Phase 2 - Real Estate 101 (How to or one big idea)

Podcast - Building Diverse Leadership in Real Estate

Tyler Stewart
December 6, 2022
Podcast - Building Diverse Leadership in Real Estate


Apple Podcasts


Featured On This Episode

AJ Jackson

EVP, Social Impact Investing

JBG Smith

Brian Allan Jackson (AJ) leads social impact investing for JBG SMITH (NYSE: JBGS), a S&P 400 Real Estate Investment Trust. AJ created JBG SMITH’s impact investment business and built a multi-investor platform that invest in the preservation and creation of market-rate affordable housing.

Collete English Dixon

Executive Director, Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate

Roosevelt University

Collete English Dixon has more than 30 years in investment management with a focus on commercial real estate investing. Prior to her current role at Roosevelt University, she was Executive Director – Transactions for PGIM Real Estate (formerly known as PREI), a business unit of Prudential Financial, and co-leader of PREI’s national investment dispositions program. In that role, she oversaw the sale of more than 200 investment properties located throughout the US, with a total value of more than $8.7 Billion, on behalf of PREI’s investment funds. Prior to her role in dispositions, English Dixon was responsible for sourcing more than $2.75B of wholly-owned and joint venture real estate investment opportunities in the Midwest markets covering all property types, including office, rental and for-sale multi-family, hotel, industrial and retail properties. Collete’s experience also includes commercial property development and asset management.In her current role, English Dixon is the Executive Director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University where she is oversees all aspects of the undergraduate real estate major and the MSRE/MBA-RE degree programs. She is the first African American woman leader of a higher-education real estate program in the US. She is a member of the administrative team for the Heller College of Business and is also the program director for the university’s Hospitality and Tourism Management undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Download the 10 Principles for Embedding Racial Equity in Real Estate Development

Learn more about ULI's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) 

Learn more about ULI

About ULI

Dedicated to advancing Urban Land Institute’s capacity to connect, inspire, and lead, the ULI Foundation leverages its charitable 501(c)3 organizational status to secure and manage philanthropic assets and partnerships. This extraordinary tradition of ULI member altruism and goodwill serves to benefit and grow the ULI mission, changing millions of lives and improving communities around the globe.


[00:00:00] Adam Hooper: Hello and welcome. I'm Real Crowd CEO Adam Hooper, and this is The Real Estate Investing for Your Future Podcast. Here we explore the latest in commercial real estate trends, insights, and investment strategies that passive investors can use to build real estate portfolios that last 

[00:00:20] Collete English Dixon: all opinions expressed by Adam Tyler and podcast guests are solely their own opinion.

And do not reflect the opinion of real crowd. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. To gain a better understanding of the risks associated with commercial real estate investing, please consult your advisors. 

[00:00:41] Adam Hooper: Welcome to the next episode of the special series we recorded with our friends from the Urban Land Institute.

This series is brought to you live from Eli's fall meeting in Dallas that featured over 45 sessions, 150 speakers. 240 events and more than 5,500 members in attendance. In today's conversation, we're joined by AJ Jackson of JBG Smith and Colette English Dixon of Roosevelt University to discuss Eli's emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Our first interview is with AJ Jackson, executive Vice President of Social Impact Investing at JBG Smith, and a member of Uli Washington. AJ joined us to discuss Eli's report, the 10 principles for embedding Racial Equity in Real Estate Development. To learn more about AJ the fall meeting in this report, be sure to check the show notes.

With that, let's get to the conversation. Well, aj, thank you so much for taking some time outta your day. I know it's a busy fall, fall meeting, so, uh, we appreciate you coming to share your thoughts. Thank you guys 

[00:01:42] AJ Jackson: for having us. I'm excited to talk about the. 

[00:01:44] Adam Hooper: So, uh, before we get into that, tell us a little bit about yourself and the work that you do at JBG Smith.


[00:01:50] AJ Jackson: So, I'm AJ Jackson. I'm head of Social Impact Investing at JBG Smith. Jbg Smith is an s and p 400 reit. Mm-hmm. . But the platform that I manage within the company is actually a discretionary fund where we invest in, uh, market rate affordable housing. Okay. And then try to commit to both long term affordability and social amenities that drive returns for our investors, but also for the residents in 

[00:02:11] Adam Hooper: the.

Perfect. And so I think in our space we've seen. There's, there's kind of a tension there, right? Between impact investing and returns based investing. And oftentimes those are two completely different buckets, right? You've got philanthropic money and you have return driven money. Um, how, how do you bridge that gap, right?

