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Empowering Change: Runstad’s Commitment to Diversity in Real Estate

The Runstad Advisory Board has developed several committees focused on supporting the Runstad Department of Real Estate’s students, faculty and programs. One of these committees, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, is dedicated to helping create a future where equity is embraced so that the real estate industry and built environment reflect the rich diversity of people in the community.  

This past academic year, the department and board members participated in some great events to help push the goal of moving the industry toward inclusion and equity. In February 2023, the Runstad Department of Real Estate and Foster School of Business held their annual symposium,Hacking Inequity in Access to Real Estate Capital: Best Practices and New Options”. This year the event was also co-sponsored by Urban@UW and Urban Land Institute. After the keynote’s address, attendees heard from two panels: one focused on the experiences of developers seeking capital, and the other on the experiences and advice of capital providers.  This year’s symposium was a follow up to the panel discussion on EDI in real estate capital investments that was held at the Autumn 2021 Runstad Advisory Board Meeting. 

Board member Brian Surratt, was a leading force in the Housing Equity Accelerator program (HEA) this past year. Local Initiatives Support Corporation (“LISC”) partnered with Amazon to increase the supply of affordable housing and support the growth of emerging developers of color in Puget Sound. This work can help build capacity to create more affordable units and forge opportunities to generate equity and inter-generational wealth. Many Runstad Advisory board members and Master of Science in Real Estate alumni volunteered their time and service. Jaebadiah Gardner (a fellow of the program), Peter Orser, Andrew Hunt, McKenzie Darr and Kristin Ryan served as Business Advisors, program advisors and expert panelists. Diane Sugimura served as program facilitator for the year long program with 13 graduates. 

Lastly, we want to thank George Northcroft for working with ULI to shape the February event, “10 Principles for Embedding Racial Equity in Real Estate Development,” and sharing the opportunity for our students to attend.  ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative published “10 Principles…” as a guide for developers, investors, and other practitioners in making racial equity an important part of their real estate practice. Taidgh H. McClory, one of the contributors to the report, presented the 10 principles, following George’s impassioned history of racial issues in the real estate industry.  George also moderated a “fireside chat” with Taidgh and Jaebadiah, before attendees broke into small groups to discuss the principles and their commitments to initiate change in their work.  

We are thankful and excited about the work that was accomplished this year by the EDI Committee, and sincerely thank the committee for their service. We look forward to more progress happening in the years to come.

Nicole DeNamur honored at Business of Pride

On June 8th, the Puget Sound Business Journal will celebrate LGBTQ+ business leaders at “Business of Pride: Outstanding Voices and LBGTQ+ Businesses. Among those honored is one of the department’s instructors, Nicole DeNamur.

Owner of Sustainable Strategies, a company that helps companies identify and manage risks centered around sustainable innovation, Nicole has been  speaking, writing, and teaching about sustainable spaces for nearly ten years. Before launching Sustainable Strategies, Nicole practiced construction and insurance coverage law in Seattle. Nicole has been an instructor in the Runstad Department since 2014, and teaches the course RE 459 Risk in Sustainable Development. Nicole’s course explores the intersection between sustainable practices and inclusive spaces.

Congratulations Nicole!

University of Guelph Undergraduate Real Estate Case Competition

Along with my teammates Ciara Joy Laney, Sun Choi, Ray Cui, and Jennifer Liu, I had the privilege of participating in the Undergraduate Real Estate Case Competition in Toronto, Canada hosted by the University of Guelph.

For the competition, my team and I were allotted a month to come up with a development proposal for a site located in Kitchener, Ontario. We would later present our development proposal in Toronto, Canada at the end of March. For our proposal, we researched many elements critical in real estate development projects such as the stakeholders involved and the Kitchener market. We also conducted a thorough analysis of the site accounting for topics such as zoning and variance. Additionally, our team produced a pro forma on our development plan to provide a compelling financial feasibility analysis. The month leading up to the competition involved countless team meetings, late night zoom calls, and hilarious moments when we were practicing our presentation delivery.

Overall, this was an experience I will cherish. It was truly a pleasure to not only work with my teammates, but also build friendships with them along the way. On top of gaining knowledge about the commercial real estate industry, I was able to refine other skills such as teamwork, public speaking, and time management through this opportunity. While in Toronto, I was also able to meet and network with industry professionals and university students from around the world that I still stay in touch with.

Thank you for this opportunity Runstad Department of Real Estate!

Hanson Dai, Class of 2024

International Alumni Student Panel

The University of Washington Real Estate Club held another successful event on April 5 in Gould Hall.  Organizer, Kevin Cao of Gemsdale, a frequent graduate student mentor, organized a diverse group of International MSRE graduates, who offered their unique perspectives and guidance on career exploration and networking. The panelists proved particularly adept at advising attendees on how to bridge cultural gaps with internal and external stakeholders, and blend into their future workplace. Moderator, Vivien Chim, kept the questions flowing and the students had numerous follow up questions as well.  This well attended event was peppered with current MSRE students,. undergraduates and recent alumni.  Before and after the panel, attendees had the opportunity to put their networking skills to use by engaging with the alumni. Food and beverages were provided by current Advisory Board president Shannon Underwood. Overall, this was an outstanding event that provided invaluable insights into the real estate industry and offered exceptional networking opportunities. We look forward to hosting more events like this in the future!

