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Leadership

Executive Team

Dwayne J. Clark, Chairman and CEO

Dwayne Clark and his motherDwayne J. Clark is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Aegis Living. With more than 30 years of senior housing experience, Dwayne is nationally known for the quality of projects he manages, as well as his innovative flair. He has been involved in the development, construction and/or management of over 200 senior housing projects.

Dwayne was raised from humble beginnings by a single mom who gave him his greatest gift, the confidence that he could do anything. Those early years of Dwayne’s life led him to the tireless pursuit of running a company in a different way, with staff satisfaction being a driving force. His success in creating an outstanding company culture has been chronicled in many publications. This passion prompted him to write a book, “Help Wanted: Recruiting, Hiring and Retaining Exceptional Staff.” The book has been used for course curriculum in many leading universities. Dwayne has written two additional books about his mom and her journey with Alzheimer’s, “My Mother, My Son” and “Saturdays with G.G.” He’s currently working on his fourth book about Greatest Practices of Longevity, entitled “from Grapes to Raisins” He also writes a blog for The Huffington Post.

When Dwayne co-founded Aegis Living, his mission was to redefine an industry that had great potential but was failing in execution. He studied business models from companies known for world-class innovation, all based in Seattle: Costco, Nordstrom and Starbucks. With the knowledge gained from these companies, he grew Aegis Living from a dream to a company that has over $1.5 billion in real estate assets, over $175 million in operating revenues, over 2,000 staff members and seven projects currently under development in the Seattle area. Aegis Living is one of the most sought-after operators in the country.

Prior to forming Aegis Living, Dwayne was Executive Vice President of Sunrise Senior Living, and spent seven years with Leisure Care. Aegis Living won the prestigious Best of Assisted Living Design 2015 as awarded by Senior Housing News. Aegis Living was named the 2014 Family Business Awards Growth Award by Seattle Business Magazine for its steady rise in new business. Dwayne has been honored in numerous ways for his contribution to business, as well as to senior housing. Aegis Living has been voted “Best Company to Work For” many times by various media organizations and published employee surveys. The company is ranked the highest in the nation in the senior living industry by Glassdoor, an online employee review site. Dwayne Clark was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007. He was also honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Senior Services. He was also honored with a program at Bastyr University named the “Dwayne J. Clark Healthy Aging Program” and was granted the Bastyr University Mission Award. Aegis Living was also named Best Retirement Facility by 425 Magazine three years in a row.

Dwayne has been involved in many philanthropic ventures, including his own not-for-profit organization, the Potato Soup Foundation, which serves the needs of Aegis Living line staff and their families during times of crisis. He has also served on the boards of Seattle-based Rainier Scholars and the 5th Avenue Theatre, as well as the Young Presidents’ Organization, where he served as Chairman of the Northwest Chapter. He’s an accomplished playwright. His first play, “Seven Ways to Get There” premiered in early 2015 at Seattle’s ACT Theatre. Through his company True Productions, Clark is also producing a new documentary premiering at the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival about NBA legend Spencer Haywood entitled, “Full Court: The Spencer Haywood Story.” Dwayne Clark also owns the Seattle-based Queen Bee Café, featuring traditional English crumpets with locally-sourced products in tasty combinations. 100% of Queen Bee Café profits go to local charities.

Dwayne is married to Terese, who owned a nurse consulting practice and previously ran a luxury day spa known as Spa Agio. He has two successful children, Adam and Ashley, who both work for Aegis Living. Adam manages Aegis of Marymoor and Ashley leads philanthropic partnerships.
Dwayne’s Blog

Judy Meleliat, President

Judy MeleliatAs President, Judy leads all operations, sales, marketing, human resources, clinical, analytics, legal and life enrichment departments for Aegis Living communities in California, Washington and Nevada.

As an entrepreneurial, seasoned brand manager, she brings a wealth of experience in growing brands and managing highly productive sales teams, and possesses a strong drive for innovation in her multi-faceted leadership role at Aegis Living.

