By Geert De Lombaerde

The directors of Brookdale Senior Living have chosen a veteran cruise line executive and a longtime health care consultant to stand for board election later this year as it seeks to fend off an activist investor’s push to increase his sway on the board.

Brentwood-based Brookdale said late Thursday its board wants Vicki Freed and Guy Sansone to fill the seats that will soon be vacated by Jackie Clegg and Jim Seward, who have served on the board since 2005 and 2008, respectively. Freed has been senior vice president of sales, trade support and service for Royal Caribbean International since 2008 and before that spent nearly three decades at Carnival Cruise Lines, where she rose to senior VP of sales and marketing. Sansone has more than 25 years of experience in health care consulting and is a managing director at Alvarez & Marsal, where he in 2004 launched (and still chairs) the health care industry group. In the senior health space, he has been chief restructuring officer and a board member of Erickson Retirement Communities and a senior consultant to Sunrise Senior Living.

“Vicki and Guy are well-respected and proven leaders, each possessing deep expertise across areas critical to Brookdale’s strategic vision,” said Clegg, who chairs the board’s nominating and corporate governance committee.

In a statement, Brookdale said it worked with executive search firm Korn Ferry International to find Freed and Sansone. Korn Ferry team members during the process interviewed Jonathan Litt, principal at investor Land & Buildings Management, and James Flaherty, another candidate put forward by Litt. But the Brookdale board said Wednesday that adding either Land & Buildings candidate “would diminish the overall quality of, and experience represented on, the board” as well as skew it too heavily toward real estate-based experience.

Litt has been agitating for big changes at Brookdale — most vocally for an aggressive sale-leaseback plan — and in 2017 secured board representation via a seat now filled by Marcus Bromley.

Shares of Brookdale (Ticker: BKD) ended Wednesday at $7.94, up 2.3 percent on the day. Over the past six months, they have climbed about 17 percent.

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