Vicki Freed, left, and Guy Sansone have been
recommended by the Brookdale Board
of Directors as replacements for
current board members Jackie Clegg and
James R. Seward, who are retiring
from their board positions.

Brentwood, TN-based Brookdale Senior Living announced Wednesday the two nominees that members of its Board of Directors unanimously have proposed to succeed two board members who are stepping down. In making the decision, board members passed over two candidates suggested by an activist shareholder.

Vicki Freed and Guy Sansone have been recommended by the board as replacements for current board members Jackie Clegg and James R. Seward, who are not seeking re-election as their terms expire this year. Board member elections will occur at Brookdale’s annual meeting, the date of which the company expects to announce soon.

Freed is senior vice president of sales, trade support and service at Royal Caribbean International and has more than 25 years of executive leadership experience in the areas of sales, customer service and marketing, according to Brookdale.

Sansone is a managing director and chairman of the Healthcare Industry Group at global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal. He has more than 25 years of experience working as a senior adviser and executive leading efforts to optimize the performance of companies. Sansone’s previous senior living experience includes time as chief restructuring officer, as a member of the board of Erickson Retirement Communities and as a consultant to Sunrise Senior Living and Brandywine Living. He also previously was named as a consultant on behalf of Quality Care Properties to help ensure a smooth transition of leadership and ownership of HCR ManorCare and at one time was expected to be the new CEO of ManorCare after its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

“Vicki’s extensive leadership experience in sales, customer service and marketing within the hospitality industry, along with Guy’s financial expertise, broad knowledge of the healthcare and senior housing industries, and experience as a strategic adviser, will further our ongoing efforts to capitalize on national demographic tailwinds and offer our exceptional care to an ever-growing base of American seniors,” said Lucinda “Cindy” Baier, president and CEO of Brookdale, the country’s largest senior living company. Baier also is a member of the board of directors.

Brookdale said the nominations followed a comprehensive search, with candidates identified, reviewed and interviewed by executive search firm Korn Ferry International.

As part of the search process, Brookdale said, Korn Ferry interviewed Jonathan Litt and James Flaherty, the director nominees put forth by Land & Buildings. Litt is the Stamford, CT-based registered investment manager’s founder and chief investment officer. He also is a Brookdale shareholder who has characterized the company as underperforming financially and has publicly called on the company to take certain steps to maximize shareholder value. Flaherty is the former CEO of real estate investment trust HCP.

“After considering their backgrounds, their prior work experience, previous interactions with Mr. Litt, and the results of Korn Ferry’s interviews, the Committee believed that electing either Mr. Litt or Mr. Flaherty, instead of Ms. Freed and Mr. Sansone, would diminish the overall quality of, and experience represented on, the Board,” Brookdale said. “The Committee also believed that electing either Mr. Litt or Mr. Flaherty would result in a Board with a bias towards experience in real estate, as opposed to one comprised of the broader set of skills necessary to oversee the wide-ranging demands of a healthcare company which intentionally owns real estate.”

Three of the eight people currently on Brookdale’s board have real estate experience, the organization noted.

A spokesman for Land & Buildings told McKnight’s Senior Living that the company had no comment on the Brookdale announcement Wednesday.

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