The Leadership Team Needs YOU!!
CREC is looking for leaders (and those who would like to grow into leaders) to join our Leadership Team. We are reaching out to alumni of Cornell University who work in the very broadly defined ‘real estate industry’ and to current students studying real estate or related fields, to encourage your involvement.
Just as Cornell was founded on a mission of diversity, so too are we focused on building a leadership team with diverse points of view, and varying degrees of experience and seniority. We would like to re-engage those who have volunteered in the past, and attract new leaders, including those who are in the early stages of their careers.
The current CREC Leadership Team includes a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board which oversees the following subcommittees: Development & Fundraising, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Marketing & Membership, Programming & Conferences and University Relations.
Board of Directors
Born and raised in the Northwest United States, Spencer Burton has 20+ years of residential and commercial real estate experience. Over his career, Spencer has helped close $4.5 billion and underwrite $30 billion of commercial real estate at some of the largest institutional real estate firms in the world. He is currently the Head of Real Estate Investments and member of the founding team at Stablewood Properties. Spencer Burton holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs with an emphasis in economics from Florida State University and a Masters in Real Estate with a concentration in finance from Cornell University.
Jen Davis serves as Co-Head of Investor Relations for Northwood Investors, a vertically-integrated real estate private equity firm. Jen is responsible for expanding Northwood’s investor relations and new business initiatives. Prior to joining Northwood Investors, Jen worked in the Real Estate, Leisure & Lodging Investment Banking group at UBS where she focused on corporate advisory assignments, capital markets transactions and mergers and acquisitions. Jen received a B.S. and minor in Real Estate from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
Lynn Zuckerman Gray is the Founder and CEO of Campus Scout, LLC, an innovative provider of strategic campus and recent graduate recruiting services, Career Coaching for young professionals and bespoke training programs for employers, primarily focused on the Millennial and Z generations. Since its inception in mid-2009, Campus Scout has recruited at 101 Graduate and Undergraduate campuses throughout the United States and has successfully assisted in the hiring of recent college and Business/professional School graduates for foreign and domestic clients in the financial services, real estate, technology and hospitality industries.
Lynn has a long history in financial services, the Law and the academic world. Prior to founding Campus Scout, she was a banker and lender focused on the origination of corporate sale/leaseback and commercial real estate transactions in the aggregate of more than $10 billion. From 1997 to 2008 she was with Lehman Brothers/Barclays, where she served as the Real Estate Group’s Global Chief Administrative Officer and as an originator of debt and equity transactions.
A graduate of Tufts University and the Cornell University Law School, Ms. Gray serves on the Advisory Board of the Cornell Baker Graduate Program in Real Estate and is an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business where she has taught Leadership and Real Estate Finance. She also is a Certified Facilitator for the SUNY Levin Global Center’s FastTrac New Venture and FastTrac Growth Venture Entrepreneurship training programs. Recently she was named to the 2017 class of WE NYC Mentors sponsored by the New York City Small Business Administration. She has written and been a featured speaker extensively on talent management, entrepreneurship and real estate topics.
Ms. Gray and Campus Scout have been highlighted often in domestic and foreign media (NY Times; Wall Street Journal; The Financial Times; More Magazine; Crain’s New York; Time Out New York; CNBC.com; CNNMoney.com; US News and World Report; Huffington Post; More Magazine; Crain’s New York; TVE Television of Spain; TF1 French Television; CBC Canadian Radio; Japanese Public Television; Dagens Naeringsliv (Norwegian Financial Newspaper); and Sankei Shimbun (Japanese Newspaper)).
Alan Riffkin is the Managing Member of AFR Capital Advisory, a strategic advisor to real estate owners and operators. Mr. Riffkin is a member of the Board of Directors of Resource REIT since August 2021. From 2003 to 2020, he was a Managing Director of the Real Estate Investment Banking Group at Lazard. From 1994 to 2003, he held positions in the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs. Prior to that, Mr. Riffkin held positions at Citicorp in the Real Estate Division from 1988 to 1992. Mr. Riffkin serves as a Trustee of the Urban Land Institute since 2017. He received a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University and a Master of Business Administration from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Paul Rubacha for nearly thirty-five years has participated as a guest lecturer and panelist for various real estate courses at Cornell.
Paul is Chairman of the Baker Real Estate Advisory Board and previously as Co-Chair of the Real Estate Subcommittee of the University’s Investment Committee. He has actively served with the College of Architecture Advisory Board for over a decade.
Paul is a Co-Founder and Principal at privately held Ashley Capital. He has primary responsibility for financing and capital transactions. Paul supervises a professional staff located in four cities and oversees all facets of acquisition, development and management of Ashley’s twenty five million square foot portfolio.
