MorningStar’s Managing Partner—
MorningStar Senior Living is a leading developer and operator of premier communities within the senior living landscape, headquartered in Denver, Colorado.
Our portfolio encompasses over 25 communities and 3,000 units under operation or development, with an ownership interest in the majority. Whether for a new build, acquisition or turnaround property, MorningStar consistently delivers operating margins above industry norms and exceptional overall returns to investors and partners.
MorningStar’s footprint is geographically diverse, yet, with communities clustered in the Western U.S., our executive leadership can support local operations with a significant degree of touch and an array of centralized resources.
Ken Jaeger founded MorningStar Senior Living on a basic, but profound truth: to honor God in all aspects of our business practices and relationships, which transcends to a superior quality of life for MorningStar’s residents. With a principled approach and adherence to our original mission, MorningStar has enjoyed prodigious growth since inception. As a reflection of that success, Ken was named a recipient of the prestigious EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 award in the Mountain Desert region in the Healthcare and Lifesciences category.
Ken brings over 25 years of operational experience in the senior living industry, including successful startups, acquisitions, turnaround of distressed properties and multi-site leadership. Earlier in his career, he held executive level positions where he was responsible for operating 50 communities in the western United States. From 1998 to 2002, Ken served as
VP of Operations for Sunrise Senior Living, where he was responsible for the successful startup of 17 new communities.
Heavily involved in serving the poor around the world, he has given much of his time and resources over the last nine years to building and funding an orphanage in Nicaragua. Read more at Serving Globally. Ken attended University of Minnesota at Moorhead where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health Care.
Matt and Ken were drawn to each other as much by their complementary skills and experience as by their shared calling to serve seniors as they serve the poor in developing nations. (More on that at MorningStarSeniorLiving.com, Serving Globally.)
Their united efforts have propelled MorningStar to national prominence as a brand that is successfully blending margin and mission. The platform has become a fully integrated developer, owner and operator of first-class senior living communities.
Matt now serves as Managing Partner of MorningStar and Ovation, MorningStar’s affiliated real estate investment and development arm, which he founded in 2011. Under his leadership, the portfolio has grown to over 30 properties in the western half of the U.S., comprising over 4,000 units for independent and assisted living and memory care.
Matt invests time in several non-profit boards, including ACE Scholarships and Denver Institute for Faith and Work. He was selected in 2018 as one of Denver’s “40 under 40” by The Denver Business Journal and as a “Senior Living Leader under 40” by Argentum. He is an active member of the Colorado Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a graduate of the Leadership Denver program.
Joe Mikalajunas credits his maternal grandparents with his life calling. “There is little doubt that my love for seniors started with my love for them. They instilled in me a deep respect and admiration for older adults.” They taught me that seniors have much to give back to the generations that follow them.
Thus inspired, it was important for Joe to find a senior living company that mirrored those core values in its day-to-day practices. “MorningStar is such a company, one that lives and breathes service. Whether it is service to seniors, service to each other, or service to God, MorningStar nurtures a culture where team members have the opportunity to make a positive difference in people and the world around them.”
Joe brings over 22 years of operational experience to MorningStar, beginning
in 1996 as an Executive Director with Sunrise Senior Living. Since then, Joe has served as Regional Director of Operations, Chief Operating Officer and President in several companies: Sunrise Senior Living, Marriott Senior Living and Spectrum Retirement Communities. Joe brings a strong track record in building cohesive teams and achieving operational excellence. He understands how to attract top talent that fit the brand culture, then lead them to delivering high performance. “You cannot sustain great performance without top performers, and you cannot retain top performers without a great culture that leads with heart.”
Joe earned a B.A in Political Science and a M.S in Pastoral Counseling, both from Loyola University in Maryland. He enjoys spending leisure time with wife Kristi, his three children and friends.
Seniors have mentored me throughout my life, helping me in times of need with critical decisions. Carrying their words of wisdom, I’ve replayed them in my mind when seeking the best path. My Grandmother Jocelyn was an inspiration in many ways by her modeling of how to give, love and connect with others. She put a lot of energy into keeping our family close, which returned great joy to her and everyone around her. Mine is a deep respect and strong connection with seniors. I’m honored to be in a position that serves them through giving back.”
