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New Operator Empower Living Launches with Recent USC Alum at Helm

A new senior living operator with communities in the Midwest and Southeast has launched, and it’s being led by a recent graduate of USC’s Senior Living Hospitality program.

While the Dallas-based operator, Empower Living, is still relatively small with just two communities in Texas and Georgia and a link to another in Missouri, the company has plans to scale up in the months and years ahead.

But the operator is especially unique in that its CEO, Mark Reisman, may exemplify a new class of leaders in the senior living industry as the industry searches for ways to expand the senior living talent and leadership pool. Reisman in May graduated from USC’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology with a Master of Arts in Senior Living Hospitality degree.

USC launched its senior living master’s program just three years ago in 2019, and if Reisman’s passion for the industry is any indication, it’s already bearing fruit in creating a new class of senior living industry leaders.

Similar programs have sprouted up across the country in recent years, such as at Boston University, which last year launched a ​​senior living concentration for its School of Hospitality’s Master of Management in Hospitality program. Other programs include Washington University’s Granger Cobb Institute and Georgetown University’s senior living administration graduate program.

Reisman said he first explored the senior living industry wanting to be an investor in it, as he had invested in real estate on a “small-time” basis over the previous two decades. He also was CFO and eventually CEO of WindRiver Management Corporation, a real estate manager and developer.

But it wasn’t until 2020 that he began taking a closer look at starting a senior housing business, and wanted to learn more about operations. A fateful web search brought him to USC’s senior living master’s program.

“I Googled ‘master of senior living,’ and this program at USC pops up,” he told Senior Housing News. “I’m from Los Angeles, so it felt a little serendipitous.”

Over the following two years, he learned the ins and outs of the senior living business in classes, with added guidance from some of the industry’s top leaders, such as Juniper Communities’ Lynne Katzmann. He also in 2021 took a role as chief of acquisitions and asset management for Touzi Capital, a position that also tasked him with overseeing The Grand Royale, an independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing community in Kansas City, Missouri.

Then, in May 2022, Empower Living acquired Camellia Place, a senior living community in Woodstock, Georgia. The deal marks the beginning of a strategy to grow through acquisitions in the Midwest and Southeast, Reisman said.

Although all product types are on the table, he added he is particularly interested in cracking the middle-market code given the looming demand for it ahead. As the company acquires communities, it will for now keep their branding and name intact.

“We’re going to take it case-by-case going forward,” Reisman said. “And if one day, it makes sense to have a branded community or set of communities, then I’m going to do that.”

While the company “has the skill set to do development,” he said it is still looking for capital partners for those deals. Touzi Capital is another potential partner, and Reisman will continue to work with the company as he leads Empower Living.

“We’re looking for smart acquisitions and we want to grow, but we want to do it smart,” he said. “We can’t get ahead of our skis.”

The post New Operator Empower Living Launches with Recent USC Alum at Helm appeared first on Senior Housing News.

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