw an employee assistance program, worked in home-based services for two organizations including the Philadelphia Geriatric Center, served as Administrative Director of Behavioral Health for a hospital and as Patient Safety Officer and Administrative Director for a health system.
Ms. VanderGast has a bachelor's degree in Human Resources from Cornell University and a Master's in Social Work degree from Columbia University, as well as a Juris Doctorate with concentration in health care law from Temple University. She is a licensed clinical social worker and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. She also is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management, a designation provided by the American Hospital Association. The author of several articles on behavioral health and a contributing author for a textbook, she is involved in a number of community organizations.
Ms. VanderGast works in Diakon's Ministry Support office in Topton and can be reached at (610) 682-1293.
Jenn Rautzhan, Vice President for Human Resources Services
Jennifer Rautzhan is Vice President for Human Resources Services with Diakon. As such, she oversees all strategic human resource planning including recruitment, retention, compensation, benefits, employee relations, employee development, safety, employee policy development and interpretation, and compliance with regulatory requirements.
Ms. Rautzhan began her career with the organization in 1993 with The Lutheran Home at Topton, now part of Diakon. She moved into Human Resource Services in 1996, holding several positions, most recently Executive Director of Employee Relations. She has a bachelor’s degree in Health Policy and Administration from Pennsylvania State University, with a minor in labor relations.
Mrs. Rautzhan is a member of the Society of Human Resource Professionals, as well as the Berks County chapter of the Society for Human Resource Professionals. She achieved the designation of Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) in 2006, as well as the Society for Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional status (SHRM-SCP) in 2015.
Ms. Rautzhan serves on the HR Advisory Committee of the Hillside School, a non-profit, private school in the Lehigh Valley dedicated to educating children who have been diagnosed with dyslexia or other language-based learning disabilities.
Ms. Rautzhan works in Diakon’s ministry support office located in Old Main on The Lutheran Home at Topton campus, Topton, Pennsylvania, and can be reached by telephone at (610) 682-1342.
William E. Swanger III, APR, Fellow PRSA, Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications and Public Relations
William Swanger is Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications and Public Relations with Diakon. He oversees all corporate communications including strategic communications planning and message development, crisis communication, and public relations, as well as publications and collateral materials, most advertising, media relations, website management, and video production.
Before being named to his current position, Mr. Swanger was executive for communications with Tressler Lutheran Services, one of the two organizations that created Diakon in 2000. He joined Tressler as public information specialist in 1978 and was soon promoted to director of public information and, later, to executive. He also is a former newspaper editor and reporter.
A member of the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society and past president of the Central Pennsylvania chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, Mr. Swanger is nationally accredited in public relations and was inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows in 2019, a small group of senior communicators who have demonstrated excellence in public relations as well as leadership and advancement of the profession. He has received national, regional, and local awards for public relations, publications, and writing, including multiple Keystone Awards, a dozen local and regional IABC awards (including “Best of Show”), more than a dozen national APEX awards including a Grand Award, a PANPHA public relations award, and several national Mature Media awards.
Mr. Swanger earned a bachelor’s degree from Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, from which he was graduated cum laude and received departmental honors in English literature. In late 2008, he received his master’s degree (focus in strategic communication) from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, where he was named to Kappa Tau Alpha, the national honor society in journalism and mass communications. A freelance writer, he has sold articles to national publications, newspapers, and business journals and provided public relations consultation to the former National Association of Lutheran Ministries for the Aging. Mr. Swanger currently also serves on the adjunct faculty of Susquehanna University, teaching classes in public relations, crisis communication, public speaking, and corporate communications writing.
Jarrod Leo, Senior Vice President for Financial Planning and Operations
Jarrod Leo, CPA, is Diakon's Senior Vice President for Financial Planning and Operations. Having joined the organization the fall of 2014, Mr. Leo was most recently Vice President of Consulting with Mennonite Health Services, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Also a former principal of the senior living consulting practice at ParenteBeard, Mr. Leo has more than 15 years' experience in the health-care and aging services fields with a focus on financial, strategic and operational functions. His experience includes work with both non-profit and for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Communities, health systems, home health and hospice care, assisted living/personal care communities, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers.
Having consulted with more than half of the country's top 20 non-profit aging services providers, Mr. Leo has overseen operational performance-improvement initiatives, the provision of financial intelligence to support expansion and repositioning efforts, facilitation of collaborative relationships between non-profit organizations, the design of market and consumer research to support long-range planning, and development of strategic initiatives to address the impact of health-care reform and changes in the care-delivery model.
Mr. Leo holds a bachelor's degree in finance and a Master of Business Administration degree from The Pennsylvania State University. He serves as vice chair of the board for Paxton Ministries, a faith-based, non-profit organization providing safe and affordable homes for adults who may be challenged with social, mental, or emotional needs, and has taken part in a mission trip to assist a Navajo congregation in New Mexico.
MaryEllen Dickey, Senior Vice President of Advancement for Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries
MaryEllen Dickey, CFRE, is Senior Vice President of Advancement for Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries. As such, she oversees a range of giving programs, including grants, major gifts, planned giving, corporate giving, endowments, and special capital projects, to support Diakon’s mission to serve those in need.
Before joining Diakon the beginning of 2007, Ms. Dickey was Vice President for Development at Good Shepherd Hospital and Rehabilitation Network, Allentown. In addition to completing a successful $40 million capital campaign that resulted in $52 million in giving, her department focused on creating its first chair, expanding numerous program endowments, and supporting the development of a health and technology center. She also has held planned giving and executive director positions with Lafayette College, Easton, and Lehigh University, Bethlehem.
A graduate of East Stroudsburg State College and the Canon Financial Institute, with specializations in charitable and estate planning and development of private foundations and endowments, Ms. Dickey began her career in the finance industry. She has held the positions of Vice President of wealth management and charitable services for Fulton Financial Advisors and Senior Trust and Charitable Specialist for First Union National Bank in the Lehigh Valley. While in banking, she provided support for non-profit organizations in endowment management and development, major gifts and planned giving development, and donor-solicitation support.
Certified as a fundraising professional, Ms. Dickey is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, National Committee of Planned Giving, and the Lehigh Valley Estate Planning Council. In the past, she has served as nomination committee co-chair for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, finance committee chair and trustee for First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, endowment trustee and development committee member for the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, and as a member of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the Council for Advancement & Support of Education, Girl Scouts’ Great Valley Council, the Planned Giving Group of Greater New York, the board of Family Counseling Services of Lehigh Valley Board, and the Pittsburgh Estate Planning Council.