Eric’s career in finance and accounting spans over 25 years. Early in his career, at Great West Life, he led a financial analysis team that identified and corrected system issues that impacted clients group health insurance plans. Next, he served as Assistant VP of Budgeting and Forecasting and as Assistant
Controller for GMAC/CapMark which ranked #3 on the Fortune 500. There, Eric performed modeling and forecasting within its real estate investment banking division. As Manager of Accounting for AIMCO, a Fortune 100 company in the REIT sector, Eric handled the complex accounting for over $2 Billion of dispositions and other transactions such as acquisitions, tenders, mergers and 1031 exchanges. In subsequent years he served as VP of Finance and Accounting for a private equity firm with assets of $400MM in gross value and $50MM in annual revenue. As Senior VP and Controller of a residential mortgage loan servicer, Eric oversaw the accounting and finance departments with a staff of 25. His last position was CFO of SALT Lending, a FinTech company offering innovative blockchain-backed lending solutions and products.
Eric was drawn to MorningStar Senior Living by its alignment in mission and purpose. “MorningStar’s core values echo through its halls, reminding and guiding the team in our joint calling. These principles build and perpetuate a healthy culture that extends far beyond simple profitability measurements.” For Eric, there is pride in being a part of a company that understands the importance of seniors living their years in a community filled with loving care, security, warmth and fun.
He earned a BA in economics at Rutgers University and an MBA at the University of Louisville, and holds an active Colorado CPA license.
Brandon Lesniak joined MorningStar in 2017 as Senior Vice President of Investments, bringing 14 years of senior living experience in development, acquisitions, capital structuring, underwriting and asset management. In his career, he’s operated and/or managed over $4 billion of real estate assets, 500+ communities and 15+ developments across the US.
“I want to be part of more than a thriving business enterprise. My personal values insist upon it. MorningStar is on such a course. The company makes its priorities clear; upfront, it’s about honoring God. The mission of MorningStar is lived out with authenticity and integrity. It’s put into action. That’s rare, and that struck me at my core.”
His introduction to senior living started with HCR-ManorCare working in marketing and operations at the communities before expanding to a regional role throughout the Midwest. “While I enjoyed the business model of
post-acute and long-term care, what impacted me most was seeing the goodness of people, caregivers going above and beyond to do the right thing and become family to the residents. That was inspiring. I knew this was where I wanted to invest my own skills.”
Brandon then joined Welltower (formerly Healthcare REIT) as Vice President of Investments where he led a team from underwriting through asset management resulting in $3 billion of real estate assets and 400+ properties over a five-year span. The following two years Brandon served as Vice President for PNC Real Estate, and prior to joining MorningStar, Brandon served as Senior Vice President of Senior Living and Healthcare for Kirco, a family owned commercial real estate firm. Brandon has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Michigan State University and earned an MBA from the University of Detroit–Mercy.
As a girl, Angela Clark noticed that her bike seemed to steer itself to the local nursing home. Drawn to the residents within, she found joy in volunteering and, ultimately, found her life calling. “I am blessed to have been given a career of service that speaks into the lives of seniors when it matters most.”
In her role as Senior VP of Sales and Business Development, Angela brings over 20 years of operational management in senior housing. Her executive leadership roles have encompassed the areas of sales and marketing, sales training and development, operational strategy, multi-site management, strategic planning and new product development. As an ambassador of growing brands, Angela developed further expertise in business acquisitions and changes of ownership.
Her career began with Sunrise Senior Living in California, her home state. In
Her entrepreneurial strengths were built during the 1-1/2 years she founded and operated Living Your Choice, a referral agency, before selling the start-up to an investor. She has also taught consumer marketing and sales strategy at both Washington State University and the University of Phoenix.
Angela holds a B.S in nursing from the University of Kansas (board-certified in California), an MBA from University of Phoenix, and has completed digital marketing coursework from Columbia University.
In joining our team in 2020, Angela remarks, “MorningStar is distinguished by its true heart, a foundation of love and mission that began with Ken, but has since become the prevailing spirit of its culture. Many companies can declare core values or a corporate mission, but at MorningStar you can feel it in the daily operations, in the people who represent its name.”
“Every once in a while I get to work with and meet people who have something very special and very right going on. There is a tone here at MorningStar and you can feel it. I want to congratulate you for that, and encourage you to move forward. And keep doing it.”
– Dr. Nathan Mellor, Strata Leadership