Meet The Team

Meet the Team

Michelle Houriet, Executive Director – employee since 2001
With over 22 years of property management experience in San Antonio and Houston, Michelle oversees the management and operations of Independence Hill, Independence Hill Assisted Living and Independence Village. She is very dedicated to creating an upbeat, respectful and exciting lifestyle in our communities, as well as having a great sense of compassion. Her ability to always find the enjoyment in an ordinary day, sets the cheerful stage for our communities’ employees, residents and members, with laughter and fun around every corner. This native San Antonian is also a true expert in retirement living and thrives on ensuring happiness in her residents. She will ensure our residents decision to move in to any one of our communities will be a decision they will wish they had made sooner! Michelle enjoys time with her daughter and their two dogs, traveling nationally and internationally, and her volunteer work throughout San Antonio.

Elizabeth Bedford, RN, Community Director – Employee since 2017
Elizabeth worked at the Independence Hill Assisted Living Front Desk while studying to become a nurse for several years. Upon graduating as an LVN, Elizabeth continued with senior care and became the charge nurse in a long term care and skilled nursing facility. She chose to continue nursing school, and ultimately graduated as a Registered Nurse, at which time she decided to specialize in Emergency Medicine. She worked as a RN in an Emergency Room, and while learning a lot there, Elizabeth realized how much she adored and missed senior living. She quickly realized that this is where she was meant to be. She is thrilled for the opportunity to return to Independence Hill Assisted Living as the Community Director. Elizabeth has two daughters, Samantha and Emily, and a loving husband, Billy. She enjoys spending her free time with her family cheering on the Chicago Bears, her favorite football team, as well as our beloved San Antonio Spurs.

Ardie Lehman, Assistant Community Director – employee since 2000
Ardie first came to Independence Hill in 1997 as a contract employee and when she first started here, “she felt she was finally “at home” with one big, wild, wonderful family of residents and co-workers. Ardie worked the previous 25 years in management and staffing industries. Her staffing background gave her insight and the belief that Independence Hill’s management ranks at the top of the list. In her spare time, Ardie enjoys spending time with her family, especially her grandson Jackson. She is also passionate about crafting, with her specialties being an ancient art of paper crafting called “Quilling” and making jewelry.

Martha Anderson, Internal & Public Communications Director – employee since 2007
Martha brings many years of experience in communication, marketing and project management. At Independence Hill she works closely with the Executive Director, managing a variety of projects to include marketing campaigns/events, social media, community websites, employee programs, as well as facility upgrades. No matter what the job, her passion is to provide outstanding customer service. Martha enjoys being outdoors and loves to spend time at the lake boating with family and friends, traveling, and dancing. Her 3 children are her favorite accomplishment and have brought much joy to her life.

Sherrill Perez, Lifestyle Consultant – employee since 1999
For 2 decades, Sherrill has been helping retirees find just the right home and community to fit their needs. She is a specialist in senior living, always taking in what people truly want and finding the best match for them. Sherrill remembers residents’ individual needs and personal interests, which she uses to bring people together creating strong friendships and bonds. She enjoys raising her 2 boys and spending family time with them and her husband, a Gymnastics coach and Gym owner. Sherrill also likes playing racquetball, going to the movies and being involved in church activities.

Laura Terranova, Lifestyle Consultant — employee since 2013
Laura knows “home is where the heart is and there is no place like home”! She has a great passion for finding people the perfect place to call home and has been helping families do this for over 20 years. Living by the Golden Rule she knows the importance of treating people with integrity and compassion. Her compassion for seniors came from her parents as they were in their late forties when she was born. Laura grew up on the east coast and made San Antonio her home at 24 years old. She has a love for life and is thankful for all the wonderful blessings in her life. Laura spends her off time with her teenage son, Jake, who keeps her on the go! Laura loves her job at Independence Hill and is happy to call it her home away from home.

Chickie Backhaus, Outreach Coordinator – employee since 2003
Otherwise known as our “Walking and Talking Billboard,” Chickie is always about the town representing all of our communities. Whether she is speaking at large events, assisting with Wounded Warrior fundraisers, visiting our neighborhood fire stations or mingling at Chamber of Commerce mixers, this native San Antonian has that unforgettably sincere and upbeat personality that is prevalent in all our communities. When she is having her own relaxing time at home, she and her husband enjoy traveling in their travel trailer with their cat and 2 dogs.

