As executive vice president, business development, for healthcare real estate investment trust (REIT) Welltower Inc. (NYSE: HCN), Mercedes Kerr leads business relationships in order to help the company grow its healthcare property portfolio, as the healthcare sector should remain robust even during times of volatility.

Kerr, who joined Toledo, Ohio-based Welltower Inc. in 2008, was promoted to her current role from senior vice president, business development, in 2016. Before joining Welltower, Kerr was vice president, acquisitions at HCP Inc. Kerr began her real estate development career in her native Mexico.

Kerr is associated with industry groups including: the Executive Committee of the American Seniors Housing Association; the Board of Counselors of the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology; and the Board of the California Assisted Living Association.

In addition to moving up Kerr, Welltower has been expanding its business development team through hires and promotions. For example, in August 2016, the company promoted Justin Hill to senior vice president, business development, where he will focus on Welltower’s West Coast portfolio. Hill reports to Kerr.

Welltower owns more than 1,400 properties, as trends reshaping healthcare M&A point to senior care. In October 2016, Welltower paid $1.15 billion for 19 properties in California from Vintage Senior Living. “Welltower’s acquisition of a 19-property portfolio from Vintage Senior Living in 2016 was a direct reflection of our strategy, which focuses on top metro markets with a growing population of seniors, favorable supply-and-demand fundamentals and high barriers to entry,” Kerr tells Mergers & Acquisitions. “Welltower’s business model as a publicly traded REIT offers reliable access to efficient capital, and we have built sophisticated systems to leverage our scale, drive down costs and identify best practices.”

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