Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

As part of Cornell University, the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration, the Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF) is dedicated to the advancement of all students at Cornell.

Minorities and women are underrepresented in the real estate profession. CREF has resources to support these students at Cornell and outside the university. Specifically, we provide support to Diversity and Inclusion in Real Estate (DAIRE), the undergraduate student organization dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusion (D&I) in real estate. We also support the Philip Payton Society for Minorities in Real Estate (PPS), a graduate student organization dedicated to advancing real estate at Cornell and beyond. Finally, CREF provides funding for the Association of Cornell Women in Real Estate (ACWIRE).

We work with each of these student organizations to identify how best to support their mission. CREF is also active in supporting a program designed to provide Cornell online commercial real estate certificates to students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). We have found outside funding that allows CREF to provide these certificates to students at these universities at no cost to them or their institution.

Student Clubs

As part of our ongoing mission to connect practicing real estate professionals to diverse groups within our student body, CREF is proud to support programming for the following student real estate clubs:

Association of Cornell Women in Real Estate (ACWIRE)

Diversity & Inclusion in Real Estate (DAIRE)

Philip Payton Society for Minorities in Real Estate (PPS)

Diversity and Inclusion in Real Estate National Expansion

With support from industry members and the Center for Real Estate, the Diversity and Inclusion in Real Estate club has begun a national expansion project.

Current Live Chapters

1.Cornell University

2.UC Berkeley

2.Morgan State

Developing Chapters

1. Emory

2.University of Maryland

3.Southern Methodist University

4.CU Boulder

5.Indiana University


150 Members across three chapters

eCornell HBCU Real Estate Certificate in Association with Blackstone

With support from Blackstone, during the summer of 2021, the Center for Real Estate and Finance and eCornell offered the Commercial Real Estate Certificate program on scholarship to a small cohort of current students at seven HBCUs:

  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Hampton University
  • Howard University
  • Morehouse College
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • Spelman College
  • Tuskegee University

The aim of this program is to help address the lack of diversity in the commercial real estate industry, stemming from several issues including:

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  • an awareness gap among young Black professionals
  • lack of networking opportunities
  • limited recruitment practices

This lack of diversity is a major issue facing the industry, with only 1.3 percent of senior executive positions at commercial real estate firms held by Black men and less than one percent by non-white women (based on a 2017 study by Bella Research Group and the Knight Foundation). It is the Center’s hope that by increasing accessibility to programs such as the Commercial Real Estate Certificate, and the top tier instructors who teach them, the industry can begin to close the gap in C-suite representation.

As part of the initiative, we have been pleased to collaborate with the following academic liaisons and industry practitioners:


  • Maryanne Akers, Morgan State University
  • Tiara Arnold, Clark Atlanta University
  • Carla Bell, Tuskegee University
  • Sherry Clingman, Spelman College
  • Alesia Ferguson, North Carolina A&T State University
  • Iverson Gandy, Tuskegee University
  • Lynne Kelly, Howard University
  • Millicent Springs-Campbell, Spelman College
  • Susanne Toney, Hampton University
  • Danielle Winchester, North Carolina A&T State University

Industry Practitioners:

  • Ali Daye, Development Manager, SG Atkins Development Corporation
  • Utang Enyenihi, Account Manager, Linville | Team Partners
  • Franklin Eruo, Analyst, JLL Capital Markets
  • Crystal Gamon, RPA, General Manager – Rufus 2.0, CBRE Group
  • Thaddeaus Green, Walter Reed Development Manager, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
  • Armand Harvey, Senior Acquisitions Analyst, Realty Mogul
  • Austin Holmes, Development Analyst, Dominium
  • Derith M. Jarvis, SVP, Research and Strategy, JLL
  • Willie Jubiter, Financial Consultant, CBRE Group
  • Brian Alexander Mays, Financial Analyst, Irgens
  • Kevin McMahan, Strategic Transactions, Multifamily Investments, Americas, Nuveen Real Estate
  • Ryan N. Mitchell, DBA, Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, CBRE Group
  • Matthew Paschall, Senior Associate and Underrepresented Developer Services Advisory, Baker Tilly
  • Kendra Plummer, Founder/Managing Partner, Elise Capital
  • Aisha Roberts, Senior Director, Nuveen Real Estate/TIAA
  • Roma Williams, Vice President, Group Manager, JLL

“The Cornell Commercial Real Estate Certificate Program was beneficial to my success within my future endeavors by affording me the opportunity to enhance my previous knowledge surrounding all aspects of commercial real estate. It provided an overview of real estate from the lender, broker, and investor side.

I am grateful to have acquired this knowledge at such an early start in my career. This course has allowed me to get a jump start into my career as my institution does not offer real estate related courses. This course has not only educated me regarding the topics of commercial real estate but has also allowed me to increase my earnings with potential employers.

Thank you so much to Cornell University, Blackstone, and my beloved institution Spelman College for providing this opportunity cost free.”

– Amanda Kelley ’22, Spelman College BA Economics; Management & Organization Minor