Sunrise at 40: Shining Bright Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Sunrise Senior Living  |  December 6, 2021
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Happy Anniversary, Sunrise Senior Living! 


On December 5, Sunrise marked an important milestone—40 years since founders Paul and Terry Klaassen opened the doors of their very first community. In starting Sunrise, they not only introduced a new choice for senior care, but created a revolutionary, resident-first approach that would become the industry standard. And now for four decades and counting, Sunrise has been shining bright and lighting the way for countless seniors and their families. 


It’s incredible to look back on the evolution of both the industry and the Sunrise brand, which continues to be informed by the changing needs and expectations of new generations of residents. We have experienced advancements in Alzheimer’s research and implemented evidence-based memory care programming. We have continued to build out and evolve our approach to assisted living and support. And we have enhanced our personalized care through hardworking designated care managers keeping residents’ individual needs at the core. We’ve also made great strides in our family communication, working to ensure families stay connected and involved in the day-to-day lives of their loved ones. This has never been more important than it is now, nearly two years into battling the COVID-19 pandemic.


What hasn’t changed in all this time, however, is the foundation that the Klaassens built: pioneering our approach to care that prioritizes the unique, individual needs of each resident and the Principles of Service and Core Values that still guide Sunrise today. The Klaassens’ commitment has grown from one to 274 communities across the United States and Canada, which today has capacity to serve more than 28,000 residents and employs more than 22,000 team members.


“I am proud of the fact that, by pioneering the assisted living movement in the United States, Sunrise has clearly helped improve the quality of life for literally millions of seniors and their families,” reflects Paul Klaassen. “We have done this directly by building hundreds of assisted living communities, but also by founding our national trade association and helping to set the bar and define quality long-term care in the assisted living setting.”​

Today, a new generation of leaders led by Chief Executive Officer Jack Callison, who joined the Sunrise team in April, look to the future with positivity and innovation.

“It is an honor of a lifetime to lead this team of serving hearts, watch our mission in action each day, and know that we are making a real, positive difference in the lives of our Sunrise families,” said Jack. “I am grateful for the hard work and path paved by our founders, leaders, and team members who came before us. They set a rock-solid foundation that will help us to thrive for many years to come. As I look to the future, I’m excited for the opportunity to further establish Sunrise’s leadership in the industry as a premier senior living provider and help bring the Sunrise difference and our personalized approach to care and service to many more residents and families.”

While grounded in its lasting and unique mission and founding principles, Sunrise looks toward the next 40 years through a modern lens. One that focuses on fostering a positive attitude among residents and team members alike. One that nurtures the spirit and makes every day count in a well-appointed, comfortable, and safe atmosphere that feels like home. We look forward to shining bright to continue to lead the industry and transform the lives of many more residents and families in the decades to come. 

For Paul Klaassen, he can’t help but be proud of the lasting legacy he and Terry leave behind four decades after taking a huge leap of faith and opening their very first community. “I’m proud to look back at each phase of Sunrise and now watch as it operates as a mature, effective, mission-oriented organization,” he said. “An organization that takes its mission seriously and still is setting the bar high for what quality assisted living and senior living means. You are all making a real difference in the lives of so many people. I’m proud to have been a part of making that happen.”

We encourage you to watch for new monthly 40th anniversary blogs throughout the next year as we highlight all that Sunrise has to offer and the important differentiators that set us apart.