A Movement, Not a Moment: MBA Kicks Off CREF Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Campaign

Sharon Walker is Associate Vice President of MBA’s Commercial/Multifamily Group. She can be reached at swalker@mba.org. Walker represents the interests of members active in the multifamily real estate finance sector, including advocacy on multifamily policy issues and overseeing a variety of committees, working groups, councils and events. Walker is also a frequent speaker and contributor on panels at industry conferences and meetings

Sharon Walker

The Mortgage Bankers Association is uniquely positioned to help our members and the commercial real estate finance industry address long-standing issues of social justice and inclusion as the premier trade association representing real estate finance.

Whether through leveraging existing platforms that celebrate and encourage diversity and inclusion such as mPower or through the development of new actions or platforms that are created to move the industry forward, a trade association with its broad reach across industries maintains a central location and set of functions from which to foster change. MBA’s intention is to seize the opportunity presented by events in 2020 and the national reaction in the nation’s consciousness to fully support commercial/multifamily members in developing a game plan and a strategy for making the industry more diverse and inclusive.

This is not a small task and any quick wins here likely will not be lasting or meaningful. What we are doing right away is developing a new platform and getting member buy-in for a path forward and action. We have assembled an all-star team of member leaders to help MBA staff and Commercial/Multifamily Board of Governors (COMBOG) develop a road map, execute goals, and maintain accountability.

This task force is made up of a broad cross section of individuals and member firms from various functional areas across the commercial real estate finance ecosystem. Members were picked given their leadership in the industry, depth of experience, and for the diversity they bring to the team and association. Look out as you will be hearing more from this group going forward and  we  will regularly report to COMBOG on our activities.

We all know you must start somewhere so I will share MBA’s #sharethemic campaign from earlier this year which was a fun experiment to participate in– myself and other black female MBA colleagues shared our experiences on mPower’s Instagram account. This was an easy and fun exercise but the real work of addressing racial inequality and associated issues in our country is challenging, long-term and complex. This was one small step, but we have to start somewhere and the CREF team’s starting point will be a Diversity, Inclusion and Equity task force that I will lead with support from Lisa Haynes, Chief Financial Officer of MBA. MBA is also hiring a Director of Diversity and Inclusion who will support single-family, multifamily, and commercial members and we look forward to their onboarding and interaction with CREF membership.

I am pleased to take on this new role of leading  the task force and supporting change in the industry and look forward to following up with more details in the months to come.

See below highlights of some of the events that the Task Forces is working on:

  • Provide forums, panel discussions and webinars for senior leaders and executives to  share ideas and to help develop Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices
  • Develop a Speakers Bureau of diverse people across all roles and disciplines in commercial real estate finance, who can participate or moderate MBA panels, webinars, and roundtables and other events
  • Connect diverse talent to commercial real estate finance firms through hosting recruiting and networking events

Task Force Members

Leslie Branson, Senior Managing Director, Head of HR, Multifamily Capital Markets, Newmark Knight Frank

Jay Donaldson, President, Fannie Mae DUS/FHA Finance, NorthMarq

Quentin M. Fogan, Managing Director, Commercial Real Estate Structures Finance, BofA Securities Inc.

LaRue Johnson Jr., FHA Portfolio Manager, Debt & Structured Finance/Multifamily and Healthcare, CBRE Capital Markets

Carl McLaughlin, Freddie Mac Multifamily

Amber Rao, Vice President, Senior Mortgage Banker, Multifamily Capital Markets Lending, KeyBank Real Estate Capital

Dennis R. Siefers, Vice President, Account Management, Midland Loan Services, a PNC Real Estate business

Marcy Thomas, CCIM, CCMS, Assistant Vice President, Portfolio Manager, Asset Management, Grandbridge Real Estate Capital