About Kirkwood

Kirkwood by the River is a faith-based Life Plan Community, established in 1980 as a ministry of Independent Presbyterian Church. Kirkwood’s name originated from a combination of the Scottish word “kirk,” meaning church, and “wood,” which describes its setting. Kirkwood by the River provides senior adults an active, independent community with the security of the full continuum of care.


Our History and Our Mission


Kirkwood opened its doors in the spring of 1980. But that opening day was the culmination of nearly 30 years of planning and work that included a team of ministers, corporate leaders, architects, and whole congregations.


Kirkwood began as a nonprofit created by the Independent Presbyterian Church to offer continuing care retirement to seniors. Kirkwood is open to all faiths and our chapel features beautiful stained glass and elegant stone walls, providing an ideal setting for spiritual reflection and worship. The Kirkwood spirit of caring lives up to its early origins and ideals. Everyone on our staff has the same purpose - to make meaningful, intentional connections with our residents and their families.

Our History

The 1950s

In the early 1950s, a group of Presbyterian women recognized the need for an “economical facility for seniors to live out their lives in security and comfort.” One of these women, Mrs. Eugene C. Ireland, and her husband started an endowment that became known as the “Ireland Fund.” This fund would grow to become the main source of funding for the community.

The 1960s

In 1965, over 95% of Presbyterian congregations put housing and care for the elderly as a top priority, resulting in the creation of a Ministries for The Elderly. As they pursued more funding and searched for an appropriate site for a faith-based retirement community, they realized that their vision needed to incorporate both housings as well as care and support services. They approved a concept for a facility that provides complete lifetime care, and that concept still defines Kirkwood today.


The 1970s

On November 15, 1975, the Presbyterian Retirement Homes of Birmingham was incorporated, with the congregation accepting their recommendation for a continuing care community.

Committees drew up plans for apartments, a chapel, library, dining hall and beauty parlor. It was a challenge to find the right location. Land prices inside the city limits were exorbitant. Then a committee member remembered a 68-acre site that rose above the Cahaba River. Not only was this site more in their price range, the members guessed correctly that the location would only grow in value and convenience. Architect Henry Spott Long was hired to design this new community which was supposed to have a home or retreat-like feel.

The 1980s-Present

In 1981, the Assisted Living wing now known as Riverview welcomed its first residents. Skyview, a six-floor wing of Independent Living apartments, opened in 1983. The church’s original vision had become reality.

Over the years, the Presbyterian community has continued to enhance and support the vision of Kirkwood. In addition to the support of the Presbytery, the Kirkwood Resident Association, composed of all Kirkwood residents, exists to promote the welfare, interests, and desires of the residents. Association committees gather to staff the library, improve the décor, volunteer in Skilled Nursing and Memory Care wings, and more. Kirkwood is viewed in the Birmingham area and beyond as an exemplary model of a senior living community.


Independent Presbyterian Church

Kirkwood began as a non-profit created by the Independent Presbyterian Church to offer continuing care retirement to adult seniors. Kirkwood is open to all faiths. Our chapel, where we gather for spiritual reflection and worship, is located at the heart of our main campus and features beautiful stained glass and elegant stone walls. The Kirkwood spirit of caring lives up to its early origins and ideals.


Alzheimer’s of Central

Established in 1991, Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama is a local organization helping local families. ACA serves 21 counties across central Alabama. 100% of the money they raise stays in Alabama.

Kirkwood by the River is a proud partner of ACA and we are committed to supporting their mission of "Serving Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers and professionals in central Alabama through education, caregiver services and research grants" by raising funds each year for this organization and the families they serve.

Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama Partner

For more information, visit their website at alzca.org.


Leadership Team

Kirkwood by the River is a community of friends and of caregivers. Our professionally-trained staff has years of experience in senior living, but even more important, they are dedicated and passionate about leading with care, kindness, and respect. Our staff members fulfill their roles while purposefully making meaningful, intentional connections with our residents and their families. Get to know a few of our staff members below.

Chad Carter began his role at Kirkwood by the River in October 2014. Chad brings to Kirkwood nearly two decades of experience in the senior care industry and believes that caring for God’s senior population is the greatest honor that any man could have. Chad has been a licensed Nursing Home Administrator for 18 years and has served in various leadership roles within nonprofit, multi-family life plan communities.

