Brookdale Taps Best Buy Board Member for New Senior Living President Role

The nation’s largest senior housing provider has hired a former 3M executive and current Best Buy board member to fill a newly created senior living leadership role.

Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) announced Tuesday it had hired Cindy R. Kent as its new executive vice president and president of senior living. Kent is set to join the Brentwood, Tennessee-based senior living owner and operator in early January.

She comes to Brookdale after stints with companies such as 3M, Medtronic and Eli Lilly. Most recently, Kent was president and general manager of 3M’s infection prevention division as well as a member of the company’s executive conference.

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Kent has been on the board of directors of Best Buy since Oct. 2018, according to her LinkedIn profile. Best Buy is targeting senior consumers and senior-focused businesses as a tentpole of its strategy. In Aug. 2018, the electronics retail giant acquired GreatCall for $800 million. GreatCall provides a range of tech, including senior-friendly smartphones as well as health sensor devices, to older adult consumers and senior living communities customers.

Best Buy’s moves could make it a bigger senior care disruptor than other potential gamechangers like Amazon, according to a Morgan Stanley analysis released last September.

Brookdale’s senior housing portfolio numbered 794 communities in 45 states as of Sept. 30. The company touted Kent’s experience in partnering with payers, providers and clinicians as a significant reason for her hiring.

“We are pleased to have Cindy join Brookdale at this important time,” said Brookdale President and CEO Cindy Baier. “Her strategic insights and operational leadership experience will contribute greatly as we navigate our path forward within the evolving health care landscape.”

Brookdale declined to elaborate on the hiring when reached by Senior Housing News Tuesday afternoon.

Brookdale has created this position as it seeks to overcome industry-wide headwinds, including rising labor costs, as part of its ongoing turnaround efforts.

Brookdale has seen numerous C-suite shakeups since 2015, when the company completed the blockbuster acquisition of rival Emeritus Corp. to become the industry behemoth. The Emeritus integration quickly became troubled, and executive shakeups became part of the ongoing efforts to right the ship.

Among the notable leadership changes, Brookdale in Nov. 2015 hired a former Walmart executive, Labeed Diab, as COO. Around the same time, Baier — a Navigant Consulting alum — joined as CFO.

The next year, Brookdale President Mark Ohlendorf stepped down, and Diab resigned in 2017. In early 2018, CEO Andy Smith departed and Baier took the helm, as the company wrapped up a strategic review process and committed to an operational turnaround. That effort had reached the 5th inning, Baier told SHN in Aug. 2019.

The operator is striving to increase its average occupancy up to 89.5% by 2024, with a 7% net operating income (NOI) compound annual growth rate through that period, according to a five-year outlook released before its third-quarter earnings call in November.

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