How do you, how do you price that in, or how do you make strides to, to bring a connection between impact and returns? 

[00:02:35] AJ Jackson: So I think we, it's about intentionality for us. I mean, all investments have impacts beyond the financial mm-hmm. , but in the case, Specifically sort of capital I impact investing. We have a, an an additional set of parameters that we're considering when we're making that investment.

Mm-hmm. and our investors are measuring us both on the financial returns as well as the impact parameters that we've established. So in the case of, of our platform, it's primarily around housing affordability. , and that's a discussion that you've gotta have with the investors going in, right? We're setting specific targets, uh, for the impact, and we're setting specific targets on the financial side, and we're essentially trying to manage to a double bottom line, uh, if you will, with, with our funds.

So it really comes down to, um, the transparency up front in the communication with the investors about what you're trying to achieve and making sure there's alignment between those, the, the two balances. And it's a whole spectrum too. It's not, you know, you can go. Much more towards impact and much less towards financial return.

Mm-hmm. , and you can go much more towards financial return. Right. And much less towards impact. And it's really about making sure that the sponsor and the investors are aligned and where they want to be 

[00:03:38] Adam Hooper: along that spectrum. And that's, like you said, comes down to transparency, communication, and then some of, I mean, is everything.

Down to data, right? I mean, I, are there more qualitative effects or aspects of the, 

[00:03:51] AJ Jackson: the impact? It's a, it's a very good question. So there are, for us, very specific, uh, data points that we measure and we publish, uh, an impact report every year that talks about the data around impact, particularly around affordability.

Mm-hmm. , as well as around some of our environmental impacts. Mm-hmm. , uh, but there's also a qualitative component to that because as I mentioned, we invest in essentially services as amen. Uh, and we think those are things that are good for the investors in terms of return to the property level, but also good for the residents.

But that can be much more qualitative. Mm-hmm. . Uh, and I think one of the, the sort of larger trends in the industry right now is trying to get more quantitative mm-hmm. about some of those impacts. It's easy to say how many affordable units you had or how many credit scores you would improve, but some of the more, the things that may.

A longer term impact, for example, on resident stability at the property. So may help your, your, i long term, but also a longer term impact on the financial outcomes for the residents. Mm-hmm. are more difficult to measure in the, in the short term. And that's, I think that's one of the areas where there's a lot of energy right now in the industry trying to figure out how do we, how do we do that better and, and.

[00:04:56] Adam Hooper: What's the right sense of scale to start paying attention to this or to, I mean, it seems like there can be some complexity in putting those, those procedures in place. So like, so when does that become the right time to start looking at some of these 

[00:05:07] AJ Jackson: initiatives? I think that's a good question. So just an example of our, of our platform we launched in 2020, um, and we've invested in about 1700 units of, of housing.

Oh, okay. So, so far all in the, in the Washington metro area. Um, and we are just now, I think at the point where we feel like we have enough, Potential data sets Yeah. To start to understand that. Right. And so we've been talking both with uh, sort of private industry, but also a lot with academia about what is the right way to have a statistically significant meaningful analysis mm-hmm.

of what we're doing and whether it's working because. There's on the impact side, you want to be doing things that are driving results for residents. On the financial side, you want to be investing in things that work. Right, right. No. That are also driving, uh, not just results for residents, but also driving, you know, again, NOI at the property level.

And so being sure that we can really measure and understand those things, do more of what's working, do less of what's, of what's not working, is kind of the. 

[00:06:03] Adam Hooper: Sounds like a pretty good idea. . Um, now switching gears a little bit, um, let's talk about the report that you did with Uli just recently released, uh, 10 Principles for Embedding Racial Equity and Real Estate Development.

Um, why don't you just talk us through how did that, how did the report come about? What was some of the methodology that you guys used? Uh, to come up with a 10 and then tell us a little bit about what the contents are, and again, we'll have links in the show notes to everybody to, to download the report.


[00:06:28] AJ Jackson: So the 10 principles for embedding racial equity and real estate development really came out of desire from the members of the Urban Land Institute mm-hmm. to have a toolkit to help them better address. Uh, what was becoming a larger and larger concern in the development practice? Mm-hmm. , I think starting really with the publication of Color of Law, and then accelerate by Richard Roth, book by Richard Rothstein, and then accelerated after the murder of George Floyd.

