Watermark Hires Health Care Executive for New COO Role

Watermark Retirement Communities has named health care executive Karen Mlawsky to the company’s newly created COO position.

Mlawsky joins the Tucson, Arizona-based senior living provider as it embarks on a new strategic growth plan. Watermark currently operates more than 50 senior living communities in the U.S., with additional locations under development in Los Angeles, New York City, Tucson and elsewhere. The company also recently assumed management of six senior living communities in California and Arizona.

The hiring comes at a “key juncture” for the company, according to Watermark President and CEO David Barnes.


“She will help ensure that as we grow, we sustain Watermark’s culture of helping seniors thrive,” Barnes said in a press release about the hiring. “Additionally, with her acute care expertise, she will be invaluable in developing more practices that improve residents’ quality of life by lowering the need to be hospitalized or be readmitted after treatment.”

Leaders at Watermark were not immediately available on Tuesday afternoon for further comment on the hire.

Before joining Watermark, Mlawsky worked as senior vice president and COO of TMC Healthcare, a 650-bed community teaching hospital also located in Tucson. Additionally, her 30-year career includes senior executive positions with the University of Arizona Health Network and The Ohio State University Medical Center.


This isn’t the only recent hiring announcement connected to Watermark’s ongoing strategic growth plan. In February, the company named Andrea Ellen as managing director of new project development, a role that includes overseeing operations and branding for the provider’s new communities.

Watermark is pushing ahead with a new operating model with an innovative pricing structure — including non-refundable membership fees of up to $60,000 — and an “integrative wellness” approach that blends high-end, resort-like amenities and on-site health care offerings. The provider also last year got a new equity partner in the Keppel Corporation, a Singapore-based company known for building offshore oil rigs which acquired a 50% stake in Watermark for around $77.3 million.

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