2023 CoreNet Global Academic Challenge

Yijia Chen, MSRE Class of 2023 shares her recent experience traveling to Singapore to compete in the CoreNet Global Academic Challenge 13

A team of four graduate students in a Master of Science in Real Estate program advanced to the final round of CoreNet Global Academic Challenge 13 (AC13) in Singapore competing against more than 30 student teams from universities around the world. The team was asked to play the role of an internal corporate real estate professional for a global home appliance manufacturer in the challenge and to develop future workplace strategies given the rise of the metaverse. Ultimately, the team decided to adopt the strategy of designing for a hybrid workplace where VR and AR technologies can be applied to deal with the current and anticipated challenges of a hybrid workplace faced by both manufacturing center workers and office workers.

The UW team competed with the New York University and the University of Malaya, Malaysia in the AC13 Competition. Even though the UW did not win the cup, the Singapore experience is invaluable. The team attended a variety of exhibits, networking luncheons, and informational events during the three days of the summit. The team also met corporate real estate professionals from across the globe – Australia, India, Malaysia, London, Philippines, and Japan, just to name a few. The opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from their experiences provides an excellent opportunity to broaden the team member’s horizons and allow them to bring fresh perspectives into the Spring quarter classrooms.

A sincere thank you to Sofia, Skylar, Sakriti, Josh and other professionals from the CoreNet Washington Chapter for all of your support and guidance.

Ciara Joy Laney, Class of 2024

This month, cultures worldwide recognize and celebrate women’s accomplishments. In what ways, if any, has recognizing these celebrated accomplishments of women in Real Estate impacted you as a woman entering that same career field?

Celebrating the accomplishments of women in Real Estate has had a significant impact on me because representation matters. As the saying goes, “If she can see it, she can be it.” As someone interested in real estate development, it’s inspiring to attend speaker panels and see women taking their rightful place at the table. 

What prompted you to declare Real Estate as a major, and what have been some of your highlights as a student of the major?

I chose to major in Real Estate because it provides a platform for me to utilize my skills and passions in areas such as creativity, business finance, and communication. As a student, some of my highlights include serving as a Communication Manager for the Real Estate Club and representing the student body on the College of Built Environments Diversity Council. I will also be competing in Toronto, CA for my first real estate development competition at the end of this month!

Commercial Real Estate has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. How are women in today’s society working to change that narrative?

Women in today’s society are reshaping the narrative by supporting and advocating for each other. Organizations such as CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) are excellent examples of groups that aid and encourage female professionals.

In the area of real estate, why is mentorship important to women?

Mentorship is particularly vital for women in the real estate industry as it is historically male-dominated. It can be discouraging when one’s gender results in not being taken seriously. In an industry with such highs and lows, having a mentor can assist women in navigating these challenges.

How can we empower young women interested in real estate careers?

We can empower young women interested in real estate careers by addressing gender bias, educating ourselves, and celebrating successful women in the industry as role models. Small and consistent steps lead to big change. Progress is progress, no matter how small. 

Zeynep Akman, Class of 2025

Recognizing the hard work and dedication of women in real estate has definitely empowered me to step into a leadership role in this sector, even though there’s a high barrier to entry (but see presently). It’s also a great opportunity to learn from their work ethic and make note of attributes that helped them be successful in their careers.

2023 NAIOP Challenge

This week a team of graduate and undergraduate real estate students presented their proposal to a panel of judges at the annual NAIOP Real Estate Challenge, a development case competition in which teams from the University of Washington, University of British Columbia, and Portland State University real estate programs compete. Students create an investment proposal for a well-located development site. This year the site was in our own back yard, the Sound Transit owned site in the University District, where a tiny home village is  currently located. The UW proposal was heavily focused on affordable housing financing including low-income housing tax credits. This was a big challenge and a great learning opportunity for the students. Several industry experts were brought in to help the students with tax credit financing, land use code for high rise development in Seattle and other design challenges for this visible and important site.

The UW had a strong team for the competition.  Although they did not take home the Bob Filley cup this year, the real world experience creating a development project from the ground up is invaluable.

A sincere thank you to Al Levine and Hal Ferris, our faculty and industry sponsors for all the time you devoted to helping the students.

NAIOP Team 2023

2023 NAIOP Challenge UW Team

Ye Won Carey Jang, MUP ‘2023
Vivien Chim, MSRE ‘2023
Sam Jarvis, B.S. Real Estate ‘2023
Aarie Liebreich, MSRE ‘2023
Morse Lin, MSRE ‘2023
Jennifer Liu, B.S. Real Estate ‘2023
Tianyi Liu, MUP 2023
Jacob Melaragno, MUP 2023
Maren Grunnet, MUP 2023
Sam Shadkhast, MSRE ‘2024
Amy Towillis, MSRE ‘2023