Real Estate Development students bring a wide array of talents, experiences and backgrounds to the program. Below is just a sampling of students who have taken advantage of the program's offerings.
Ameenah Williams relocated from Florida to Maryland. She has a Bachelors in Interior Design and a Masters in Architecture. She is an active, member of AAREP (African American Real Estate Professionals), ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers), APX (Alpha Rho Chi – National Fraternity of Architecture and Allied Arts), and a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Currently Ameenah is working for The Peterson Companies coordinating Downtown Silver Spring, the Washingtonian in Gaithersburg, MD, and the Milestone in Germantown, MD. During the week, she handles everything from tenant relations, problem solving, billing, and placing work orders. Her goal in pursuing a Master of Real Estate Development is to gain a better understanding of the financial aspect of running a lifestyle center such as Downtown Silver Spring, or The Washingtonian Center. Ameenah says, "the MRED classes, definitely will help to enhance my understanding of my project's budget reports. I must really thank Professor Gomez, who helped me get the concepts of net operating income(NOI), cash flows, income and expenses, down; also kudos to my finance professors Mike Daugard and Jud Ryan now that CAM and lease assumptions are no longer foreign!".
Tatiana Nelson-Joseph is a current MRED student. She is taking classes part-time and hopes to graduate in 2 years. Tatiana is a native of Washington D.C. but spent a few years in New York City, where she earned an Associate Degree in Accessories Design from The Fashion Institute of Technology. Tatiana earned her Bachelor's degree in business from the George Washington University in 2001, and a Masters of Fine Art in Sculpture from Howard University in 2004. Tatiana has worked as a Transaction Analyst at a local utility company and taught art classes at a local college. Having once taught graphic and interior design, Tatiana looks to develop a career that "marries my interests in business and design, while making a difference in the community." She says the reputation of the MRED program brought her to the University of Maryland. Her future goal is to become a successful real estate developer and focus on the mid-atlantic region.
John Hersey, current student, grew up in Beverly, MA and until recently had never lived west of the Connecticut River. He received a B.A. in sustainable urban planning and an Master if Regional Planning from University of Massachusetts - Amherst in 2005 and 2007, respectively. John has worked in sustainable transportation planning for four years and now has experience in creating healthy, equitable, convenient, and attractive places. John believes, "transportation is at the heart of economic development, which underpins much of planning.” His goal at the Colvin Institute is to learn more about the financial mechanisms available and techniques used to build communities today in order to improve our built environment tomorrow. John values the interdisciplinary nature of the MRED program and the school's reputation. He says, "Eventually, I humbly came around to how little I knew about real estate and how important it is to not just referee the game (i.e., planning) but to actually play it (i.e. development)."
Aquene Hernandez is a full-time student MRED student. She was born and raised in North Carolina and currently lives in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington D.C. She received her Bachelors in Psychology from North Carolina State University. She initially became interested in Real Estate development after spending some post-graduation time living in Baltimore. She relocated back to North Carolina when a friend recommended at a marketing position in an engineering firm. But even after two years, a promotion into management, and a realtor's license in North Carolina, Aquene was still not satisfied with her peripheral position in development. Aquene then decided to return to school and get a Master's degree. She decided on real estate development at the University of Maryland because all the instructors are current practitioners, and the program is very well rounded. She considered other programs, that seemed limited to the finance aspects and Aquene wanted a full look at all aspects of development.
Anthony Notarfrancesco plans to graduate in the spring of 2014. He studied Community and Regional Planning with a minor in Business at Temple University. Notarfrancesco is currently a Congressional Intern for Congressman Robert Brady, 1st District of Pennsylvania. As an intern, he is responsible for writing letters of support for Philadelphia community associations that apply for federal neighborhood improvement grants.
Anthony's interest in real estate development started during his planning studies where he got a chance to see development from a public policy prospective. However, he says "What was most striking to me was that planners are generally at the mercy of what developers want to build, whether responsible or not. So I decided that I could take what I learned in planning and apply it to real estate development."
Notarfrancesco chose to study at the University of Maryland because he considers the D.C. region an "interesting and dynamic region". He plans to study how to successfully integrate new sustainable developments in distressed neighborhoods without losing their existing character. After graduation, Notarfrancesco hopes to work for a small development company before starting his own company. He says, "I think the most important aspects of the MRED Program are getting the chance to meet professionals, as well as interacting with students in the program that have similar career goals as mine".