Evonn Short, Director of Activities and Transportation – employee since 2018
Evonn is a Texas native and brings over 20 years of event planning and team building to Independence Hill. She has a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio.  Evonn strongly believes in treating everyone with respect and kindness.  Each event should bring joy and leave people feeling glad they came.  In her spare time, she enjoys fishing, biking, camping, or just watching reality TV with her husband, children, and miniature long haired Doxie.  Joining the Independence Hill team is one of the highlights of Evonn’s life.  She fell in love with the residents’ faces and looks forward to serving them each and every day with either a simple smile or an amazing event that will leave them talking about it for quite some time.

Tonya Ledford, Director of Housekeeping – employee since 2014
Tonya and her team are responsible for the cleaning of apartments and homes at all 3 of our communities as well as all common areas. Tonya’s team is made up of very long tenured housekeepers who have continually provided quality service to our residents by knowing what’s important to each and everyone of them. Tonya is passionate about cleaning, the people she takes care of and her staff. Joining our Independence Hill family, Tonya brings over 15 years Environmental Services experience in both the automotive and healthcare industries. In 2013 Tonya moved to Texas from Michigan to be closer to her son and his family. While she does not miss the snow she does miss seeing the 4 seasons change. In her spare time she enjoys traveling with her husband and spending time with family.

Nathan Clark, Director of Food and Beverage – employee since 2016
Hailing from the great state of Michigan; Nathan spent his early years traveling the world with his family as an Army dependent, finally ending in New York at West Point where his father served. Nathan graduated high school while also earning his Culinary Certificate at the same time. From there, he enlisted in the Air Force and was deployed in Desert Storm. He continued his career in food service while serving and was awarded “Best Chef in the Air Force” in 1999. Being Honorably Discharged in 2000, Nathan moved from Las Vegas to San Antonio and started working in the local restaurant scene in various roles, became bar manager and from there was promoted through the ranks to Director of Operations. Nathan’s philosophy is taking the freshest ingredients and creating the cleanest, healthiest meals possible all the while taking in resident feedback. His goal is to have the friendliest and best service in town. When Nathan is not working he enjoys playing golf, watching hockey and spending time with his family and friends.

Alan Holfinger, Director of Safety – employee since 2003
Alan has worked a variety of positions over his 8 years at Independence Hill. This has given him a great overall perspective of our entire campus of communities. This knowledge and experience has served him well as he manages the Night Management and Safety Department. Alan prides himself on providing the best service he can to the residents. He conducts CPR classes and monthly mandatory safety meetings for the staff, to ensure they are properly trained in the event of an emergency, giving our residents peace of mind knowing there is someone available to assist them 24 hours a day. Alan thinks of the residents as family and treats them as he would his own. He is an avid jokester and loves to make everyone’s day a bit more fun. He enjoys camping, riding motorcycles, restoring old cars, gardening and traveling with his wife and daughter.

Albert Gutierrez, Director of Maintenance – employee since 2002
Albert is passionate about helping people and continuously goes above and beyond, which is what it takes to lead the Independence Hill Maintenance Department. Years ago while working as a fabricator welding tractor trailers and fences, he was called to help take care of his elder uncle. He took on the care giver role and started his own business, getting properties ready for move-in or sale. In 2002, Albert started his career with Independence Hill as a Maintenance Technician, advanced to Assistant Director of Maintenance and is now the Director of Maintenance. He enjoys taking care of peoples needs and ensures our residents are living the “maintenance free lifestyle” they are promised. When he is not busy fixing something, he likes coastal fishing and spending time with his 3 grown children. Albert is proud to say that one of his sons has recently joined the Navy.

Gary Katleman, President Dial Communities
As President of Dial Communities, Gary has more than 20 years of property management experience, which includes serving as President of the San Antonio Apartment Association in 1998. He developed the membership concept of Independence Village in Stone Oak, a neighborhood of homes for active adults with a maintenance-free lifestyle. His vision was to provide a full spectrum of care for senior residents, with Independence Hill Retirement, Independence Hill Assisted Living and Independence Village, on one campus. Gary’s mission is to always be a step ahead in providing mature adults a quality, carefree lifestyle in a traditional small-town setting. Gary was raised in Nebraska and moved to San Antonio in 1987 where he has raised his two daughters and enjoys traveling and a friendly game of poker.

Joel Katleman, Founding Partner Dial Communities
In 1958, Joel founded Dial Communities, Omaha followed by Dial Communities, San Antonio in 1968 when he partnered with his son, Gary. He has been in the housing industry since he was 21. He does not believe that “No” or “Not Possible” are acceptable answers. Joel feels that there is always a way to improve the way things are done and how concerns are addressed. He always displays confidence in the quality and character of the people around him, and accepts his role of “Cheerleader” for the team. He believes that with a positive attitude, the world will smile with you. He is our true inspiration!

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