Kimberly Lody is stepping down as CEO of Dallas-based Sonida Senior Living, one of the country’s largest senior living providers, after holding the position for more than three-and-a-half years, the company announced Thursday morning.
Effective Sept. 2, Chief Operating Officer Brandon M. Ribar will assume the role, in accordance with the firm’s succession plan. He also will succeed Lody as a member of the company’s board of directors.
“As Sonida continues its recovery from the pandemic, I felt the time was right for me to place the reins of the organization into the hands of its next leader,” Lody said in a statement. “During the past several years, Brandon and I worked closely together on many key operational and balance sheet initiatives, and he is well-positioned to lead the company in its next phase of growth.”
Lody was named president and CEO of Sonida in January 2019, when the company was called Capital Senior Living. She succeeded Lawrence A. Cohen, who retired at the end of 2018. After consulting for Capital, he later founded Trustwell Living, and he continues to lead that company.
Lody had been a board member of Capital since 2014. At the time she was tapped to lead the company, her employment contract covered a time period through Dec. 31, 2021, with the option of being renewed in one-year increments.
In 2019, Lody said her priorities included improving the company’s operating performance, driving occupancy growth, stabilizing rates and strengthening the company’s financial position. She introduced a three-year turnaround plan called SING, standing for “stabilize, invest, nurture and grow,” to overhaul the company’s operations and resident programming, exit unprofitable leased assets and reshape its senior leadership team and central office into an efficient operating platform.
Sonida credited the process with the company’s recapitalization in November 2021 and subsequent debt refinancing to address the company’s near-term maturities. That same month, the company name was changed from Capital to Sonida.
“Kim led Sonida through a significant transformation while navigating the challenges brought on by COVID-19,” Sonida Board of Directors Chairman Dave Johnson said in a statement. “She has built a strong team that will continue to thrive and set the company on a path for future growth and success.”
That team includes Ribar, who has been COO of Sonida since September 2019. The company credited him as being “instrumental in planning and implementing improvements to the company’s operating model as well as navigating the COVID-19 response and driving the company’s rapid pace of occupancy recovery.” He also worked closely with Lody on the company’s portfolio divestitures, recapitalization transaction and debt refinancing, Sonida said.
Sonida, Ribar said in a press release, now has a “compelling opportunity … to leverage our operating platform to address the growing need for our exceptional quality of care at accessible prices.”
Ribar has ‘demonstrated effective leadership’
Ribar has more than 15 years of experience managing large portfolios and implementing key strategic initiatives in healthcare and real estate businesses, according to Sonida. Before joining Sonida, he was senior vice president of operations at Golden Living, where he oversaw 305 assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities with 20,000 employees across 21 states. Ribar also was Golden Living’s senior vice president of operational finance and strategy, leading initiatives within the portfolio’s skilled nursing, rehabilitation, home health and hospice businesses. Before that, he was vice president of healthcare investments at Fillmore Capital Partners, a real estate private equity firm with more than $5 billion in assets under management.
“Brandon has demonstrated effective leadership and a depth of operational expertise that has been key to the company’s turnaround and recovery,” Johnson said. “He always works tirelessly for our residents, employees and shareholders and brings passion and energy to the team. The Board is confident in his ability to lead Sonida in its next chapter of growth and value creation.”
Ribar thanked Lody “for her leadership and mentorship.”
“It has been a privilege working with her, and I am deeply appreciative for her support,” he said. “Sonida has made tremendous strides over the past several years and is well-positioned to accelerate its growth trajectory.”
Lody came with 25 years of experience
Lody came to Sonida, then known as Capital, with more than 25 years of experience in multi-site healthcare marketing, sales and operational management.
Most recently before her appointment, she had been president of GN Hearing North America, part of the medical device division of the GN Group. Before joining GN Hearing, Lody was vice president of marketing and then president of Chronic Care, the U.S. subsidiary of Coloplast, a global medical device manufacturer based in Denmark, from 2009 to 2011. From 2004 to 2009, she was an independent consultant, providing interim leadership and revenue enhancement programs to companies in healthcare, consumer products, automotive and insurance services.
Over the course of her career, Lody also was chief operating officer of Senior Home Care from 2003 to 2004, chief marketing officer of Gentiva Health Services from 1997 to 2003 and vice president of managed care programs for Apria Healthcare from 1994 to 1997.
2021 was ‘transformational’
The company had a “transformational” year in 2021, Lody said during the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2021 earnings call.
“Despite the emergence of multiple new [COVID-19] variants and a difficult operating environment throughout 2021, our pandemic recovery strategy to immediately and quickly drive occupancy improvements by short-term incentives to encourage move-ins was successful,” she said at the time. “Clearly, the work we did prior to the pandemic to strengthen our sales, marketing, clinical and operating processes quickly delivered occupancy growth,” she added.
On that same call, Lody said that the “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern” that the former Capital Senior Living had expressed in May 2020 due to COVID-19’s negative effects on occupancy no longer existed, based on an assessment of Sonida’s current financial position, its liquidity and potential sources of additional liquidity, continued improvement in overall occupancy and other factors.
On the company’s subsequent earnings call, the CEO said that the company experienced “a lot of good news” in the first quarter of 2022, making its first acquisition in almost five years in the first quarter with the purchase of two independent living communities in the Indianapolis area on Feb. 1 for $12.3 million in an all-cash transaction.
At that time, Lody also announced that Sonida had experienced four consecutive quarters of occupancy and revenue growth. Same-store weighted average occupancy for the quarter was 82.3%, a 680 basis point (6.8%) improvement compared with 75.5% during the same quarter of 2021 and a 100 basis point (1%) change from the previous quarter.
Additionally, Lody said at the time, same-store resident revenue increased 12% in the first quarter compared with the same quarter last year. Revenue per occupied unit, at $3,644 in the first quarter, increased 3.2% compared with the first quarter of 2021. Same-store net operating income increased 13% sequentially from the fourth quarter, and NOI margin increased 200 basis points (2%) from a low point of 18.2% in the fourth quarter, to 20.2% in the first quarter, she said.
One of largest providers
Sonida Senior Living is one of the largest senior living providers in the United States.
As Capital Senior Living, the company was listed as No. 14 on Argentum’s latest ranking of largest senior living providers, published in 2021 and based on total independent living, assisted living and memory care units as of Dec. 31, 2020.
Sonida also was No. 27 on the most recent ASHA 50 list of largest senior living operators and No. 33 on the ASHA 50 list of largest owners, published in late 2021 by the American Seniors Housing Association. The list included data as of June 1, 2021.
Additionally, the company ranked No. 19 on the list of largest assisted living providers compiled in 2021 by the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living. That list was based on Argentum’s 2020 Largest Providers Report, the 2020 LeadingAge Ziegler 200, company websites and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to data shared in a May 23 presentation filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company owns 62 communities and manages an additional 14 communities, with a total capacity for more than 9,500 residents. Forty-eight percent of the portfolio mix is assisted living, with 41% in independent living and 11% in memory care. States with the largest presence include Texas (24%), Ohio (20%), Indiana (18%) and Wisconsin (10%). Ninety percent of residents pay with private funds, with 10% paying via Medicaid.
Lody’s announced departure from Sonida Senior Living follows the May announcement of the departure of the CEO of another large senior living operator. Katherine “Katie” Potter’s last day leading Newton, MA-based AlerisLife, formerly known as Five Star Senior Living, was April 30. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Leer began serving as her successor on an interim basis the next day, and his appointment was made permanent in June.