Judy came to Aegis after serving in executive leadership roles with global brands, including Starbucks. There, she was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brand when the coffee company rolled out bottled Frappuccino, the company’s first consumer packaged product line, and later introduced Starbucks ice cream. She grew software giant Egghead from its pre-IPO status to a billion dollar company and was on the ground floor of the InSpa franchise. Judy also serves as a board member at FareStart, a non-profit organization providing culinary job training and placement programs for homeless and disadvantaged individuals.

Judy holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Tom Laborde, Chief Operations Officer

Ttom labordeom Laborde is Chief Operations Officer, supporting all Aegis Living communities in Washington, California and Nevada. A veteran of Aegis Living, Tom has grown a cadre of strong community leaders. Tom joined Aegis in 1998 when it was a “virtual” company – no communities yet open, but three under construction. From his start as a Marketing Director, Tom quickly transitioned to the role of Executive Director at Áegis of Napa. After opening the community and stabilizing the business, he was promoted into corporate operations, first as Regional Vice President in 2001, then to Vice President of Operations, then Senior Vice President of Operations and most recently, Chief Operations Officer in 2015. Tom is a staunch advocate for integrity in business, and works throughout Áegis to ensure that the company delivers on its service promises. Tom plays a key role in Áegis’ executive onboarding process and strives to help new administrators become highly successful and passionate industry leaders.

Prior to his time at Áegis, Tom enjoyed careers in risk management, physical therapy, and employment and training. For the past fifteen years, Tom has lived in the Napa Valley with his wife, Heather, and their two daughters. He is passionate about his family, actively volunteers to promote accountability in youth, and serves in the faith community.

Walter Jossart, Chief Financial Officer

Walter JossartWally is a key member of the Aegis team, with eight ground-up senior living community projects in process. His responsibility for modeling feasibility analysis of new development projects, analyzing potential land acquisitions, underwriting, obtaining construction loans, and raising outside investor equity capital are all vital to Aegis Living as it positions itself as a major force in the Seattle area senior housing market.

Since starting with Aegis in 2010, Wally has been promoted four times progressively from Finance Manager to Director of Finance, Vice President of Finance and, lastly, Senior Vice President of Finance, as the result of a number of notable accomplishments. During that time, Wally has underwritten, negotiated and closed $275 million in permanent mortgages, construction loans and lines of credit. He’s raised over $45 million in equity capital for new development and acquisitions. He has also participated with leadership in strategic planning for areas associated with our growth and asset management.

Prior to Aegis, Wally served at the investment advisory firm to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Cascade Investment, LLC. In these roles, he created financial models and cash flow projections, and conducted market research. He also developed asset valuation and performance analytics, processes and procedures for diverse portfolios. Aegis Living CEO and Founder Dwayne Clark says, “Wally will continue to strengthen and build relationships in the field where he’s been growing as an active leader at Aegis as he joins our President, Judy Meleliat, and Senior Vice President of Development, Walter Braun.”

Dr. Shirley Newell, Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Shirley NewellDr. Shirley Newell is Aegis Living’s first Chief Medical Officer. She comes to Aegis with over 30 years of health care experience and has been selected to fill a key leadership role in ensuring quality in resident care programs, as well implementing wellness practices and state-of-the-art programming. She is an integral part of the executive steering committee and will oversee Aegis Living’s healthcare staff.

Dr. Newell is a native New Mexican who has lived in Seattle since 1985. She received her B.A. from Occidental College, in Los Angeles, California. She attended graduate and medical school at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine and her Geriatric fellowship at the University of Oregon, and is boarded in both.

Dr. Newell has practiced Geriatrics and Internal Medicine in private practice at Medalia and the University of Washington Primary Care Clinics. In addition, her background includes experience in psychiatry, urgent and tertiary care, as well as research. Additionally, she has worked in a number of skilled nursing facilities as staff and in leadership roles. Most recently she served as Medical Director at Symetra, where she became boarded in Insurance Medicine.

