Special Episode: Black Voices in Real Estate | Our Industry Can Lead Change

A Note From Matt Slepin

We live in momentous times. We have been living for many months through the COVID pandemic, which has, and will continue to be a topic on Leading Voices and which, as we know, has disproportionately affected people of color in our country. Now, three weeks since the brutal killing of George Floyd was added to the long list of Black people murdered at the hands of the police, we may at long last have reached the tipping point in waking anger and the demand for change among both Black and non-Black leaders from virtually all sectors of the economy and our culture. This week also brought the Supreme Court decision that made it unlawful to discriminate against gay and transgender people in the workplace. We are still in lockdown and we have another five months till a significant election. We indeed live in momentous times.

For my regular listeners, you have heard me repeat many times my belief that what we do in the business of real estate has a significant impact on the world. Sometimes our work makes great contributions but sometimes it has negative effects and ripples. Our industry has done some amazing work in creating fabulous places to live, work and play and the vast majority of industry leaders own, operate, and develop ethically and with respect. But on the negative impact side, for example, we created the suburbs in a racially discriminatory way which intentionally cut Black people out of the wealth creation that their white counterparts enjoyed. And, we know that our industry has long been, and continues to be, a bastion of white male leaders.

We have a mission with Leading Voices. We tell the stories of leaders from across diverse sectors of the real estate industry with their personal pathways to leadership and provide insights into the diverse businesses that they lead. While many of our storytellers have been “older white guys”, we have also heard many voices of women and people of color. Since COVID, we have shifted the perspective on Leading Voices to dig into the substantive issues of the day. Given our momentous times, we will continue this deeper dive focus, particularly with women and people of color, and to explore the ways in which our businesses can make a more positive difference in our communities and our world.

I feel a deep responsibility in the recruiting work I do as the Managing Partner of Terra Search Partners, and with the microphone of Leading Voices to bring these values into our work. As executive recruiters in the real estate industry, we absolutely have an impact on who comes into the executive suite of organizations; with Leading Voices, we have the opportunity to both inspire young people along their real estate career path, as well as have existing share their perspectives with other leaders. 

As a Baby Boomer, I am appalled that, during our watch, racial inequality has continued as a systemic and brutal element of our society alongside continued, deep, issues around gender and environmental justice. These are things that our industry must deeply address and I will use my work at Terra Search Partners and the microphone of Leading Voices to do something about it. I hope that you will continue to join me in this exploration.

Matt Slepin

Host of Leading Voices in Real Estate Podcast
Managing Partner of Terra Search Partners

This is a special episode of Leading Voices in Real Estate featuring conversations with six Black real estate leaders, each of whom speaks with Matt about their personal experiences and their thoughts on how our industry can address inequalities and systemic racism in our companies, our work in the built environment, and in the real estate sector broadly.

Featured Guests

Tammy K. Jones, Co-Founder & CEO | Basis Investment Group
Since 2009, Tammy has served as both Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Basis Investment Group, a multi-strategy commercial real estate investment platform she founded with JEMB Realty Corporation that acquires and originates a variety of senior and subordinated loans, preferred equity and joint venture equity positions on behalf of its investors.  Under her leadership, Basis has succeeded in closing nearly $2.7 billion in commercial real estate debt and structured equity-related investments across the United States. Tammy has more than 24 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, investing and lending on CRE assets her entire career on behalf of large pension funds and institutional investors including Equitable Real Estate, GMACCM, and CWCapital.

Daryl Carter, Chairman & CEO | Avanath Capital Management
Daryl is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Avanath Capital Management, a California-based investment firm that acquires, renovates, and operates apartment properties, with an emphasis on affordable and workforce communities. He directs the overall strategy and operations of the Company.  Since its formation in 2008, Avanath has acquired $2.5 billion of properties in 13 states in the U.S., comprising 10,000 apartment units.


Tyrone Roderick Williams, Deputy Executive Director | Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency
Tyrone is the Deputy Executive Director at the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. His development activities have been at the forefront of affordable housing and comprehensive neighborhood transformation efforts in Boston, Houston, Atlanta and Sacramento. His experience includes leading developments in the for-profit, nonprofit, philanthropic and government sectors. He is an industry leader in affordable housing finance, community development, organizational management, and cross-sector collaborations. He directs the affordable housing, community development and project financing activities for the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Sacramento Housing Authority, Sacramento County Housing authority, the City of Sacramento and Sacramento County.

Robin Hughes, President & CEO | Abode Communities
Robin Hughes is President and Chief Executive Officer of Abode Communities, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit architect, developer, manager and operator of service-enhanced affordable housing. She has been actively involved in affordable housing and community development for over 30 years and in her 23 years as leader of Abode Communities, Hughes has transformed the organization into an Affordable Housing Finance Top 50 Developer nationwide and the premier provider of environmentally sustainable affordable housing in California.


Bill Whitlow, Partner | Terra Search Partners
Bill pairs his twenty-five-year tenure in commercial real estate with the past twelve years he’s worked as Partner at Terra Search Partners, a national executive search firm focused exclusively on the real estate industry. He provides both Terra and his clients with deep industry insights and context across a broad spectrum of senior and executive-level real estate functions including senior-level finance and capital markets, organizational structure and strategy, asset and property management, acquisitions, development, and leasing roles.


Cedric Bobo, Co-Founder & CEO | Project Destined
Cedric Bobo is the Co-Founder and CEO of Project Destined, a social impact vehicle that trains urban youth and military veterans to be owners and stakeholders in the communities in which they live, work and play. Prior to founding Project Destined, Cedric spent over 20 years as an investor and investment banker including over 10 years at The Carlyle Group where he committed over $2 Billion of equity capital. In 2015, Cedric was named to the”10 Top Powerful Black People on Wall Street You Should Know.”



Listen to the episode at leadingvoicespodcast.com/black-voices-in-real-estate.