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Former Rose Villa Leader Byrd Joins Kendal as New CEO

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After nearly a year-long search, the Kendal Corporation has named Vassar Byrd as its new CEO starting early next month, according to a news release from the company issued Tuesday.

Byrd most recently served as CEO of Portland, Oregon life plan community Rose Villa for 17 years before departing earlier this year after the completion of Rose Villa’s decade-long master plan and campus redevelopment effort.

Amy Harrison previously served as interim CEO. With a new top leader announced, Harrison will return to her CFO role, the company announced.

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In the release, Byrd called Kendal’s values “compelling.”

“In particular, the principles of respect and collaboration – welcoming every view to the table – are the path to the future. The strength and hope of this framework allow everyone to play a vital part in the vision of transforming the experience of aging, together,” Byrd said in the release.

Kendal Board Chairperson Annetha Hall added that Byrd brings, “a tenured career in our sector including most recently leading an innovative, forward-looking organization.”

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“She has wide-ranging experience, a background in both economics and gerontology, and most importantly, a true passion for making a real difference in people’s lives,” Hall said in the release.

While at Rose Villa, Byrd oversaw major redevelopment projects, from the addition of small homes to industry-leading environmental conservation efforts to create a zero emissions neighborhood.

Byrd’s appointment as CEO comes after a period of change for Newark, Delaware-based organization’s top leadership.

In late 2022, Sean Kelly, then-CEO of Kendall announced a move to Front Porch Communities and Services after joining in 2016. In that period, Kelly worked to push through new affiliations, projects and the expansion of Kendal at Home, along with the development of its Zen-inspired community Enso Village in California in partnership with the San Francisco Zen Center. The project recently opened in October, with a second Enso Village project planned for Los Angeles.

Through the transition of leaders, Kendal continued to reach new milestones, from relocating its corporate headquarters in September to the continued development work put into the Enso Village project in Healdsburg, California. Among that success has been progress on portfolio wide census, with all Kendal affiliates reporting 90% occupancy for independent living.

“Because of the success of Enso Village, we do have a lot of opportunities out there, and we need to be selective and smart about how we grow,” Kendal Chief Strategy Officer Stephen Bailey said in a September interview with SHN.

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