There was an increased understanding both in the development community as well as in the public sector at the local and municipal level of the. Long, uh, run impacts of real estate practices. Mm-hmm. in racial disparities in the country, and a desire by some of the development community to try to reverse that as well as a desire by public sector officials to have racial equity incorporated more fully into real estate development in their communities.

Mm-hmm. . And so that's a lot of change going on and people were. Didn't really know what to do with that, how to respond to that, where the best practices were, where to start. Exactly. So the 10 principles was a model that ULI has used in the past of gathering together member experts who are actually practitioners.

So not, not sort of theoretical academics mm-hmm. , but actual practitioners in, in the field. Bringing them together, the distilling their knowledge into a set of principles that would be widely actionable. Across geographies and across sectors. So they're, they should work, you know, in New York City as well as in Manhattan, Kansas.

Mm-hmm. , they should be usable by architects and planners as well as by developers and bankers. And it's, it's not a checklist, it's not a roadmap. It really is a toolbox where you can take from what you need for the specific situation that you're trying to, uh, trying to, trying to 

[00:08:07] Adam Hooper: advance. And so, uh, created initial internal initiative to do this.

Practitioners coming about, Um, why don't you tell us about some of the, some of the 10, uh, 10 principles, 

[00:08:19] AJ Jackson: right? So the, the principles, uh, you know, you can't have favorite children, right? But the, some of the principles that I think are really important, um, go back to some of the key takeaways from the overall work and one.

Is embedding a equity lens into everything that you do. It's basically this transformational mindset. The idea that it's not a check the box ex exercise to think about equity and real estate development. It really is embedding it the same way that we think about market studies and, uh, sustainability and building evaluations.

You have to think about equity sort of as comprehensive part of, of, uh, of the development process. Uh, another important principle that we spend a lot of time talking. Is that you've got to build the business case around racial equity, right? Mm-hmm. , there are important social reasons to advance racial equity.

There are also important business reasons to advance racial equity and advancing equity can have positive impacts for investors, for developers. Uh, and that's an important component that I think sometimes, uh, gets, get, gets overlooked. Mm-hmm. , um, going back to our early conversation, another principle that we spend a lot of time talking about is the importance of.

Um, measuring and collecting, uh, of being able to communicate in setting goals and then being able to communicate progress against those goals. Mm-hmm. , uh, in with, you know, with, with data as opposed to with, uh, with anecdote. Um, and then lastly, I'd say, and this is probably uh, one of the most important, is the, the, uh, need for strong intersectional partnerships.

The notion that you can't do the work alone. Mm-hmm. that you've really gotta. Across sectors and across communities in partnership to advance equity. 

[00:09:58] Adam Hooper: And now you mentioned it's not, it's on a checklist. This is more of a. I dunno if a guide, I mean, not a guidebook, but this is, it's a, it's a full scale mentality shift.

It, it's 

[00:10:08] AJ Jackson: a behavioral shift. It is a mentality shift. I mean, we talk in one of the principles about understanding history and context. Mm-hmm. . Right? And I think that's really important because as you understand history and context, that enables you to have a mind shift. Um, it's, it k it's, it's in the same way.

Understanding discounted cash flow allows you to think differently about investment in real estate. Mm-hmm. understanding equity, social equity allows you to, to, to make this 

[00:10:34] Adam Hooper: mind shift. Yeah. And, and so one of the things that we've, again, we've talked about here on, on the show, we've been here at the fall meeting is a lot of these concepts, they're very big, right.

These are very audacious goals to try to, to, to try to tackle. What are some of the, the media term now things at, at, again, a personal level or a local level that listeners of the show, I mean, talking about it is a good first step, right? Having this conversation. Right. Um, but what are some actual, you know, today action items that people can start, obviously reference from the report.

Yeah. Um, but how can people take action to start changing this way of thinking? . 

[00:11:05] AJ Jackson: So I think it, it really does begin with knowledge. So any of your listeners who haven't read Color of Law, that's a, a fairly easy read. Mm-hmm. , uh, and it's actually, there's a lot of summary information on the ULI website in the, in the toolkit.

Uh, if you don't wanna go through the whole book that kind of brings you, gives you, gives you, again, history and context. Mm-hmm. , I think that's an important grounding. Um, for listeners thinking about not boiling the. But what is the one thing I can do in my space? Mm-hmm. to advance equity. It may be as simple as we're going to.

