International Women's Day Highlight

NEWS // February 18, 2020

International Women’s Day Spotlight: Cheryl Wilson of St. Paul’s Senior Services

Lauren McCormick, Communications Specialist, St. Paul's Senior Services

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality, with the first gathering held in 1911 and supported by over a million people.

For International Women’s Day, St. Paul’s Senior Services would like to honor all women who are making an impact in our communities and around the globe, including right here in San Diego County with their very own Chief Executive Officer, Cheryl Wilson.

Cheryl recently celebrated her 30th Anniversary as CEO at St. Paul’s Senior Services. She has been an integral part of the tremendous growth of the organization and is seen as a respected and inspirational leader by the staff.

Cheryl’s passionate and tenacious qualities have taken the organization from a small independent living community with 25 staff serving 50 seniors, to a revolutionary San Diego landmark in senior care. Today, St. Paul’s Senior Services is San Diego’s largest non-profit exclusively dedicated to senior care with over 1,000 residents and participants, served by more than 600 staff members.

Cheryl’s advocacy for homeless seniors has led St. Paul’s Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) to develop supportive housing for seniors in partnership with local developers that has provided apartments for more than 200 formerly homeless seniors.

Cheryl was recently interviewed by staff to learn more about her accomplishments, experience, and the career advice she has for others.

When you started your career as a nurse, did you visualize that you would be where you are today?

Never!  I started my career as a nurse and I thought my career would be focused on providing care to those in need using my nursing skills.

What single piece of advice would you offer new graduates to allow them to achieve a career similar to your achievements?

Walk through all the open doors, take advantage of every opportunity to grow, and learn, and aspire to great heights.

You work very hard, long hours, and travel a lot. What drives you?

The people, the seniors we serve, the wonderful staff, and the great leaders on the Board of Directors. I am so blessed to be surrounded by wonderful people.

What has been your primary “joy” at St. Paul’s and what has kept you here?

Being able to serve and make a difference!

Do you have any “out of the box” visions for the future of senior care?

I think it’s important to focus on housing with services, preventing homelessness of seniors, and creating opportunities for seniors to easily leave behind their stories with the younger generation.

How do you keep St. Paul’s abreast of senior care needs?

I am very actively involved with the Local, State, National, and International Associations and organizations that serve seniors and the communities they live in.

What is the biggest challenge you see on the horizon for seniors in this country?

Many don’t have a retirement nest egg, and Social Security will not support a senior completely. Housing and Food insecurity will be a result of the financial insecurity.

What has been the most rewarding thing that you have done at St. Paul's in the last 30 years?

Launching the Intergenerational Program which brings seniors and children together, and persevering 10 years in order to open St. Paul’s PACE so that we could help the underserved and low-income seniors.

Share with us some of your personal philosophies to maintain a well-balanced life.

I have faith, love of country, and I surround myself with wonderful people. I share the joy of every day, delight my work, and love my family with all my heart.


Ms. Wilson has dedicated her career to the care of seniors. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Prince Henry’s Nursing School and a master’s degree from the University of Redlands. Her nursing career began in the Australian outback, where she treated extreme medical cases under primitive conditions. She has won awards such as the Women Together, Salvation Army Woman of Dedication, Tribute to Women in Industry, and Mentor of the Year. She highlights her passion for senior healthcare as a member of LeadingAge California, LeadingAge National, Global Aging Network, Howell Foundation, San Diego Senior Alliance, Don’t Wait Vaccinate Committee, San Diego Rotary Club 33 and the Senior Services Committee. She uses her expertise at St. Paul’s to manage a complex matrix of senior care services through their amazing staff and provides innovative services of excellence to seniors at all levels of the economic market with compassion each and every day.