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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.

Seattle’s Chinatown/International District: A Personal Reflection by Diane Sugimura

As I think about Lunar New Year 2023, I am in awe of and thankful for the early Asian pioneers who not only faced the difficulties of settling and surviving in an unknown environment, they faced racism, displacement and physical harm.  But through this they persevered, creating a rich, cultural community that thrived and survived — though still very fragile — in spite of challenges from outside forces. 

New Chair of the Runstad Advisory Board: Shannon Underwood

Shannon Underwood has been a member of the Runstad Advisory Board since 2014. She served on the Academic Committee, the Hiring Committee, and as chair of the Student Experience Committee before becoming Chair. She recognizes her good fortune in working with the distinguished real estate thought leaders on the Board who share her commitment to the next generation of real estate leaders.

The buzz is out about the upcoming minor in real estate

Jill Wood, Co-President of Windermere Real Estate and Runstad Center Advisory Board member, was recently quoted in a story about the new real estate minor.  Read the full article here Two undergraduate courses will launch spring quarter: RE 400 Real Estate Accounting and RE 360 Intro to Real Estate Market Analysis.  Please contact for more information about registering.

The mall experience, still surviving in Seattle

Runstad Advisory Board member Kemper Freeman was recently quoted in a Seattle Times article about the evolution of the Bellevue Collection, read the full story about the ongoing challenges and successes of retail in our city here



3rd Annual Runstad Center Leadership Dinner

The 2016 Runstad Center Leadership Dinner brought the Seattle real estate industry together in a memorable evening celebrating the many successes of the Runstad Center. We honored George Rolfe, beloved professor of many students and alumni, celebrating his retirement with a collection of selfies and George-isms. Peter Orser announced the establishment of an alumni fund, led by five Runstad alumni who recognize the importance of the Runstad Center program in creating future real estate leaders. The keynote speaker, Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, gave an energizing talk that focused on our established history of innovation, pressing issues that Seattle is currently facing, and provided thoughtful suggestions about how the real estate community could implement long term solutions.

“The night was also a huge success for the Runstad Center, raising over $200,000 for Runstad Center operations, which will provide for our student programs and additional scholarships. Thank you to everyone who attended and supported the 2016 Runstad Center Leadership Dinner!!” -Peter Orser

Here are some photos from the evening, you can see even more here

Why the Runstad Center matters

On October 13th The Runstad Center held its 3rd Annual Leadership Dinner where we introduced our newest video describing “Why the Runstad Center matters!”  It’s a great overview of the Center’s people and programs and definitely a must see if you are interested in an advanced degree in real estate.  Check out the full video here

Creating liveable communties: a conversation with architect David Yuan

David YuanNBBJ, a leading global architecture firm, is well known locally for its work on familiar Seattle buildings, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Safeco Field, and 2 Union Square. David Yuan is an Architect and Partner at NBBJ and has been a Runstad Board member since 2013. During his 26 year tenure at NBBJ, he has worked on a number of high profile projects, including Madison Centre, Russell Investments Center, Pacific Place, and the renovation of the Seaboard Building.

One of his recent projects, three new blocks for Amazon in the Denny Triangle, has garnered significant attention in recent press. Yuan worked with the NBBJ team on the design and to secure land use approvals for the three block project, which included obtaining three alley vacations from the city in less than a year.

“One of the main drivers of the project is to create a  neighborhood,” Yuan emphasizes, “and to promote an active street environment, encouraging  pedestrian  activity through public amenities such as mid-block pedestrian connections, a dog park and a sports field.”

At the lower levels in each office tower, NBBJ has designed what they term “Centers of Energy”, spaces that foster informal meetings and increased collaboration among Amazon employees.

Of course, all eyes are on the Spheres, three iconic structures inspired by classic greenhouses that provide employees an opportunity hold meetings in a plant rich environment, complete with tree houses. “We wanted to create an environment where employees could think creatively and come up with ideas they may not have had in a standard workstation. The Spheres were technically challenging and designed not only to accommodate a diversity of plants, but to function as an effective place to meet during the day.”

NBBJ endeavors to design vibrant places that entice people to be creative, engage with each other and with their surroundings, a goal that Yuan continues to champion in his other current projects, including the 36-story Madison Center in downtown Seattle, and Centre 425, a 16 story office building in Bellevue both under construction.

As a Board member, Yuan stresses the host of opportunities offered by the Runstad Center. “Make sure you are well attuned to your own passions, interests, and skills,” he recommends, “and make use of the affiliated resources, including the great alumni and the industry connections.”

Acknowledging Seattle’s growth in recent years, he recognizes the need for all parties to coalesce and build the city together. “Seattle has been blessed as a destination for creative people. Because we are open to new comers and are located in a wonderful natural environment, we attract innovative companies who look to recruit the brightest and the best as a result,” Yuan says. “However, we are experiencing growing pains, affordability issues, and are heavily constrained by physical challenges like hills and water. So the question is, how do you design for growth? How do you create community that is connected to transit, has open space, and are highly liveable while accommodating higher densities? An answer must be found by neighborhood leaders, developers and policy makers working together to find creative solutions for the future.