Diversity Success: A Diversity Collaborative Update

May 01, 2017

Written by Martha Nevanen, Senior Vice President - Marketing & Communications at NorthMarq Companies

In 2016, the Diversity Collaborative continued to make progress in supporting its mission of increasing diversity within the commercial real estate industry through scholarship, outreach, events, and communication. BOMA is a founding partner organization of the Diversity Collaborative.

If you are interested in learning more about the organization, BOMA members are invited to attend the Annual Town Hall meeting from 8:00 – 9:00 AM, on Thursday, May 4 at Normandale Lake Office Park.

With the help of seven other commercial real estate associations, the organization works to deliver the tools, talent, and opportunities to drive inclusiveness, diversity, and future success in the commercial real estate industry. “We envision a future for Minnesota's commercial real estate industry where our professionals demographically reflect our clients, tenants, and communities,” said Lisa Dongoske, Executive Vice President – Asset and Occupier Services, Cushman & Wakefield NorthMarq. Lisa, Gabe Philibert (Senior Vice President – Commercial Lending, Bell Bank), and Chantily Malibago (Portfolio Manager, UnitedHealth Group) comprise the leadership steering committee of the Diversity Collaborative.

In 2016, the Diversity Collaborative awarded five $2,000 scholarships. Students from St. Thomas, St. Cloud State University, Concordia University, and Metro State University were selected for the scholarships:

  • Dorcas Gyamerah, from St. Thomas University, is working on a Master’s in Real Estate and Finance and was the Diversity Collaborative’s very first scholarship recipient in 2014.
  • Lee Bradley is a student at St. Cloud State University, studying commercial real estate and finance.
  • Omotola Toe is a student at Concordia University, working on a degree in Organizational Management and Leadership.
  • Vanessa Sayers, a Management major from Metropolitan State University, attended a Diversity Collaborative information session held in June 2016 to learn about the variety of careers available within the commercial real estate industry.
  • Bjorik Mutize, is a junior at St. Cloud State University, studying Finance and intends to use his education to pursue a career in investment/development.

Since 2014, the Diversity Collaborative has awarded a total of $19,500 to academically promising women and minority students who have demonstrated an interest in the industry. The deadline for the fall semester scholarship applications will be September 30, 2017.

Diversity Collaborative relationships continued with STEP-UP Achieve, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Metro State University, and Hamline University. New relationships were established with Augsburg College and Dunwoody Institute. The group has been actively working to establish ongoing partnerships with a few key professors/teachers and organize monthly or quarterly events onsite at each of the educational partners. The 2016 Town Hall meeting featured Dr. Denise Williams, Metro State’s assistant professor in the College of Management, who continues to be a great partner with the Diversity Collaborative.

To increase awareness about the types of careers available within the commercial real estate industry, the Diversity Collaborative has participated in four career fairs at three high schools: Roosevelt, Edison, and North High. Professionals from Diversity Collaborative member companies and volunteers representing the member professional associations attended and discussed specific job responsibilities, earning potential, and educational needs to be considered for those careers.

Other events organized by the Diversity Collaborative in 2016:

  • Metro State University Information Session: The panel discussion resulted in increased Metro State student participation at events. Two Metro State student liaisons were invited to be part of the Diversity Collaborative Events Committee and one of our scholarship recipients was also a Metro State student.
  • NAIOP University Challenge: Several Cristo Rey students participated as audience observers.
  • Student Tours: Ten students from St. Cloud State and one student from Metro State went on a tour of Duke Realty’s 13-acre, 120,000-square foot Otsego Industrial Park. Many thanks to Josh Budish and his team at Duke Realty for hosting the event.
  • Job Fairs: Fairs for interns and entry-level positions were held at both Metro State and Hamline Universities.
  • 2016 MNCAR Expo: A total of 22 students from Cristo Rey and Metro State attended. This was the largest group of students hosted since the Diversity Collaborative began attending the MNCAR Expo.
  • MSCA’s State of Retail & Retail Tournament of Champions Event: A total of 12 students from Cristo Rey Metro State attended.

Another 2016 goal of the Diversity Collaborative was to improve communication with our partners, schools, and students. Along with updating the organization’s website, the committee created a new flyer specifically targeting students, which accompanies the scholarship application for use at career fairs, industry events, and college presentations. Finally, the group worked to issue announcements of scholarship winners and events to increase awareness and participation.

If you are interested in supporting the mission, the Diversity Collaborative is always looking for mentors, committee volunteers, or hosts for career/shadow days. Please visit the Diversity Collaborative website for a list of contacts or to register for the Annual Town Hall meeting. 



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