Broaden and diversify the sources from which we recruit so that we get a different type of candidate coming into our firm. Mm-hmm. , it may be as simple as, I'm simply gonna ask my vendors about diversity on their teams. Mm-hmm. about diversity in the ownership of their organizations. Not saying I'm gonna do anything or not, but I'm just gonna start by asking and understanding, you know, what the, what that landscape looks like, uh, looks like for me.

So there's some very sort of, Bite size pieces that people can take to begin. Mm-hmm. , uh, you know, down the road all the way to, I'm gonna change the way that I do my pre-development process to really engage the community and make it community centered mm-hmm. and give them, you know, uh, a voice in deciding the ultimate configuration of my project.

That's sort of the, the other, the other extreme. Mm-hmm. . So there's a, there's. Something really for wherever you are, uh, and however much you feel comfortable biting off at this, you know, this point 

[00:12:31] Adam Hooper: in time. And so Nega just recently released a report, but I'm just curious, throughout the process, how have you seen adoption?

What's response been? I mean, it's, it's, no, it's no secret real estate. It's a fairly slow industry to, to adopt change. Right. Um, how has that been rolling this out and what's the reception been so far? The 

[00:12:47] AJ Jackson: response has been overwhelmingly positive. . Um, I think we are still in the phase of essentially spreading the word.

Mm-hmm. . So hopefully, uh, things like your podcast will help to get the word out about the report, about the toolkit, because as we're spreading the word, what we're also doing is building the toolkit. We pull together a. A, a lot of experts who were practitioners and pulled from what they were doing, but there are other people that we didn't talk to who are advancing equity in their communities in other ways.

And we want to get their stories, their case studies into the toolkit. Mm-hmm. , because they might be most relevant to someone who's out there. So that's a part of, of, of what we're doing now, but there's been a really strong positive response from members and a real. To understand how they can do more.

Mm-hmm. , what comes next, how they can better engage with the, with the content. So we're excited about launching that, uh, next year. 

[00:13:34] Adam Hooper: Good. And so it sounds like this is an evolving, uh, process. It's not just a static report, right? 

[00:13:39] AJ Jackson: It is not, no. It is an ongoing, um, again, journey we're trying to do, as you said, something that's a transformational mind shift.

Mm-hmm. mind set shift. So it is, um, it is an. Journey that will, that will take us into next year and possibly beyond as we build to really embedding that equity lens Yeah. Into the way that development is done. And 

[00:13:58] Adam Hooper: so what, what do you guys see as success for this initiative? 

[00:14:01] AJ Jackson: To me, success is when. Racial equity is as common as market studies, discounted cash flow analysis, site site assessments in how you think about development.

Mm-hmm. , right? That it's not a separate checklist, that it's embedded into every aspect. Uh, it's success is when. All private actors in the space, not just the public sector, are thinking about these questions as they're selecting teams. Mm-hmm. and as they're developing projects. 

[00:14:31] Adam Hooper: And that's, so that's, I think that's a fantastic place for us to get to.

Right. Um, which you just mentioned there is how much of this is manifested at the team and internal level versus the actual. Product or the built environment. Right. How, where, where do you 

[00:14:47] AJ Jackson: see that mixed? So one of the things that we talk about in the report, and one of the principles kind of speaks to this, is that there is a personal aspect, there is an organizational aspect.

Mm-hmm. , there is a societal aspect and there's a project aspect. So I think it gets manifested across all different, all, all different, all different ways. And we talk about the importance of leveraging both your institutional power. As well as your individual power. Mm-hmm. , and that's gonna be different for, for, for different people.

Uh, and so it's gonna get, it's gonna get manifest manifested, excuse me, across, um, sort of across that spectrum, depending on where you are, how much institutional power power you 

[00:15:23] Adam Hooper: have. Perfect. Well, that's, um, again, really appreciate you coming to, to share this with us today. Um, if listeners out there want to get more involved or learn more about what you're doing, either at JBG Smith or with a, with a report, how can they do that?

[00:15:35] AJ Jackson: Well at JBG Smith, you can go to jbg, but the report is on the ULI website, Uh, and there's a whole racial equity toolkit in addition to 10 principles for embedding racial equity and real estate development. Perfect. 

[00:15:49] Adam Hooper: And we'll have, we'll have, uh, links in the show notes to all that.

