Christopher Bilotto headshot
Christopher Bilotto

Diversified Healthcare Trust will see a change at the top in 2024 with the retirement of President and CEO Jennifer Francis.

The Newton, MA-based real estate investment trust announced Friday that Francis will step away from her executive positions at DHC and The RMR Group effective Dec. 31 and will retire from RMR on July 1. Succeeding her on Jan. 1 at DHC will be Christopher Bilotto, an executive vice president of The RMR Group and current president and chief operating officer of Newton, MA-based Office Properties Income Trust.

Both DHC and OPI are managed by The RMR Group, which also is based in Newton, MA. RMR also manages AlerisLife, the parent company of Fire Star Senior Living and a primary operator in DHC’s senior housing operating portfolio.

Francis’ impending departure follows a previous announcement by DHC of changes to its board and executive leadership team after calling off a proposed merger with OPI in August. If the merger had been approved, Bilotto was to lead the combined companies.

Francis, an RMR executive vice president, has been a member of DHC senior management since 2018 and a managing trustee since 2021. She will remain a non-executive employee of RMR during the transition and until her retirement and will continue afterward as a managing trustee of DHC.

RMR Group President and CEO Adam Portnoy congratulated Francis on her retirement and thanked her for 17 years of service to the company.

“Jennifer has made exceptional contributions to our company and provided tremendous mentorship and inspiration for the next generation of leaders at RMR,” Portnoy said in a statement. “As a result, I am confident that we have identified the right leaders to assume Jennifer’s roles at RMR and its managed companies, and that there will be a seamless transition of responsibilities during the coming months.”

In his role at RMR, Bilotto oversees portfolio management for all office, industrial and retail properties managed by RMR and hotel and senior living asset management, as well as US development and redevelopment. Before joining RMR in 2011, he worked at General Growth Properties. 

DHC also previously announced that it hired B. Riley Securities as its financial adviser to help evaluate options to address near-term capital needs, including upcoming debt maturities. 

During a recent third-quarter earnings call, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Matthew C. Brown said that DHC has more than $700 million in debt coming due next year and remains out of compliance with its debt and current covenant. But the REIT expects to regain compliance by the end of 2024.

As of Sept. 30, according to a presentation posted in conjunction with the release of third-quarter financial information, 119 of the 230 senior living communities in DHC’s senior housing operating portfolio were operated by Five Star. Other operators, according to the presentation, included Cedarhurst Senior Living, Charter Senior Living, IntegraCare Senior Living, Life Care Services, Navion Senior Solutions, Northstar Senior Living, Oaks-Caravita Senior Care, Omega Senior Living, Oaks Senior Living, Phoenix Senior Living, Stellar Senior Living and The RMR Group.

Outside of the senior housing operating portfolio, DHC’s senior living portfolio also includes 27 communities with triple net leases, with tenants including Brookdale Senior Living and Stratford Retirement.