Top executives at both companies are women of color in an industry that struggles with diversity in corporate leadership positions.
Retirement Unlimited, Inc. (“RUI”) acquisition of Brandywine Living in December 2023 creates a combined company of 59 communities with over 6,739 independent living, assisted living and memory care units. The 40-year-old company currently manages 28 communities across the East Coast and has additional communities in development. Brandywine was founded in 1996, with 31 senior living communities predominately concentrated in New Jersey. Additional communities are located in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. Following the transaction, the communities will continue to operate under the premiere Brandywine Living brand.
Brandywine Living and RUI are partners of Welltower, The largest REIT in senior housing, according to the American Seniors Housing Association’s ASHA 50 list for 2023, with 943 properties and a total of 95,281 units. RUI’s partnership with Welltower began in late 2022 when RUI assumed management of the former Fountains at Washington House in Alexandria, VA. With the management change, RUI also unveiled the community’s new name, Elancé at Alexandria, which represented the first installment in RUI’s new luxury brand of Elancé communities. Since that time, RUI has continued to scale through acquisitions and transitions.
The cornerstone of RUI’s management platform is its Signature Programs:
RUI University – lifelong learning program
Taste of RUI – culinary experience
RUI FIT – fitness and therapy services
Leash on Life – pet concierge services
LUXE Unlimited Salon and Spa
Care Impact – personalized care program
Inspiritás – memory care
RUI Concierge – individualized amenity service
MYRUI App – convenience of services at your fingertips
“We believe the alignment of our two companies’ cultures and missions, along with our shared partnership with Welltower, will aid in the integration of these well-located and market-leading communities into the RUI family,” RUI President Doris-Ellie Sullivan.
Continuing the Legacy of Diversity
Both RUI and Brandywine are progressive on the diversity front, leading by example. Sullivan and Brenda Bacon, Brandywine Living’s Co-Founder, President, and CEO are both women of color in an industry that continues to struggle to diversify, particularly within the top ranks of leadership.
At a recent NIC conference, Bacon said the industry must be prepared to have “uncomfortable conversations” about diversity. “You can literally walk into buildings and see that every customer is white, and everybody who’s working for them is Black or Hispanic. … That says something to you,” she said.
According to 2022 study from industry association Argentum and Ferguson Partners, just over a quarter of operators said they have a formal diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) program in place. An equal number of operators, 27%, said they have no formal program; while the rest said they don’t currently have a formal DEIB program but still aim to promote it within their companies.
A little more than half of the companies participating in the survey were managed by white men executives, while 36% were led by white women in executive management roles. Combined, white execs make up a whopping 82% of management in the industry today. Meanwhile, people of color make up a little more than half of the community-level workforce, and women comprise 78% of that workforce.
Marvell Adams, Jr., CEO of Caregiver Action Network, has been verbal about the need to change the “homogenous leadership structure” in senior living. “Leadership within aging services is pretty white and mostly male,” said on the Glowing Older podcast. “Without a strategy to be more inclusive, we will see a decline in our ability to serve older adults because of our inability to give them what they want.”