Prior to co-founding Ashley capital, Paul served in senior capacities within the Real Estate Departments of Goldman Sachs, Citibank and Prudential Insurance Company, He holds both an undergraduate degree and MBA from Cornell University. Paul has been a real estate lecturer at several universities and served as a panelist for various organizations including the Urban Land Institute, the U.S Department of Transportation and Institutional Investor Magazine, he has been awarded the distinction of Counselor of Real Estate.
David Rupert is President of Griffin Capital Company, a privately-held, Los Angeles-headquartered alternative investment asset manager with approximately $11 billion in assets under management. Griffin manages, sponsors or co-sponsors a platform of six institutional-quality investment solutions distributed by the firm’s captive broker dealer, Griffin Capital Securities, to retail investors through a community of partners, including independent and insurance broker-dealers, wirehouses, RIA firms and the financial advisors who work for those enterprises. Mr. Rupert is a member of the investment committee and an officer of most of the firm’s products.
David’s 36 years of commercial real estate and finance experience includes over $10 billion of transaction volume on four continents; his career began in the early 1980’s at Chemical Bank (now JP Morgan) in the credit analysis, loan workout and commercial lending areas, and continued at investment banking firm Salomon Brothers (now Citi), where for a decade he was a senior member of the real estate finance department. Between 2008 and 2010 Mr. Rupert co-headed an opportunistic hotel fund in partnership with The Olympia Companies, an 800-employee hotel owner-operator, and served as partner in a private equity firm focused on hotel and multifamily residential development in Eastern Europe.
For the past 22 years Mr. Rupert has served on the Real Estate Advisory Committee to the Cornell University endowment fund; in 2012 Mr. Rupert was appointed Co- Chairman of that group. Mr. Rupert is a founding board member of the master’s program in real estate at Cornell, and for more than two decades has guest lectured in graduate-level courses and served as a student mentor. Mr. Rupert currently serves as the President of the Cornell Real Estate Council and President and Chairman of the Board of the Harvard Business School Real Estate Alumni Association. He holds a BA from Cornell and an MBA from Harvard.
Jenny Wang is a Founding Partner and Chief Operating Officer of Sunrise Real Estate. She is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day management of Sunrise and the asset management activities within the portfolio. She also serves as a member of the Investment Committee. Prior to joining Sunrise, Jenny was a Principal in the Real Estate Group at Blackstone, where she worked in New York and London from 2012 to 2021. While in New York, she primarily focused on new residential and logistics investments across North America. After moving to London in 2019, she focused on real estate asset management activities on Blackstone’s logistics and residential investments across Europe. Jenny graduated magna cum laude from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University.
Douglas M. Weill is a co‐founder and Managing Partner of Hodes Weill & Associates. Mr. Weill is responsible for the origination of new business, project management of client mandates and oversight of the operations of the firm. He is member of the firm’s Operating Committee and sits on the Investment Committee for Tunbridge Partners, an affiliate focused on investing in asset and fund management businesses.
Mr. Weill has approximately 30 years of experience in the real estate industry as a consultant, advisor and investment banker, specializing since 2000 on the real estate investment and fund management industry. Mr. Weill has advised on institutional private placements for over 100 real estate private equity funds, raising in excess of $35 billion of capital. Previously, Mr. Weill was a Managing Director at Credit Suisse, based in New York. Mr. Weill joined Credit Suisse First Boston in November 2000 when the firm merged with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ). Mr. Weill co‐founded Credit Suisse’s Real Estate Private Fund Group (REPFG) in 2000 at DLJ. From 2000 through February 2009, Mr. Weill co‐led the business, with the responsibility for the strategic oversight and management of REPFG.
Mr. Weill joined DLJ in 1997 from Paine Webber Incorporated where he was a Vice President in the Real Estate Investment Banking Group. Prior to this, he was with Kidder, Peabody & Co., which Paine Webber acquired in 1995. Prior to joining Kidder Peabody, Mr. Weill was with Kenneth Leventhal & Co., where he was a Senior Real Estate Consultant specializing in portfolio valuations, business and strategic planning, workouts and bankruptcies. Prior to Kenneth Leventhal & Co., Mr. Weill was an associate at Hospitality Valuation Services, where he focused on hotel valuations and feasibility studies. Mr. Weill received a BS in Hotel Administration from Cornell University. Mr. Weill serves as a member of the Advisory Board of Cornell University’s Baker Program in Real Estate.
Mr. Russ Bernard founded Westport Capital Partners LLC in 2005, and stepped down from his position as Managing Partner in late 2019 to pursue other ventures. He is currently co-owner of Beal’s Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor, Maine, a 90 year old business which he purchased in 2014. Prior to founding Westport Capital, Mr. Bernard was a Principal at Oaktree Capital Management and the Portfolio Manager for all of Oaktree’s real estate funds.