I think you guys did a webinar today too, so if that's still, hopefully that's still available. We'll, we'll put a link in there as 

[00:15:56] AJ Jackson: well. Yeah, there's, there are several webinars. There's some case studies, there's a, there's a ever growing library of content around, uh, around the report. 

[00:16:04] Adam Hooper: Thank you again to AJ for taking the time to join us.

Next up is Colette English Dixon, executive Director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University and a member of ULI Chicago. In this interview, Colette shares with us insights from HER two panels, champions of Change, leading the Future of Real Estate Development. And supporting diversity in real estate focused emerging managers.

We hope you enjoyed this conversation with Colette English Dixon. Well, Colette, thank you so much for spending some time with us here at the fall meeting in Dallas. Uh, looking forward to 

[00:16:37] Collete English Dixon: the conversation. Thanks, Adam. It's nice to be here. 

[00:16:39] Adam Hooper: So you've had a very long career in the real estate industry.

You've done a lot of influential things, uh, now in the academic world. Why don't you tell us a little bit about what you're doing at Roosevelt? 

[00:16:49] Collete English Dixon: Wow. Yeah, I have been around a long time. Um, this iteration of my career puts me as the executive director of the Marshall Bennett Institute at Real Estate at Roosevelt in Chicago.

And I have to be really clear, I don't teach, I have learned that that's not my strong suit , but I'm really good at like telling people what to do. So I oversee the program. Um, it is a great opportunity for me to help develop the. Talent. Mm-hmm. for the industry and hopefully advance some of that talent through our graduate program.

Mm-hmm. . So we have an undergraduate major and minor. In real estate under the College of Business. And we have, um, an msre, a specialized degree in real estate and we have a real estate concentration under the MBA program. So we try to cover the waterfront there. 

[00:17:36] Adam Hooper: And how has that transition gone from the operator side into academic 

[00:17:41] Collete English Dixon: side?

They are such different worlds. Yeah. Um, there are days I just have to just go, really? Am I really meant to be here? ? Um, but academia is, Academia. Mm-hmm. . Um, it doesn't necessarily work on the same timelines that we generally work at in private business, right? Mm-hmm. , because especially in the real estate space, you go through the mindset of, you know, time kills all deals.

Mm-hmm. real. Um, I wouldn't say that academia gets that necessarily mm-hmm. , but the fact that academia has finally recognized that one of its purposes is to help develop. Sometimes specifically for opportunities. Mm-hmm. for industry, I think will be the way that we help, um, secure the pathway for academia to continue to be valuable.

Mm-hmm. , right? Because as everybody's talking about, you know, I go to school, I spend all this money, I can't get a job, what am I supposed to do? The transition from private industry to academia in this space was really kind of the perfect transition, because I believe that's what academia can do well going forward.

[00:18:55] Adam Hooper: Probably been a pretty interesting couple of, uh, years. What, uh, one of the trends, again, emerging trends here this year is kinda that normalization, reverting up and down to the mean there. Mm-hmm. . Um, how have, how have you seen that, how has that been in the academia world? Has that been. An interesting 

[00:19:12] Collete English Dixon: time for you as well, or, oh wow.

You know, COVID put us all into a tailspin. Yeah, right. But what I thought was really amazing that similarly to private business, academia switched very quickly. Mm-hmm. , it has been harder to switch back than I think most people would expect. Mm-hmm. . Um, similar to some of the challenges that people are having around the work from home model.

Mm-hmm. . So there's some similarities to some of the resistance that we're having. Yeah. But fortunately, young people think the idea of going to college is a really great transition point in their lives. And so going back to school is, or going to college, um, is still perceived as being a valuable engagement for them.

Mm-hmm. , but we're trying to get back to normal, you know? Yeah. We are trying to get our students back on campus in the classroom, networking with each other, building connections and relationships that, especially in this real estate space, is really key. Yeah. Programs that, Necessarily lead to those sort of paths that can't really validate the value of being in a classroom as part of.

Learning experience are probably having a little more difficulty getting that traction back. Mm-hmm. , um, similar to, you know, jobs in industry that go, I really don't need to be in the office to do this job. Right, right. Same problem in academia. 

[00:20:32] Adam Hooper: Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about the two panels that you're involved with.

Yeah. First one, champions of Change leading the future of real estate development. Uh, second one, supporting diversity in real estate focused emerging managers. Yes. We were talking with AJ about this in, in the 10 principal report that was also put out links in the show notes. Mm-hmm. . Um, I think there's an interesting, I guess I don't know if it's an overlay or, or separation between, there's a, there's a people part of this and there's a place part of this, right?