Dr. Newell is married to Dr. David Newell, a neurosurgeon, and has two college-age daughters. She and her family enjoy the recreational opportunities in the Northwest as well as multiple hobbies, including traveling, cooking, reading and Pilates.

Rick Karnofski, Senior Vice-President Human Resources

Rick KornofskiRick Karnofski is the Senior Vice President, Human Resources, at Aegis Living and is responsible for recruiting, employee relations, benefits, compensation, workers’ compensation and risk management for all Aegis Living communities. Rick has over 25 years of experience in human resources, with diverse experience in the medical device, pharmaceutical, telecommunications and other high-tech industries.

Throughout his career, Rick’s focus has been on attracting top-level management talent to corporate teams, including those of Physio Control Corporation, NeoPath, nLight Photonics, MicroVision and Nastech Pharmaceutical Company. He was instrumental in developing their cultural identities and the human resources practices necessary for their development into successful companies. Rick received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Psychology from Central Methodist College in Fayette, MIssouri.

Elizabeth Chambers, General Counsel

Elizabeth ChambersIn her role as General Counsel for Aegis Living, Elizabeth oversees the company’s legal work, including managing the legal aspects of acquisitions, development, financing, employment, litigation, and contracts.

Prior to joining Aegis Living, Elizabeth was a partner at the Seattle law firm of Cairncross & Hempelmann, where she counseled established companies such as Aegis Living and Microsoft Corporation and their management teams, as well as start-up businesses and their founders. Her corporate practice included raising capital, acquisitions, general business counseling, contract negotiations and a significant mergers-and-acquisitions practice.

Elizabeth received her Bachelor of Arts from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and her J.D. from the University of Washington. Elizabeth commutes to work on a ferry from her home on Bainbridge Island, Washington, where she lives with her two elementary school-aged children, husband, and two naughty dogs.

Jerry Meyer, President Emeritus and Board of Directors

Jerry Meyer

Jerry Meyer is a seasoned, 30-year veteran of the senior housing industry. He is a member of the Board of Managers and the President, COO (emeritus) of Áegis Living. He remains active with the company on special projects and in staff training. During Jerry’s 14-year tenure at Áegis he oversaw the company’s expansion from nine to 42 communities, and the increase in revenues from $20 to $160 million. Jerry is proud to have helped cultivate Áegis’ unique culture of care and compassion for employees, residents and families. He also devised the company’s operating systems and oversaw daily operations.

Prior to joining Áegis Living, Jerry was the President, Founder, and CEO of SunBridge, Inc., a division of SunHealthcare, where he established the company’s assisted living division. There, he developed the business plan and secured new construction project financing for a 42-building rollout. Additionally, Jerry operated the company’s senior housing assets in Germany and successfully negotiated their sale.

Jerry was also the Vice President and CEO for the Assisted Living Division of Manor Care, Inc., where he started the assisted living division of the publicly-traded company, opened 22 communities and grew revenues from zero to $60 million in two years.

Jerry was CEO of the Senior Living Division of Advantage Health Management Corporation, where he simultaneously ran the company’s senior housing and hotel operations.

With experience in senior housing projects in Spain, France, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, China and the UK, Jerry brings an in-depth awareness of international trends in senior housing. His hospitality industry experience includes work for Doubletree Hotels as well as ownership and management of two restaurants.

Jerry is interested in education and training opportunities in senior housing. He has taught industry-related classes at Johns Hopkins University and University of Southern California. Jerry is one of the founders, and currently a visiting lecturer of the senior housing class at Washington State University in the Hospitality Management Program.

Jerry served on the board of the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority and was in an advisory capacity to its Senior Services Committee. Jerry also served for nine years and was President of the Board of FareStart, a culinary job training program for disadvantaged individuals. He is on the Advisory Board for DABVSA, an owner operator of Adult Daycare homes in Mexico. Jerry holds two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Missouri, Kansas City and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University.