Before joining Oaktree in 1995, Mr. Bernard was a Managing Director at Trust Company of the West(TCW) and Portfolio Manager at TCW Special Credits Mortgage Fund. His professional experience prior to TCW included positions with Win Properties, Inc., Time Equities, Inc., and Price Waterhouse.
Mr. Bernard has served on a number of corporate, university, and charity boards. He holds a B.S. in Business Management and Marketing from Cornell University.
Gabriel Boyar is a Managing Director at Amherst Capital Management, responsible for leading the team in the origination of first mortgage floating rate debt on all types of commercial real estate. He has over 20 years of experience in real estate finance and investment and has closed on well over $10 billon of transactions in his career. Amherst Capital is a middle market lender, providing floating rate first mortgages of up to $100 million in the top 30 markets in the United States. Amherst focuses on financing local operators who have aligned themselves with institutional equity to effect value add business plans.
Prior to joining Amherst Capital, Gabe was the owner and Managing Principal of Columbia River Capital Advisors. At Columbia River, he served as the full time exclusive advisor to a prominent NYC family that owns a substantial real estate portfolio. At Columbia River, Mr. Boyar provided advisory services related to sales, acquisitions, financings and 1031 exchange opportunities. Prior to starting Columbia River, Gabe was the leading revenue producer in New York City for CapitalSource. Representative transactions included pre–construction financing on numerous development parcels in New York City, construction financing on all property types and first mortgage financing on properties that required significant capital infusion to re-establish themselves in their respective marketplaces.
Gabe started his career as an attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges and left the law to work on the business side of real estate with Nomura Securities and UBS. Gabe holds an MS in Real Estate from New York University, a JD from the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University and a BS from Cornell University. He is an avid soccer fan and is a board member of West Side Soccer in Manhattan. Gabe also serves as a class officer for Cornell University and is an active member of Cornell’s Real Estate Council.
Ms. Lera Covington is a December 2020 degree candidate at Cornell University where she is pursuing a dual Masters of Real Estate and Masters of Regional Planning degree. Lera holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Duke University. During her time at Cornell she worked as a Summer Acquisitions Associate at Lendlease’s New York office and as an Asset Management Intern with the Albanese Organization in New York. She also served as President of the Association of Cornell Women in Real Estate (ACWIRE) and Co-President of the Cornell Associate Real Estate Council (AREC).
Prior to Cornell, Lera worked in corporate finance and information technology audit. Lera is passionate about transforming communities through the power of real estate. She is actively recruiting for roles in real estate acquisitions and investments.
Mr. Ali Daye is a 2019 graduate of Cornell’s Baker Program in Real Estate. Prior to Cornell, he received a bachelors in psychology and a masters in construction management, both from North Carolina A&T State University, the largest historically black college and university (HBCU) in the country and spend nearly a decade as a project manager in the construction industry.
While in the Baker Program, Ali concentrated in development and was a Baker Fellowship recipient. He was also a very active student, in and out of the classroom. Ali was a Senior Edition for the Cornell Real Estate Review, an active member of the Associate Real Estate Council (AREC), a board member of the Association of Cornell Women in Real Estate and the founder the Philip Payton Society for Minorities in Real Estate.
Currently, Ali works as a Senior Development Manager for SG Atkins Development Corporation in Winston-Salem, NC.
Mr. Matt Mitchell is Co-Founder and Co-Managing Partner of SteepRock Capital. Founded in 2010, SteepRock Capital is a Real Estate Investment firm with a focus on debt. As of Feb 2022, SteepRock has acquired over $2 billion of real estate debt and equity positions encumbering institutional quality real estate assets throughout the United States. Prior to founding SteepRock, Mr. Mitchell served as an Executive Vice President and Principal at Colonnade Properties, LLC.
Prior to joining Colonnade Properties, he served as a Vice President in the acquisitions group at the Taylor Simpson Group. He holds a B.S. from Cornell University and currently serves on the Board of Cornell University’s Baker Program of Real Estate.
Mr. Seth Singerman is the president and managing principal of Singerman Real Estate, LLC (“SRE”), an opportunistic real estate investment firm that has deep experience executing complex transactions and unlocking embedded value through the ownership of properties, real estate loans, and operating companies. SRE focuses on maximizing risk-adjusted returns through investments in both debt and equity across all major asset classes, including office, retail, hotel, and multifamily, in addition to secondary real estate asset classes such as student housing and senior housing. Singerman has led and sourced direct investments in properties and performing and nonperforming loans with value in excess of $2.0 billion across all major real estate asset classes. During his over 16 years in real estate, Singerman has never lost money on any direct real estate investment he has led and sourced.
