The Square
News and perspectives from Covia.

During a recent webinar, Covia leadership gathered with prospective residents to give insight into management and operations at Covia. The webinar panel included Mary McMullin, Chief Strategy and Advancement Officer; Diana Jamison, Chief Financial Officer; Ron Schaefer, Chief Operating Officer; and Mary Linde, St. Paul’s Towers Executive Director. Katharine Miller of the Covia Foundation moderated the discussion.

The webinar offered prospective residents the opportunity to ask questions about Covia from a leadership perspective, including COVID-19 preparation, the upcoming affiliation, and adapting to socially distanced activities. Part 1 about Covia’s response to COVID-19 is available here and Part 2 about the upcoming affiliation can be found below.

Front Porch Affiliation

In the second half of the webinar, the Covia leadership team provided more information on Covia’s upcoming affiliation with Front Porch, a nonprofit senior living provider headquartered in Glendale, California. This affiliation, which is currently on schedule to close in early 2021, will create one of the nation’s top nonprofit organizations providing senior living, affordable housing, and community services for more than 10,000 individuals.  

Ron Schaefer, Chief Operating Officer, started the discussion of the affiliation by noting that both organizations “have a strong mission-driven nonprofit commitment of trying to bring excellence to all that we do. We have very similar guiding principles and core values as organizations.” The affiliation will allow for further “opportunities to serve our residents effectively and efficiently, bring best practices to what we do, and to enjoy the benefits of having a larger family across the whole state of California and a little bit beyond.”

Diana Jamison, Chief Financial Officer, shared that, from a financial perspective, both organizations are “coming from a position of strength.” Says Jamison, “We have strong operations, we have strong balance sheets, and we have great net assets. Both of our organizations are rated by Fitch and Front Porch is rated A and Covia is rated A-, which means that we’re both very strong and considered investment grade.” 

Jamison clarified the difference between an affiliation and a merger. With an affiliation, “You’re still your own separate organization. You come under control of common governance and common leadership, which is where you see the changes but there won’t be many changes with respect to your experience at any of our communities.”

Covia has 13 senior living communities located in the Bay Area: 5 market rate communities and 8 affordable communities. Mary McMullin, Chief Strategy and Advancement Officer, emphasized that the experience of living in a Covia community will be largely unchanged after the affiliation. “Our communities reflect their neighborhood, their location, the personality of their residents, and the voice of the residents. We do not see that changing because that’s really the lifeblood of this organization,” says McMullin. “Where I see the difference will be different teams up at Support Services. I don’t see changes ahead that are going to affect our quality, our dining options, how we manage activities and resident experience. I really see the difference as being more on the support side.”         

McMullin went on to highlight the positive differences that will result from this affiliation. “Some of the differences could be in access to resources as being part of a larger organization, which allows us to scale,” she says. Each organization also brings its own strengths to the affiliation. “Front Porch has resources that are different from ours,” says McMullin. “We have a robust community services division. Front Porch has the Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, which is focused on technology and innovation. Bringing these different strengths together, in addition to the financial strength, sets us up for a really successful future.”

McMullin also emphasized that “for residents who sign an agreement with us, the terms of that agreement stay in place throughout any transition.” Covia’s commitment to helping residents live well and age well remains a top priority. “Two not for profits coming together that are financially strong, with similar missions and similar focus, means that the terms of the agreements that residents sign with us are fulfilled, including that focus on the future,” says McMullin.

For the latest updates on the affiliation, please visit the respective affiliation sections of the Covia and Front Porch websites.

The Boards of Directors for Front Porch and Covia, two leading California-based not-for-profit senior living and affordable housing providers, voted on June 1 to affiliate.

The new affiliation will create one of the nation’s top not-for-profit organizations providing senior living, affordable housing and community services for more than 10,000 people. The combined organization will ensure long-term stability, achieve economic benefits, manage costs, and scale and access resources across 54 communities.

“Our affiliation with Front Porch creates a strong organization going forward that will support the changing needs of our residents,” said Vincent Forte, Chairman of the Covia Communities Board of Directors.

“Aligning our leadership, experience and expertise creates an opportunity to better meet the evolving expectations of a growing population of older adults,” said Oliver Wesson, Chairman of the Front Porch Board of Directors.

Covia CEO and President Kevin Gerber and Front Porch CEO John Woodward will remain in their positions during the transition. The boards agreed to retain the Front Porch name initially and appoint John Woodward as CEO of the combined entity. Kevin Gerber will leave upon the close of the affiliation, expected in early 2021.

“Combining with Covia strengthens our long-held goal of building strong and engaging communities, connecting people with the services and relationships they need to thrive,” Woodward said. “Under Kevin’s leadership, Covia has raised the bar for our industry and is the ideal partner to provide even greater service to all of our communities.”

“Our collective geographic footprints and service offerings will maximize Front Porch’s capacity to grow and diversify our reach and impact,” Gerber said. “I’m confident that under John’s guidance our affiliation will be a success.” 

The affiliation is subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals and is expected to close in early 2021. Front Porch and Covia will continue to operate their organizations and their respective communities separately until the affiliation is approved.

For more information, please visit our webpage at covia.org/affiliation