Editor’s note: As part of the 40th anniversary of McKnight’s, McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News are recognizing 40 notable newsmakers. Each week, the brands will highlight a new, high-profile leader from the past four decades. Previously published installments of the series are posted here.

When Patricia Will co-founded Belmont Village Senior Living in 1997, the goal was never to be the biggest in the industry — it was to be the best. 

The senior living developer and operator now boasts 31 communities in seven states and one in Mexico, serving a total of more than 4,000 residents and 4,000 caregivers. 

Will earned an MBA from Harvard and worked in real estate, specializing as a developer for medical properties, for more than 15 years before developing Belmont Village. It was after her mother-in-law received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease that she realized the senior living industry was missing something — communities that merge architecture, hospitality and quality care. 

“My partners and I learned all that we could, not just about dementia, but about all of the conditions that accompany aging,” Will explained. “We wanted to create a place that would foster a sense of independence in each of our residents, no matter where they were in life. A place where getting older wasn’t the end of the road.”  

Will has served as an instrumental figure in the company’s success and in helping to evolve the senior living industry into what it is today. 

She has served on several industry boards and is active in many organizations, including the American Seniors Housing Association and the California Assisted Living Association. Belmont also continuously has been recognized for being at the forefront of implementing innovative programs at its communities. 

Just last year, one of Belmont’s communities was recognized by Argentum with a 2019 Senior Living by Design award, which honors architects, design firms and senior living providers. The company also was also listed on the Best Workplaces for Aging Services lists in 2019 and 2018.

“We want our associates to build their careers with us for the long term, and we put a high priority on fostering job satisfaction and creating substantive growth opportunities. For this recognition to come from our own employees is especially meaningful,” Will said upon receiving the honor.