Melinda has been a part of Kirkwood by the River since 1996. Her favorite Kirkwood quality is the family-like atmosphere! When she is not serving our community, Melinda enjoys reading a good book and spending time with her family.

Jeff joined the staff of Kirkwood by the River in August 2013. He has been a licensed Nursing Home Administrator for more than 28 years. He is responsible for managing Assisted Living, Specialty Care Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing.

William joined the staff of Kirkwood by the River in 2005. With more than 30 years experience in Accounting as a CPA, he has devoted his career to providing care and services to nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Adeeb Thomas is an internist and has been in practice for more than 20 years in Birmingham, AL. Dr. Thomas graduated from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He is committed to meeting the specific needs and desires of each individual.

Sandi joined the marketing team at Kirkwood in October of 2011. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and was drawn to Kirkwood by the River for its mission and commitment to the “Greatest Generation.” She is dedicated to educating the community about senior living options in Birmingham, and she loves meeting with seniors and their families to hear their stories and their wishes for retirement.

Robin joined our team as the Human Resources Director in June of 2018 with over 18 years of Human Resources experience. Her experience has included many difference industries, working in the legal field as a Legal Assistant and handling various human resources areas. She has always had a desire to work in a retirement community and has enjoyed getting to know the employees, residents and their families here at Kirkwood.

Cevannah began her role as Director of Assisted Living at Kirkwood by the River in August 2018. With a background in medical, surgical, and cardiology at University of Alabama at Birmingham, Cevannah is also licensed as an Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Administrator. She was drawn to Kirkwood by the continuity of care, and she enjoys caring for residents and their spouses throughout all phases of retirement.

Beverly began her role as Nursing Director at Kirkwood by the River in 2017. With experience in Dialysis, Surgical, internal medicine, and orthopedics Beverly has worked in the Long Term Care industry for 15+ years. She loves the family environment as well as the awesome residents at Kirkwood by the River and works hard to give them the care they deserve.

Claudia joined the staff at Kirkwood by the River in March 2015. Born and raised a Texan, Claudia met and married a Birmingham native and became enchanted with The Magic City. She has shared most of her working life with adult seniors leading various types of fitness and exercise, activities and programs.

Amanda joined Kirkwood by the River in January 2019. She holds five years of experience in planning and assisting with senior living activities. She is excited to be a part of the Kirkwood family and believes in creating an environment where residents can enjoy a variety of engaging and uplifting daily activities.

The Rev. Dr. Cary Speaker joined the Kirkwood staff in 2024, but his familiarity with Kirkwood extends past employment to family experiences and volunteer roles. He has a Doctor of Ministry Degree and has an extensive background in pastoral care as he served as chaplain at multiple hospitals across the nation. Cary has also provided leadership in parishes for more than 25 years. His experience as a hospital chaplain, an educator on grief support, a minister of pastoral care, an associate pastor, and as head pastor of a congregation uniquely qualifies him for his role within our community. In his role as Chaplain, Cary can be found leading Bible studies across Kirkwood, visiting with residents and families within the community, and preaching during our weekly worship services. He encourages residents to participate in all the many areas Kirkwood has to offer.

Lisa joined the Kirkwood by the River staff in September of 1997. She is responsible for maintaining the accounting office duties while working closely with the CFO. Lisa enjoys developing friendships with our residents and their families to whom her door is always open!

Donny has been with Kirkwood by the River since 1996. His background is in Commercial and Residential Construction.

Lena joined the Kirkwood by the River staff in August of 2019. Her background of more than 10 years in the elder care industry coupled with her own personal experience of a mom with Alzheimer’s, has given her the understanding for the day to day needs and concerns of residents and their families. She views the opportunity to care for this generation as a privilege. Her goal for the Kirkwood community is to provide a standard of care second to none with compassion and respect to the residents and families we serve.

Joe joined Kirkwood in 2021 as a Physical Therapist with Select Rehabilitation and became the Rehab Director in 2023. Joe and his team provide therapy services to all levels of the Kirkwood by the River community. He enjoys working at Kirkwood because it is an active, vibrant community with a religious core and a family atmosphere.

