Servant-leadership at MorningStar
Reimagining Senior Living
Founded in 2003 by Ken Jaeger, MorningStar Senior Living is a leading developer and operator of premier communities within the senior living landscape, headquartered in Denver, Colorado.
MorningStar’s 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.
Offering independent living, assisted living & memory care, MorningStar is privileged to elevate life for those who taught the rest of us how to live.
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.
Born and raised in Southern California, Jamie Ranzan is Chief Financial Officer of MorningStar Senior Living. With the support of her husband and two children, Jamie enthusiastically relocated to Colorado in 2016 to join MorningStar’s mission. Her objective was to be part of a senior housing company that aligned with her core values and held to the foundational principle of honoring God, and to be part of a team that provides the best care possible for seniors.
Jamie is quick to credit her grandparents for the formation of her character. From these beloved seniors did she discover a greater calling, that of serving with passion and compassion. Through Grandmother Jane’s 10-year struggle with Alzheimer’s, Jamie learned keenly how devastating this disease is to the entire family. Not a day goes by in which she doesn’t draw inspiration from the amazing soul who was (and is) Jane Riley.
Jamie began her career at Ernst & Young as an auditor in the real estate group of its Orange County office. Jamie has spent her career working in various areas of real estate, including homebuilding, development, land acquisitions and senior living. She was most recently the CFO/VP of Corporate Finance for a senior living company in Southern California where she was responsible for acquisitions, dispositions, accounting, finance, insurance, tax and compliance. Prior she was with KBS Realty Advisors in Newport Beach, where she was responsible for an 800+ commercial property, a $1.8B portfolio with assets across the U.S.
Jamie holds a degree in Business Management with an emphasis in Finance from Chapman University, and an MBA from Pepperdine University. She and her family enjoy time spent skiing and exploring beautiful Colorado.
Ann Esposito’s 35-year career in senior living first took shape as a small child when she began a tender relationship with a frail couple who lived next door. “I would visit the O’Briens often, and we became the best of friends. I liked their sweets, their stories, and their style of dress, grammar and hospitality. What better teachers could a six-year-old have? And I knew I was bringing them ‘magic’ by the way they lit up when I walked through their door.”
Ann’s first experience with hands-on personal care was as a soldier assigned to working with military vets at Sam Houston Hospital in San Antonio. Immediately upon honorable discharge, she enrolled in one of the country’s first university-level programs for the care of older adults at Kent State, earning her B.A degree in Gerontology.
In the years that followed, she invested her skills as a senior executive in Skilled Nursing Facilities; Acute Rehabilitation Hospitals; Behavioral Health
Centers; Continuing Care Retirement Campuses; and Independent, Assisted and Memory Care Communities.Centers; Continuing Care Retirement Campuses; and Independent, Assisted and Memory Care Communities.
She joined MorningStar in 2013, seeing its mission and philosophy as an ideal setting in which to continue elevating the lives of older adults.
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.
“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