The Economic Club of Chicago announced at its 91st Annual Dinner Meeting that Debra A. Cafaro, chairman and CEO of Ventas, Inc., has been selected chair of its board of directors effective July 1, 2019. Cafaro will succeed Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, whose two-year term will end on June 30.
“I am thrilled to be succeeded as chair of The Economic Club by Debra Cafaro,” said Hobson. “Debra is an outstanding business leader, and she has been an active member and served on the board for many years. For over nine decades, the Club has brought world-class minds to our city to discuss the most pressing issues of the day. I am certain Debra and the board will continue this tradition of excellence going forward. We are lucky to have her as our next chair.”
Cafaro is the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Ventas, Inc., an S&P 500 company and real estate investment trust that owns more than 1,200 healthcare, life science and senior living properties in North America and the United Kingdom and serves as the premier capital provider to leading care providers and research institutions. During her tenure, Cafaro set and oversaw execution of a long-term strategy that has driven Ventas’s market capitalization to $27 billion at its peak, from $200 million since her leadership began in 1999. The company’s compound annual total shareholder return has exceeded 23 percent since January 1, 2000.
“The Economic Club of Chicago is a historic and highly relevant organization that sparks dialogue on important topics and serves as a positive force in our city, and I am honored to carry on that proud legacy as its new chair,” said Cafaro. “I look forward to working with the board and the outstanding ECC team to build on our momentum in an engaging and innovative direction for the future. Thank you to Mellody and the prior chairs for their incredible contributions to Chicago and the Club’s enduring success.”
In addition to her work at Ventas, Cafaro was named chair of The Real Estate Roundtable in 2018, a public policy organization that brings together leaders of the nation’s top real estate ownership, development, lending and management firms to address key national policy issues relating to real estate. She is also a member of the Business Council, serves on the boards of The Economic Club of Chicago, The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., the University of Chicago, Chicago Infrastructure Trust, Executives’ Club of Chicago and World Business Chicago and is on the board of trustees for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Lastly, Cafaro is an owner and member of the Management Committee of the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We are delighted that Debra will be chairing the board of directors at The Economic Club of Chicago,” said Donna Zarcone, president and CEO of the Club. “Debra has been a great contributor as a member of the Executive Committee for the past three years and I am very excited to work with her as our new chair.”