Bringing Passion and Skill to Community Development
Genevieve is a native Seattleite who recognized early on how powerfully the built environment shapes social communities, including impacts on health outcomes, equitable access to economic opportunity, environmental sustainability and livability. She designed her own major at Colorado College in Urban and Community Development and then came home to undertake dual Masters’ degrees in Urban Planning and Real Estate at UW. Through the Runstad Department, she obtained 3 (!) internship positions in the affordable housing/community development field at Bellwether Housing, Enterprise Foundation and Beneficial State Bank.
All of these experiences convinced her that passion alone is not enough to make a difference. She says, “I did the MSRE program to understand how decisions are made by the people who are writing the checks. To make an impact, you have to speak their language.” To that end, learning pro forma modeling skills and understanding all the parts of the complex project development process has been essential to her success. The Runstad network was also wind beneath her wings – “I never had to cold call anyone!”
Genevieve’s first job after graduation was at SOJ, an owner’s rep firm working mostly on civic and non-profit projects. Genevieve focused on the Seattle waterfront, working on projects associated with the replacement of the Highway 99 viaduct, and also on the Seattle Opera facility expansion and Lake Forest Park town center. She is now a project manager at GMD Development, a for-profit affordable housing developer. The MSRE Affordable Housing course and participating in the Bank of America Affordable Housing Challenge competition provided important preparation for this role. Genevieve does everything from feasibility modeling, obtaining permits, preparing tax credit applications, and managing construction before handing a project off to third party property managers. At present she is working on projects in Seattle’s Belltown, Othello and Fremont neighborhoods. She finds this work very gratifying – one must be as nimble as a market rate developer and generate returns to capital while remaining true to the mission of delivering affordable housing to the community. Precisely what she set out to do all those years ago.