LCS Names Joel Nelson CEO, Ed Kenny Remains Chairman

Life Care Services (LCS), the third-largest U.S. senior housing operator, has promoted Joel Nelson to CEO and president.

The leadership change is effective Jan. 1, 2018, the company announced Thursday. Long-time CEO Ed Kenny (pictured above) will remain chairman of the board of Life Care Companies and LCS Holdings.

Based in Des Moines, Iowa, LCS manages and supports a variety of senior living communities, with a particular focus on continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). As of June 1, 2017, it managed 141 properties with a total of 34,400 residents, according to recent rankings from the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA).


“After 38 wonderful years with LCS, it was time that I put in place a planned retirement strategy for my role within the company,” said Kenny in a press release. “I know Joel will do a great job in his new role and we are confident about the future of LCS under his leadership.”

Nelson has served as president and COO of LCS since 2015 and has been with the company for more than 30 years. He has held several executive level positions including executive vice president (EVP), chief development officer and EVP, director of operations. Nelson serves on the board of managers for Life Care Companies and LCS Holdings.

Kenny has a 38-year track record in the senior living industry. He was a trainee in LCS’ second-ever training class and has one of the longest tenures at LCS, he told Senior Housing News’ Leadership Series last year.


Kenny will continue participating in corporate strategic planning discussions with the board of managers in his role as chairman, and he will also serve as president on the board of the LCS Foundation.

“Even though I am entering a new chapter in my life, I remain committed to supporting LCS, Joel and the senior living industry as needed,” Kenny said in the release.

Under Kenny’s leadership, LCS transitioned from being an employee-owned company to pursuing a minority investment, a change that he described as “transformational” in his Leadership Series interview.

“They [the minority investor] bought 30% and people were really concerned that we would lose the culture of the organization, that it would deteriorate our value system and change the focus,” he said in that interview. “That hasn’t happened at all.”

Kenny also expressed optimism about the senior housing and senior services sector, saying that the biggest challenge is moving the industry to do a better job of promoting itself and its services.

“I’m very optimistic about the future of senior living, and the key is moving forward,” he said in the Leadership Series interview. “We all need to focus in our markets, know our competition and invest in our workforce. If we do that we’re all going to have a lot of fun and enjoy a lot of success.”

Written by Maggie Flynn

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