So, and, and you're covering both of those on these two different panels, right? Yes. So I guess I'm curious to see as we look forward with some of these changes that are starting to be more apparent in our industry. How do you look at the, the human side of that and the people side of it from the companies that are choosing to make these new decisions from an employment perspective, and how do you see that reflected in the actual places in the built environment?

[00:21:23] Collete English Dixon: Well, what's really interesting is kind of a slightly different lens I have on that. Okay. Because I think that there is a part in the places thing that requires. Yes. Okay. Yeah. And it requires an acknowledgement of both the people who need to be involved in the process and the people who are impacted by the process.

Mm-hmm. . So while programs around supporting the development of emerging minority diverse talent, which is what we're gonna, what we talked about with Robert Byron and Blue Vista. Mm-hmm. . It leads to their engagement in places and projects that may not necessarily be similar to the discussions we have around embedding racial equity in our development projects and communities that need these sort of investments.

Mm-hmm. , um, they can be very separate. So I really appreciated the opportunity and. embedding racial equity, thematic, um, panel to just talk about how the outcomes in places mm-hmm. can be incredibly benefited by the inclusion of a diverse talent pool that is participating in that process so that you can take the people context mm-hmm.

and match it with the locational context and hopefully come out with something that is a much strong. And more sustainable and more equitable sort of built environment, taking the opportunity to facilitate the growth and development of new talent through emerging manager programs. Mm-hmm. and, um, partnerships and equity resourcing for minority firms or nascent minority firms is both a way.

Infuse talent in the global part of the industry, the bigger part of the industry, but also to give them a pathway mm-hmm. , to be an active part of these other sort of developments and these other sort of projects. So it's a very, um, mixed bag, but it's also incredibly, um, interactive. Mm-hmm. , it is truly a, you know, put them together.

It is greater than the sum of the. Yeah. And I think we look at it coming from two different directions, but at the core it's people all the way around. Yeah. 

[00:23:45] Adam Hooper: And so how, how can listeners of this start to take action today? Right? What are some of the things that they can be doing incorporating their practices now to, to start solving again?

I think at the core, uh, a people issue, 

[00:24:00] Collete English Dixon: I think that if we are, um, prepared to. To the communities that we wanna work in. Mm-hmm. , if we are willing to. Absorb and include the issues and the challenges that those people in those communities have as part of what we do for a living. Mm-hmm. , right? Building things, um, change in communities, investing in these communities.

We will also find an interesting way to have people think that this is something they wanna be a part of. Mm-hmm. , they don't wanna just be impacted by it. They wanna be a part of it. Mm-hmm. . So I tell people you wanna go and look at talent on the ground. , you wanna bring that talent in the room, you wanna hear that talent that helps you better understand those communities you're gonna invest in.

Mm-hmm. . And it becomes this virtuous circle. You'll find new talent, you'll find new skill sets, um, that will help you continue to grow and build that business that continues to grow and impact community. Mm-hmm. . So it is a, um, multiplier effect that I don't think most people think about. Mm-hmm. . Now, I would also say that we need.

Acknowledge that the road to, um, bringing in new talent into this industry is not just about giving them money to do deals mm-hmm. . And it's not just about mentoring them, it's about showing young people that this is a pathway that actually makes some sense. Mm-hmm. , it, it is about our representing ourselves and our industry in these communities, um, as good people.

Mm-hmm. , you know, not as, I don't want to, don't wanna like raise a whole bunch of strange noise here, but not as like a new form of colonizing communities. Right. We want to infuse on you what we think you should have. Mm-hmm. , if we are presented into these communities without approach, they will not see this as a path they want to engage in.

Mm-hmm. . And there's a whole source of talent there that we would love to have in the room. Mm. We need to show ourselves to them as being a place where they can see themselves being. 

[00:26:12] Adam Hooper: Right. And how do you create that authentic buy-in? 

[00:26:13] Collete English Dixon: Right. At that level? Yeah. So we're impacting their communities positively.

They see this as being something that they can do positively for other communities. Mm-hmm. or for their own community. They join us. It all kind of multiplies. Mm-hmm. . So I think there's a. Way for every company actively engaged in this, every small company, every large company mm-hmm. , to look at how they interface with these communities and how they can find talent in those communities and how they can contribute to those communities.