Elena Sylos-Labini was hired as a Director of Development at Aimco, one of the largest owner-operators of apartment communities in the United States. In her new role, she coordinates all aspects of Aimco’s redevelopment projects in the Washington, D.C., portfolio, and acts as a liaison between architects and the construction team. Elena’s day-to-day management activities incorporate several skills acquired in the MRED program, including design revision and pro forma modeling. “Aimco is a wonderful company to work for because they are dedicated to ensuring that every aspect of their business is run with integrity, and they take pride in creating happy and safe communities for people to live in. It is a phenomenal environment in which to continue learning and working in development.” Elena joined the firm thanks to the efforts of a recruiter in Aimco’s Denver office, who found Elena on LinkedIn—a great networking lesson for all upcoming graduates to keep their profiles up to date and specific to their interests.
Timothy Phillips is an MRED graduate who is currently the land acquisition manager for Bozzuto Land Company. He is primarily responsible for finding opportunities for Bozzuto's home building and apartment development subsidiaries.
Michael Montemuro is a new Financial Analyst in the Investment Services Division of SSH Real Estate, one of the largest commercial real estate companies in the Greater Philadelphia region. Aside from his MRED degree. Prior to joining SSH, Montemuro completed internships at The Eisen Group in Washington, D.C. where he conducted financial and market analysis, and at Hearthside Realtors, a Coldwell Banker Commercial affiliate in Richboro, Pennsylvania."We are delighted to add Michael's expertise to our growing Investment Services division," said SSH Partner Peter Soens. "Michael's analytical skills will help bolster our underwriting capabilities to help better serve our clients." With offices in Center City Philadelphia and Radnor, SSH Real Estate has grown from its roots as the Harold B. Hess Company in 1952 to become one of the largest privately held commercial real estate companies the Greater Philadelphia region.
August 2012 MRED graduate Jeremy Hoffman is pursing his career in affordable housing development in New York City. Jeremy is a project manager in the preservation finance division of New York City Housing Preservation and Development (NYC HPD). Jeremy speaks highly of the knowledge he gained while in the MRED program, and attributes his current employment in large part to the caliber of the professors and classes offered. Jeremy found especially high value in the Capstone seminar. The experience of creating a development proposal from site selection and market analysis through financing and underwriting gave Jeremy a competitive edge in his employment search. To current and future students, Jeremy advises to maintain and nurture the professional and peer relationships made while in the program. These connections are invaluable in landing a first job as well as building a lasting reputation in the field.
Devin Gerhart MRED ’13, Before entering the program in fall 2011, Devin was a Property Manager for Rosenberg & Freeman Inc., managing a residential portfolio in the Washington D.C. area. In the summer of 2012 Devin worked as an intern for the Neighborhood Development Company in Washington D.C. where he completed financial analyses for potential development projects. Currently Devin works for JBG Rosenfeld Retail as a Property Manager for a mixed-use portfolio in the greater Washington D.C. area. He is responsible for maintaining his properties to the highest standards on a daily basis and insuring they uphold the JBG Rosenfeld reputation. Devin was a member of the NAIOP Capital Challenge Team 2012, which proposed a ground up mixed-use development in the NoMa submarket of the District of Columbia. Devin says, "if I can recommend anything to someone in the MRED program it's to take advantage of the competitions. You will be thrown into a team environment and apply all that we have learned in the program to something that really and truly simulates how development projects start today. Hands down, NAIOP was the best experience I've had in the program.”
December 2011 MRED graduate, John Sheff, attended the University of Wisconsin (UW) where he earned his BA in English Literature. He he lived in Manhattan for some years working as an advertising executive prior to moving back home to Baltimore to change careers. In 2008 John started working in the office of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley analyzing programs related to smart growth, bay restoration, energy and CO2 emissions. John said he had always been interested in regional economic development and sustainability, and ultimately decided that the Maryland real estate program gave him the breadth and depth of education he was looking for. "The MRED program at UMD is unique because of its holistic approach to real estate education." John said. "I was able to easily incorporate my public sector experience in several aspects of sustainability into my studies in MRED because the program touched on all of these issues. The MRED program helped me to successfully transition to an exciting career in sustainable real estate development".
Matthew Ritz MRED ’11, took an undergraduate degree was in political science, but had always had am interest in real estate development. He worked in property management, construction, and development prior to, and during his time in the real estate program. Matt is currently a vice president of development at WC Smith and Company in Washington DC. Matt says that the real estate development program provided him with the knowledge he needed to be able to "take a piece of dirt and make it into a sustainable, profitable project which is financially feasible". Matthew also found that involvement with real estate organizations, building one's network and absorbing information from real estate leaders is extremely valuable in this profession.
Christopher Murray, MRED ’09, is Vice President and Principal of Mid-Atlantic Properties, Inc. In his position with Mid-Atlantic Properties, Chris oversees all office and retail leasing for the company, as well as leading the asset management and redevelopment efforts.