Editor’s Note: The McKnight’s Senior Living Daily Briefing and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Daily Update e-newsletters are profiling each of the McKnight’s 2020 Women of Distinction honorees now through the July 28 online awards celebration. To learn more about the 2020 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Awards, or the accompanying Forum, which offers three free CE credits the next morning (July 29), visit mcknightswomenofdistinction.com.

Lucinda Baier headshot
Lucinda “Cindy” Baier

Lucinda “Cindy” Baier became president and CEO at the country’s largest senior living company, Brookdale Senior Living, in early 2018 after having been chief financial officer since late 2015. She took the helm at the firm’s most challenging time, with the board having just completed a strategic review and deciding to change leadership and not sell the company. Facing pressure from shareholders and an urgent need to turn around the business, Baier developed a multi-year strategy, trying to balance the needs of residents, employees and shareholders. According to several measures, she is seeing success in those efforts.

Today, Brookdale is a $4.1 billion company with 50,000 employees and the ability to serve more than 65,000 residents through its independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities and more than 20,000 patients through its home health, hospice and outpatient therapy services business. Fortune magazine ranks Brookdale as one of 150 largest publicly listed employers in the country.

Having had more than 1,100 senior living communities at one point, the portfolio has been pared under Baier’s leadership and as of May included approximately 740 communities.

During her tenure, Brookdale’s net promoter score, a measure of customer satisfaction, has increased 20% since the last survey, and the company has launched an apprenticeship program designed to help employees achieve their full potential. Baier also has worked to foster internal and external communication, establishing Brookdale’s first national meeting; visiting employees, residents and shareholders, joining industry boards; and speaking about at financial and industry conferences.

Diversity is critical in healthcare, Baier maintains. Thanks to efforts by her and her fellow Brookdale directors, the board now is 44% women, and the board welcomed its first African American member. Brookdale also has achieved gender parity at the highest level of its management team.

“Our goal at Brookdale is to build the best team in the industry,” Baier previously told McKnight’s Senior Living, “and the only way that you can do that is with a diverse executive team.”

Outside of her direct corporate responsibilities, Baier is a member of the board of directors of the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry and the Nashville Health Care Council, for which she chairs the finance and investment committee.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare. The Silver sponsors are OnShift and PharMerica, and the Signature sponsor is Acadia Pharmaceuticals.