(L – R) Ken McIntyre, Interim Executive Director, Project REAP; REAP founder, Mike Bush; Associate Program Director, REAP, Osayamen Bartholomew; G. Lamont Blackstone, REAP board chair.
“What other educational program brings these extraordinary organizations together for an unparalleled opportunity to network, learn and find your own niche in commercial real estate?” asked G. Lamont Blackstone, board chair of Project REAP (Real Estate Associate Program), addressing a rapt crowd at REAP's Trade Night and Networking Reception held Oct. 30, in New York City.
Founded 20 years ago, REAP is a national educational initiative dedicated to increasing diversity in commercial real estate (CRE) through a multi-layered program of education, mentorship and networking for individuals who have already achieved professional success. The annual event gives current students a chance to network with REAP alumni and representatives from major industry trade associations. JP Morgan Chase & Co., one of REAP's corporate sponsors, hosted the evening at a JPMC midtown Manhattan office.
Associate program director Osayamen Bartholomew said, “Tonight we are seeing REAP's goals and vision put into action.”
REAP's founder, Mike Bush, told the audience that real estate success relies on “networking, networking, networking.” Following the presentations, he added, “The industry needs talent…REAP introduces talent to opportunity.”
Association leaders provided valuable information and insights.
Rosemary Subasic, membership committee chair of BOMA, director of facilities management, Hines aaf Morgan Stanley, discussed avenues of professional development through certifications and courses and the advocacy and support that BOMA offers.
Jolie Milstein, president and CEO, and Richard Roberts, executive vice board chair, NYSAFAH (NYS Assn. for Affordable Housing), outlined the lobbying, education and training, and networking benefits. Roberts spoke of the focus on WMBE industries and the “emphasis on comprehensive neighborhood development that is cognizant of services that make a community complete.”
Tiffany Greenidge, NAIOP secretary and marketing account executive Empire Realty Trust, and Rick Lechtman, president-elect, NAIOP (Commercial Real Estate Development Association), and first VP, Marcus & Millichap, spoke of the organization's inclusionary focus and its diversity initiative. NAIOP provides career and professional development, advocacy and research beneficial to the CRE industry.
Felix Ciampa, executive director of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) New York, encouraged all to participate in such programs as Real Estate Outlook, Reinventing Retail, Young Leaders, Mentorship (for persons under 40), Technical Assistance Panels (TAPs) as well as councils in housing, infrastructure and mixed use.
Jazmen Johnson, manager, Partners in Diversity, and Stephen Taylor, director, volunteer services, ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers), discussed scholarships, mentorship, education and advocacy. Said Taylor, “ICSC…creates relationships outside of dealmaking.”
Sheena Gohil, membership chair of CoreNet Global, and senior managing director, Colliers, said that the organization is the voice for the corporate real estate individual and that members include “the entire spectrum of real estate professionals.”
The event met with unanimous kudos.
REAP NYC alum Min Chan, Esq., founder and CEO of SkyView, EB-5 regional center, credits REAP with helping her “focus and pursue the real estate side of the business.”
Elizabeth Martin, president of E.L. Martin Partners, LLC, a real estate broker and a REAP founding advisory board member said, “As our country becomes more diverse…the CRE industry [needs] to …reflect it.”
Current NYC REAP students (REAP rotates classes at major cities throughout the nation) applauded the event.
Allan Suarez, COO of All Renovation Construction LLC and CEO and co-founder, Newark Foundry, said, “It really helps introduce [us] to organizations … that can expand our horizons.”
Brie Bythewood, vice president/partner with La Cite Development, called the night the “best opportunity for REAP candidates to connect with our trade association partners and to access the networking.”
Kadaicia-Loi Dunkley, GWIM analyst at Bank of America, N.A., said, “This helps me envision where to see my future in real estate.”
Alcide King, a seventh-year associate with Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, said, “Networking is part of the secret sauce.”
Desiree Thomas, a financial professional with Archimedes Alpha, called it “phenomenal” for offering an occasion to meet the movers and shakers “instrumental to the progress of diversity in commercial real estate.”
JPMC vice president corporate finance Daniel Chatters, and NYC alum Gardner Rivera, owner of Paper City Real Estate, were instrumental in establishing the partnership between REAP and JPMC. Rivera said, “This is some of the magic that happened” and Chatters cheered REAP for offering “not just textbook, but real world opportunities.”
Jocelyn Moore, senior VP public policy and government affairs with NFL who commutes from DC for the classes, summed up the evening's value, saying, “It's not who you know, it's what you do with who you know.”