Debra A. Cafaro is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Ventas, Inc., an S&P 500 company operating at the intersection of healthcare and real estate. Ventas owns over 1,200 properties serving a large and growing aging demographic.
A recognized industry leader, Cafaro set and oversaw execution of a long-term strategy that drove Ventas’s market capitalization to $28 billion in 2019, from $200 million since her leadership began in 1999. The Company’s compound annual total shareholder return (TSR) has exceeded 19 percent for the 23 years ended December 31, 2021.
Widely-acclaimed for her strategic vision and enduring business success, Cafaro has received multiple professional recognitions. Cafaro has been twice named one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women (Forbes Magazine), a list of global political, media, entertainment and business leaders; a Top 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World for six consecutive years (Harvard Business Review); and the top female executive in the commercial real estate industry (National Real Estate Investor). She has also been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare six times (Modern Healthcare); highlighted in The 70 Elite real estate executives who shaped the industry for the past 70 years (Real Estate Forum); and selected multiple times to the Top 25 Women in Healthcare (Modern Healthcare) and the All-America Executive Team (Institutional Investor). Cafaro was named a Top 50 Woman in World Business (Financial Times), one of the Bankable 21 CEOs in Jim Cramer’s book Get Rich Carefully and one of nine Game-Changers in commercial real estate since 2000 (GlobeSt.com). To honor her contributions, she has received the Order of Lincoln, Illinois’ highest honor for professional achievement and public service, the Visionary Award for Strategic Leadership from Women Corporate Directors, the only global membership organization of women corporate directors, and the Industry Leadership Award from Nareit.
In addition to her work at Ventas, Cafaro is broadly engaged across business, public policy, academic, sports and non-profit sectors. Cafaro is a past Chair of the Real Estate Roundtable, a public policy organization that brings together leaders of the nation’s top real estate firms on key national policy issues, Nareit, the worldwide voice for listed real estate companies, and the Economic Club of Chicago. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Business Council, and serves on the Boards of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC), the University of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She is an Advisory Board Member of the Harvard Kennedy School Taubman Center for State and Local Government. She served successive terms on the Board of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. Cafaro is a partner of the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins.
Cafaro established the Cafaro Scholars program at the University of Chicago Law School. It provides full scholarships to students with outstanding potential whose parents did not attend college. Over 20 students, many of them diverse, have been recipients of the Cafaro scholarships.
Prior to joining Ventas, Cafaro was President of an NYSE-listed apartment company, a practicing lawyer and a U.S. Court of Appeals judicial clerk. She received her J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was named its 2011 Distinguished Alumna, and her B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame. She is married and has two children.