[00:26:42] Adam Hooper: And I think there's, it's a, it's a behavioral and a philosophical shift of thinking to, to, yes. To, to make these changes. Yes. Um, and I think, again, a theme that's been consistent throughout our conversations here is, , while there is a, there is a, a behavior and philosophical change to, to get towards that place.

If we can't track it some way, then how are we actually gonna measure this? Right? And so I think our industry is in a spot where data is becoming much more critical to decision making. Yes. So how, how are you seeing the measurements of this? Or is it still more qualitative at 

[00:27:16] Collete English Dixon: this stage? I think it's more qualitative at this stage.

Mm-hmm. . But I think we all recognize that. Being that this is an industry at the end of the day, although we love the quality mm-hmm. , uh, the way that we get things done is by proving out the case. Yeah. We're gonna have to start thinking about the quantitative valuation or confirmation of what we've been able to do.

Mm-hmm. . And that starts on the company level. How are you doing with the talent you have? Mm-hmm. , um, it starts. Justifications that we take into communities. Right. Because they're gonna go, yeah, you said you did that. We'll prove it. Mm-hmm. , you know, you don't validate who you are by just anecdotal commentary.

Right? Right. So we are getting there. Um, I think we haven't quite figured out completely how we quan. We quantify what we're doing. Mm. But I do think the strength right now of the qualitative outcomes will give us a little time to figure that out. Right. And that's, that's where it starts, right? That's 

[00:28:19] Adam Hooper: It starts with that.

Yes, it does. And now recording this in fall of 2022, I think we're heading into some, I don't think there's too much argument. We're heading into some uncertain times, right. I think we're, we're creating our 

[00:28:30] Collete English Dixon: own uncertain times. Unfortunately, I'm really struggling 

[00:28:33] Adam Hooper: with this. Okay. This is a sidebar. How much of this is just our own self-fulfilling prophecies.

If we tell ourselves this, how much is it 


[00:28:39] Collete English Dixon: happen? Right. Thank you, . I mean, I, I was at an interesting presentation, um, earlier this fall with the woman who I think highly of, um, and her viewpoint around the economy and her whole thing is like, we're talking ourselves into a recession, right? Yeah. And it's like, why do we need to do that?

There are enough challenges here that we need to focus on. That kind of going, oh my gosh, the world is gonna come to an end. No kidding. Um, I don't really know what the all this means. Yeah. I mean, don't get me wrong. There are probably some things coming outta covid. We do need to put in check. Mm-hmm. . But I don't know that putting them in check the way we're doing it is gonna be the best outcome.

Uh, but there's some things that we need to fix and those, some of those concerns and that people are taking those concerns to heart or however they're talking themselves into how they need to take them into. Into consideration is gonna lead to a, a bit of an adjustment. Yes. 

[00:29:32] Adam Hooper: Mm-hmm. . And so I guess kind continuing that, how, how do you see these initiatives?

Um, or, or what could we be paying attention to today to minimize this uncertainty that we're heading into in light of, of, uh, inclusion and, and equity 

[00:29:47] Collete English Dixon: about? I think unfortunately, I don't think, um, the uncertainty that we're walking into is something.

Diversity, equity, inclusion can change. Mm-hmm. . But what I am concerned about, as has shown itself to happen in other shifts, um, in the economy or in this industry's, uh, success or slow down or activity level, is that we start to get diverted. Mm-hmm. and suddenly that was a really big issue right now, well, right now we're worried about this issue, so this, we got other 

[00:30:24] Adam Hooper: things to do.

And so yeah. So how, how do we keep that focus when we're heading into an uncertain is 

[00:30:30] Collete English Dixon: those of us who care. Yeah. Right. Is those of us who are keenly aware of the importance of having a diverse talent pool in an industry that is increasingly impacting diverse communities. Mm-hmm. , those of us who recognize the value of that have gotta be the ones that.

Saying, we can't lose, we can't take our eye off the ball here. Mm-hmm. , because often one of the cycles has, has always shown that when something, when the big shiny object comes along, well that's the thing we don't do anymore. Mm-hmm. . And then you wake up one day and you go, oh my gosh, we really didn't make any progress on that.

It's like, you know why that was? Because for the last 18 months you've been doing something else. Mm-hmm. in order to have sustainable change. And this is an industry that needs talent. Mm-hmm. as it continues to grow. I don't care what we're doing with AI or technology, we still need people to do this.