Discover Birmingham

Known as “The Magic City,” Birmingham is the largest and most populated city in Alabama. It earned its nickname in the early 1880s as the industrial power boomed with its location at the intersection of two major railroads. Today, Birmingham offers entertainment, the arts, nightlife, outdoor recreation, and world-class cuisine while keeping its roots through the conservation and restoration of historical landmarks.

Birmingham has evolved from its origins as a steel town and is now a leader in the healthcare industry with a selection of hospitals as well as a premier medical school and research facility at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Revitalization efforts have earned Birmingham recognition as one of the nation’s best downtown areas. The city is home to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the largest municipal art museum in the Southeast. The Birmingham Barons minor league baseball team has drawn steady crowds since moving into a new downtown facility in 2012. The historic Avondale neighborhood has been transformed into one of the city’s hottest entertainment districts, earning recognition from such publications as Southern Living and The Atlantic.

The Birmingham area is the site of an annual PGA Champions Tour event, and mild, year-round temperatures in the area are perfect for a game of golf at one of the excellent golf courses.

With high-end shopping centers, dozens of art galleries, award-winning restaurants, a booming live-music scene, and more green space per capita than any other city in the nation, Birmingham offers the entertainment and attractions of big city living while providing warm and inviting Southern charm.


Career Opportunities

We strive to provide a Christian community of caring individuals dedicated to outstanding care and services. Our commitment to care allows older adults to enjoy the pleasure of living with dignity in safety and comfort. At Kirkwood, our staff ensures our residents' personal, spiritual and social needs can be met as they enjoy retirement living.


Because we are a Christian organization, our desire is to fully embrace a diverse community as God designed. For this reason, we strive to assure a diverse community that welcomes and values people with different backgrounds and viewpoints. We are committed to supporting awareness, understanding, and appreciation of differences in the workplace and community. This commitment enables each person to perform to their full potential.

To apply for a position, please complete our

Once completed, applications may
be emailed to careers@kirkwoodbytheriver.com or mailed to:

Re: Job Application
Kirkwood by the River
3605 Ratliff Road
Birmingham, AL 35210-4512

Career Opportunities

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The Residents

Our residents come from different backgrounds and bring their unique qualities, talents, and life experiences to complete the Kirkwood community. Here are just a few reflections from some individuals who call Kirkwood their home.

I fell in love with the cottage and the view from my back porch. I am excited to have a yard for Ginger, my poodle, to play in and my own garage, all within an established retirement community!

Charlotte Hamilton Current Resident

My husband and I looked at a number of places when deciding to move to a retirement community. For the most part, we found communities that said, ‘We’re going to take care of you.’ But Kirkwood was different. It wasn’t just about taking care of us. It was also about having fun, having friends, and living life to the fullest. The attitude at Kirkwood was positive and the atmosphere was comforting. We simply couldn’t resist. Without a doubt, the location was ideal. The Cahaba Room that overlooks the river, the mountains, the trails – there were just so many things about life. The community was lively. It was alive.

Alice Brooks Current Resident

We realized we were approaching an age where we might need more assistance than what just downsizing could provide. Knowing we have my sons nearby and the levels of care should we need it is comforting, and the beautiful hillside, river, and the woods makes it that much more appealing. We don’t know of any other community that has the woods, the various levels of care, and so many different amenities.

Phyllis and John Guschke Current Residents

We were moving my parents down from the Cleveland area to be near us. I looked at almost every retirement place in the Birmingham area. The second I turned into Kirkwood’s drive and drove up the hill, I knew that I’d found the perfect place for my parents to live in Alabama. In the six years that my parents have been at Kirkwood, I have always felt nothing but love and helpfulness from every staff member. Everyone is always helpful with a pleasant attitude. You can truly see and feel the family atmosphere. I’m happy that my parents can call Kirkwood their home.

Brenda Sheehan Kirkwood family member

When we learned that Cedar Ridge was being developed, that seemed to fit our needs very well. It is the ideal place for the next phase of our retirement.

Carol and Arthur Stephens Current Residents

One thing that we feel is very important here at Kirkwood by the River is the relationship that we have between the staff and the residents. They are dedicated to making our life here as safe and secure and pleasurable as possible. That goes a long way.

Fred Rogers Current Resident

The community's cottage living surrounded by a wooded, natural environment with access to future healthcare services is what attracted us to Kirkwood!

Rick and Jane Ricketts Current Residents