Prior to forming SRE, Singerman was managing director and the youngest partner in the history of GEM Realty Capital. During his tenure, the GEM’s assets under management grew from $30 million to over $1.5 billion. He has a public–private crossover background in real estate as he helped lead the formation and development of a long-short real estate securities hedge strategy in addition to his senior investment role on direct real estate investments. Singerman is on the Advisory Board for the Center for Real Estate and Finance at Cornell University; on the Advisory Board to the Real Estate Applied Security Analysis Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Business; Board Member of IMH Financial, a public bridge lending platform; and Next Generation Board Member of the United States Holocaust Museum.
A graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, Singerman received his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He resides in Chicago with his wife Dana and their two children, Sloane and Grant.
Lisa Strope is the Director of Research for TA Realty. In this role, she works closely with senior leadership to craft the strategic house view, drive thought leadership initiatives and monitor domestic and international capital markets. She also partners with the firm’s investment and portfolio management teams to advance the firm’s analysis and forecasting across property types and regions.
She has over 20 years of experience in real estate research, investment, and development. Prior to joining TA Realty in 2020, she spent six years at JLL. Her responsibilities included oversight of the nation research platform for life sciences, healthcare and seniors housing and the New England research team. Prior to JLL, she served as a Teaching Fellow at Harvard Business School where she focused on the study of investment trends in real estate.
She holds a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from the Stern School of Business at New York University. She is a Board Member, CREW Boston, and an Adjunct Real Estate Faculty at Babson College.
Alan Tantleff is the leader of the Hospitality, Gaming & Leisure industry practice at FTI Consulting. Mr. Tantleff has more than 30 years of experience in lodging, gaming and real estate investment and development.
Mr. Tantleff applies his broad background and experience in real estate to a wide variety of engagements, with a particular focus on strategy, business process improvement, initial public offering preparedness, investment banking and transactional support, turnarounds, and workouts and financial restructurings. Most recently he served as the Interim President and Chief Restructuring Officer of a Singapore hospitality REIT that filed bankruptcy.
Mr. Tantleff began his career at the Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City as the Senior Operations Analyst responsible for the profitable operation of the casino-hotel. Shortly thereafter, he was recruited to manage the hospitality portfolio of The Prudential Insurance Company of America, the nation’s largest institutional owner of hotels. After executing several private and public market transactions for the insurer, Mr. Tantleff joined Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels as the leader of the New York office, where he led the brokerage group’s most active practice and initiated the company’s foray into asset management. At the onset of the financial crisis, he joined BlackRock Financial Services, leading the efforts in restructuring the hospitality component of the financial manager’s $6 billion sub-debt portfolio. He also held senior management positions at Hotel Asset Value Enhancement and Granite Partners (Savilles).
Mr. Tantleff is a former advisory board member of Checked-In, an app to assist travelers connect with their network when traveling. He serves on the Board of Directors of Cornell University’s Center for Real Estate Finance and is a former representative and board member of the Cornell Alumni Federation, where he represented the School of Hotel Administration in university affairs. He received a Master of Science in Real Estate Investment and Development from New York University. Mr. Tantleff is a frequent speaker at industry events and the author of several articles relating to management and crises in the hospitality industry.
Ms. Catherine von Seggern is an Executive Director in Ernst & Young LLP’s Construction and Real Estate Advisory Services Group working in New York. She also leads EY’s Locations Advisory Services in the Americas. She has more than 18 years of real estate knowledge. Her experience at EY has focused on project management, strategic planning, portfolio and location strategy, real estate technology solutions and real estate and facilities sourcing and organizational design.
von Seggern has a Master in Real Estate from Cornell University and a BS from New York University.
Born and raised in New York, Taylor has had five years of experience in the hedge fund space with the titles of executive assistant and chief of staff, but is new to the real estate industry. She graduated from James Madison University honors college in 2017 and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in hospitality management, a minor in business administration with a concentration in leadership. She is now acting as the administrative coordinator for the Cornell Real Estate Council.
Natalie Alechko is a second year MPA student concentrating in Science, Technology, and Infrastructure Policy at the Cornell Brooks School of Public Policy. Natalie is a Fellow of the Infrastructure Project Management and Financing program, working toward a career in commercial real estate or infrastructure investment. She was Vice President of Research at Rhodes Associates, an executive retained search firm focusing on the commercial real estate industry. Through her experience at Rhodes Associates, Natalie developed a passion for real estate and combined it with an interest policy analysis and implementation. Overall, she plans to pursue a career in developing communities and advising on sustainable investment strategies.