People business stuff still is a people business. Yeah. We need this talent. We can't go back and forth. We can't keep going in and out on it. Mm-hmm. and. If we're gonna continue to grow through these cycles, if we're gonna continue to find a pathway where we can be a resilient industry, we can have the sort of impact that we wanna have on the world.

Mm-hmm. , it requires us continuing to talk about the importance of talent and the importance of diverse talent so we make better decisions. So these slowdowns don't divert us again. Yeah. It's those of us who care and not to be obnoxious about it. , I've seen too many cycles. Mm-hmm. , I've seen us change our priorities.

Um, often the people fall to the bottom and even if you're not just concerned about diversity, the people fall to the bottom. Mm-hmm. , the people are what keep this industry go away. Right. And so I look forward to being one of those people that keeps going like, Hey guys, you know, we can't just keep walking away from this.

Yeah. We've gotta stay steady. It's like every other sustainable thing you. , you've gotta stay engaged with it. 

[00:32:33] Adam Hooper: It's kinda the opposite of what we're talking about, will ourselves into a, a recession. We have to will ourselves into 

[00:32:38] Collete English Dixon: this change. We have to will ourselves into this change. Yeah. We have to keep talking about why we need to have this and how as an industry of trillions of dollars mm-hmm.

we continue to do the work that we think we need to do through this talent. We need to keep this talent as front of. Because they'll be what helps us get the stuff done. Yeah. 

[00:33:01] Adam Hooper: So now with your, again, your change into the academia world, what has you most excited about the next two to three to five years?

[00:33:11] Collete English Dixon: There are young people interested in entering this industry to affect change. I think historically for people who intentionally decided to go into real estate, recognizing that there were a whole bunch of people in this industry that fell into it, that had no idea where they were going, and this is where they wound up.

Mm-hmm. , I think there was a, a wave where entering the real estate industry was about money. Mm-hmm. , it was about, you know, the gl, it was about the high-rise. It was about all of that stuff. I find the current. Cohort of young people looking at this industry and about to enter this industry. Having in mind the things that make the world better through this industry.

We've been really good in the last few years with conversations from Oli and, and, and it's peer group talking about the impact this industry has on communities. Mm-hmm. , the impact this industry has on the world. A lot of these young people walking into this industry in the next 2, 3, 5 years are looking to use this industry to do good.

Mm-hmm. , that's exciting. It is the fact that they care about what happens in communities, the fact that they care about sustainability, the fact that they care about how this industry guides what happens around the world and can help change people's lives. That's really exciting. That's really exciting 

[00:34:47] Adam Hooper: coming at it from a, a different, a different place than maybe it has been 

[00:34:50] Collete English Dixon: historically.

Yeah. Yeah. Is that, and everybody wants to be a real estate developer and build, you know, the Willis Tower anymore. Yeah. You know, they might wanna be a real estate developer and build a hundred affordable, attainable single family homes, or do something that is environmentally positive in the built environment.

That's a very different view than what we used to see, and I think that bodes. For how this industry will continue to evolve for the good, not just for the money. I 

[00:35:18] Adam Hooper: think that's a wonderful place to, to wrap it up. Colette, thank you so much for spending some time with us. Why don't you let everybody know how they can learn more about what you're up to, uh, at Roosevelt University?


[00:35:27] Collete English Dixon: one thing I do wanna say, you know, Roosevelt University was founded on the idea of providing education to whomever wanted it. Mm-hmm. and. core of social justice and social equity kind of guides everything we do. So the Marshall Benon Institute of Real Estate being housed in this university, I think gives us a unique platform for developing that talent that I've been talking about that cares about the rest of the world.

Mm-hmm. and we are, um, really, really benefited by having some. Corporate support, great industry support so we can help people pay for school. Mm-hmm. , we've done a great job of getting our undergrads jobs, our grad students are advancing in their careers. Um, I welcome anyone who cares to support or learn more about what we're doing, reach out to me.

I'm at Sea Um, or you can find me on LinkedIn. But, um, really love the industry's response to what we're trying to get done and, and look to continue to grow that. So thank you so much. 

[00:36:30] Adam Hooper: Thank you, Colette. You can learn more about Colette and what she's up to at Roosevelt University by clicking the link in the show notes.

Well, that's a wrap on our second episode from the fall meeting. Thank you again to the Urban Land Institute for allowing us to share highlights from the fall meeting with you, our listeners. To learn more about the Urban Land Institute, head to Stay tuned for the next episode in the series, and with that we'll catch on the next one.

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