New Year Rings In Key Executive Changes at Welltower, Holiday, Silverado, Kendal

by Jeff Shaw

Not even a full week into the new year, some of the seniors housing industry’s biggest companies have announced changes in their executive ranks. The players shuffling top personnel include giant REIT Welltower, independent living owner-operator Holiday Retirement, memory care developer Silverado and continuing care retirement community (CCRC) owner-operator Kendal Corp.

 At Holiday, Kai Hsiao has stepped down as CEO effective immediately due to personal health matters, but will stay on as vice chairman. Lilly Donohue, who has spent the last several years developing Shanghai Starcastle Senior Living Services, a seniors housing operator in Shanghai, as an executive for Fortress Investment Group, has been appointed CEO.

Based in Lake Oswego, Ore., Holiday is the 10th largest owner of seniors housing properties in the United States, and the second largest operator, according to the American Seniors Housing Association’s 2015 rankings. Hsiao previously worked for Macerich Co. and Canyon Ranch, and has been at Holiday since 2008.

According to Holiday, Donohue’s Fortress developments in China are some of the most successful foreign communities in the country by occupancy and profitability.

“The seniors housing industry is large and growing, with strong long-term fundamentals,” says Donohue. “I truly believe Holiday’s best days are yet to come.”

Meanwhile, Holiday’s executive vice president, Shamim Wu, has left the company to become president at COO at Irvine, Calif.-based Silverado. The newly created position will put Wu in charge of Silverado’s marketing, sales and operations teams. She will report directly to Loren Shook, the company’s chairman and CEO.

“This is an exciting time for Silverado as the company continues to expand into new markets,” says Wu. “I look forward to leading this talented team as Silverado continues to innovate the memory care experience while also becoming a leader in providing hospice and in-home care.”

Silverado currently operates 33 memory care communities in Arizona, California, Illinois, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, in addition to its hospice and home healthcare business, according to the company’s website.

Prior to her tenure at Holiday, Wu served as senior regional director of sales and marketing for Emeritus Senior Living. She is the chair of the Argentum Sales and Marketing Executive Roundtable.

Kendal Corp. also welcomed a new executive to its C-suite. Sean Kelly was promoted from director of new business development, a position he’s held since 2008, to become the new president and CEO.

Kelly will replace the retiring John Diffey, who has served as Kendal’s chief executive for over 20 years. Diffey will stay with the company on a part-time basis during the transition.

“I am thrilled with the board’s selection of Sean,” says Diffey. “He and I are committed to working closely together to orchestrate a smooth transition during this particularly healthy stage in the Kendal system’s history.”

Kelly joined Kendal in 2008 after 11 years with seniors housing consulting firm Retirement Living Services.

Kendal is still on the hunt for three other executives — a new corporate CFO, as well as replacements for Bill Silbert, director for marketing and public relations, and Beryl Goldman, director of outreach. Silbert and Goldman both plan to retire in June.

Based in Kennett Square, Pa., Kendal owns and operates 12 CCRCs totaling 3,729 units, according to the ASHA rankings.

Toledo, Ohio-based Welltower, the largest healthcare REIT in the country with a market cap of over $24 billion, has also added two new executives. Shankh Mitra was named senior vice president of finance and investments, while Tim McHugh was named vice president of finance and investments.

The pair will support the organization’s finance and capital markets teams under the leadership of CFO Scott Estes, and work closely with Scott Brinker, chief investment officer.

Mitra most recently worked for Millennium Partners, a global institutional asset management company, as portfolio manager of real estate securities. McHugh comes from RREEF Management LLC, part of Deutsche Bank’s asset management division, where he was a senior analyst focused on the healthcare, office and specialty sectors.

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