Press Release

Real Estate Board of New York Celebrates Diverse Group of Rising Stars for Completing Inaugural Fellowship Program Focused on Fostering a More Inclusive Real Estate Industry


March 3, 2021

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In partnership with Coro New York Leadership Center, REBNY Fellows Program is creating and cultivating a pipeline for more diverse talent to drive the next generation of the industry

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the City’s leading real estate trade association, in collaboration with the Coro New York Leadership Center, the City’s premier civic leadership training program, is celebrating the graduation of the inaugural cohort of the REBNY Fellows, a first-of-its-kind leadership program for young real estate professionals of diverse backgrounds.

The 19 inaugural REBNY Fellows graduates were honored last night at a virtual graduation ceremony that featured remarks by REBNY President James Whelan, Former REBNY Chairman Bill Rudin and Coro Senior Director Garrett Lucien, as well as a keynote speech by Melissa Román Burch, Executive General Manager, New York Development for Lendlease and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Coro New York Leadership Center.

“REBNY is committed to fostering a more inclusive real estate industry and recognizes that creating a strong pipeline for diverse talent is key to achieving that crucial goal,” said REBNY President James Whelan. “I am proud to congratulate all of the bright young women and men who completed the inaugural REBNY Fellows program and I know they are already on their way to building extraordinary careers that will help guide the next generation of our industry.”

“This first-of-its-kind leadership program is set to be the driving force behind the future of New York real estate, and it has been an honor to help offer this City’s diverse rising stars the network and strategies they need for continued growth in their careers,” said Melissa Román Burch, Executive General Manager, New York Development for Lendlease and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Coro New York Leadership Center. “Congratulations to all the graduating fellows.”

The REBNY Fellows Program taps rising real estate leaders from diverse backgrounds for a high-impact, six-month training program focused on further developing the leadership skills needed to solve complex challenges, assess multiple perspectives and collaborate effectively. The program provides networking opportunities along with advocacy and civic leadership training. Participants walk away with additional knowledge and skills and a lifelong professional network that will provide a roadmap to continued success in the real estate industry. All programming for the first REBNY Fellows cohort was held virtually to ensure safety in line with best practices regarding COVID-19.

The program was conceived and launched last year based on an overarching initiative led by Former REBNY Chairman Bill Rudin and REBNY’s Diversity Committee, which works to create professional opportunities and improve and promote the diversity of the trade association’s membership and the real estate industry at large.

The inaugural class of the REBNY Fellows Program includes:

  • Alexis McGuffin, vice president, business development, Suffolk Construction

  • Ali Siby, director - fund management, Hines

  • Angela D’Aguanno, chief operating officer - NY Tri-state, Cushman & Wakefield

  • Christie Chen, associate director - investments, Oxford Properties Group

  • Cindy True, director - US investments, Madison International Realty

  • Dennis Ovalle, senior vice president, Related Management Company

  • DeVon Prioleau, director, MACRO, A Savills Company

  • Erin Cannata, managing director, Northwood Investors

  • Hayley Shoener, vice president - leasing, Brookfield Investors

  • Henry Fuentes, senior associate - investment sales, Marcus & Millichap

  • Jaiye Falusi, director, Tishman Speyer

  • Johanna Clark-Wendt, marketing director, CBRE

  • Maibi Rojas, project manager, CBRE

  • Marie Toucet, director, CBRE

  • Martha Torres, assistant property manager, The Durst Organization

  • Meagan Chiappetta, senior real estate analyst, Edison Properties

  • Natisha Thomas, residential operations manager, Rudin Management Company

  • Rene Hamilton, assistant vice president, Helmsley Spear

  • Susannah Shaw, senior project manager- development, Boston Properties

REBNY is actively working to advance efforts that help attract, retain and advance women, people of color, and others from diverse backgrounds in the real estate industry. The organization’s REBNY Fellows Program aims to foster a more diverse and inclusive real estate industry by creating and cultivating a pipeline for rising leaders of diverse background within the industry. On the collegiate level, REBNY has collaborated with the City University of New York to assemble informative career panels focused on the pathways to leadership roles in real estate. REBNY also launched a new internship program in 2019, in coordination with Ladders for Leaders – an initiative of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), supported by the NYC Center for Youth Employment and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City – which placed over 50 young adults in paid summer internships at leading real estate firms. Additionally, REBNY partners with Building Skills NY to connect underemployed New Yorkers with jobs and training to create new career pathways into the construction industry, a partnership that has resulted in placing approximately 1,200 individuals from diverse backgrounds since 2016.

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