Profile: Beth Burnham Mace

Beth Burnham Mace, Chief Economist, NIC
Beth Burnham Mace, Chief Economist, NIC

As Beth Mace has moved along her path with the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, the journey has become personal. 

Fifth-oldest of six children (and the younger of two daughters), she helped move her mother from Florida to an assisted living facility near her own home in Lexington, MA, in 2012.

“The move was psychologically tough, particularly for my mom, who was fiercely independent,” she recalls.

Mace has spent her career building her knowledge of broader real estate markets for pension plans looking for smart investment opportunities. She saw then the increasing interest in retirement communities but knew how hard it could be to collect solid information on competition and demand.

While working for AEW Capital Management, she accepted a volunteer board position with NIC. After seven years, she jumped full-time to the nonprofit world, becoming NIC's first chief economist and director of capital markets research.

She collects and drills down data to help identify trends and opportunities — a job that gives her more influence over services for future generations.

Chuck Harry, a fellow member of NIC's outreach team, says Mace's decades of experience help the organization create better time-sensitive data. Her inquisitiveness and understanding of market factors has brought such integrity to NIC that the organization has shifted from event- and network-centric to one known for actionable data.

More than a decade ago, Mace helped a colleague at NIC develop NIC MAP. The online tool tracks data from more than 13,000 properties in 99 markets.

Reliable data can be a gold mine both to those seeking capital and those with money to invest, such as AEW Capital Management, where Mace spent 17 years. She recalls years before the internet when her colleagues would scour newspaper reports, find local phone books and make cold calls to build local data sets that could be rounded out with U.S. Census projections.

“This world has changed enormously,” says Mace, who grew up in the Buffalo, NY, area.

She has natural outlets to enjoy when things feel a little too, well, macro. 

She's been married for 33 years to her husband, John, and is the mother of two college-age sons, Jim, 22, and Jonathan, 19.

A big believer in the power of meditation, she is a labyrinth devotee.

She founded the Labyrinth Guild of New England, an organization that takes canvas labyrinths on the road to allow people to experience walking meditation.

“You're purging yourself and quieting your mind,” Mace explains. She's so ensconced in the topic, she has traveled to Chartres, France, several times to study a 13th century labyrinth. “You walk back out with new perspective.”

In 2014, Mace and Guild volunteers built a labyrinth at a women's prison in Massachusetts. They also work with hospitals, schools and churches.

Much as she's done winding within the senior housing community, Mace says she wants to help others see things more clearly.