CityBuilders A Program From Auburn's MRED Program

Event Panelists for 2022 Symposium

Event Hosts:

Dr. Justin Benefield

Head, MRED Program

Dr. Benefield joined the Auburn University Department of Finance faculty in Fall 2012 and began teaching regularly in the Master of Real Estate Development program in the Spring of 2017.  He has published over 35 articles in some of the leading journals in real estate and finance, including the Journal of Real Estate Economics and Finance, the Journal of Real Estate Research, the Journal of Housing Research, and the Journal of Real Estate Portfolio Management.  In addition, his work has been presented at a wide variety of regional, national, and international academic meetings.

Dr. Benefield has taught numerous finance and real estate courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  He was ranked 21st in the inaugural Real Estate Academic Leadership global rankings based on number of publications over a five-year period in the top three real estate journals.  He is a recipient of the William N. Kinnard Young Scholar Award from the American Real Estate Society, which recognizes high-quality contributions to the real estate discipline early in one’s career.  Dr. Benefield is a very active member of the American Real Estate Society, and he is currently serving as Editor for that organization’s Journal of Housing Research.  Dr. Benefield received his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Alabama in 2006.  Prior to joining Auburn’s faculty, he taught at the University of Alabama for one year and the College of Charleston for six years.

Damon Duncan

CEO, Clesia Ventures, LLC

Duncan is the principal owner of Clesia Ventures, LLC, a real estate development and consulting firm based in Atlanta.  He is the former President and CEO of the Montgomery Housing Authority, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority and Housing Authority of Elgin.

A graduate of Auburn University’s MRED program in 2015, he holds a Masters in Public Administration and Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University. 

Mr. Duncan currently serves on the MCP advisory council and is also the immediate past president of the Master of Real Estate Development Alumni Association, both at Auburn University.  He also serves as an adjunct professor in the Master of Community Planning program at Auburn.

During his long 30-year career in public housing, he has participated in the development of more than $500M in mixed-finance, mixed-income projects. Additionally, he is a holder of several accommodations and distinctions in affordable housing.  He also holds a PHM certification with NAHRO, and he has successfully completed PHADA’s Executive Director Education Program (EDEP)

Kim Kuerten

Executive Director, Graduate Executive Programs

Ms. Kuerten is an experienced academic leader with demonstrated success in designing and delivering educational offerings to the marketplace.  She was an integral part of the design team which launched the Executive MBA Program in 1998 and the Physicians Executive MBA Program in 1999. These were two of the first hybrid model (residencies bridged with distance learning) Executive MBA Programs in the country.  She was also on the team that launched the Master of Real Estate Program in 2010.  One of the few programs in the country for working professionals.

During her tenure with Graduate Executive Programs, she has admitted, matriculated, coordinated, and graduated over 1600 students. She has also led 58 international study tours to over 30 countries and 48 domestic field studies throughout the US.

picture of moderator Greg Winchester

Greg Winchester

Head, Industry & Alumni Relations / MRED Program

Mr. Winchester has over a thirty-five year career in banking, finance, and real estate. He is the Founder and CEO of Summit Investors, LLC in Milton, Georgia, an alternative advisory and investment firm. The firm specializes in commercial and residential real estate investments in both North America and Europe. The firm also invests in private operating companies and provides advisory services.

Previously, Mr. Winchester was a Co-Owner and Co-CEO of Trimont Real Estate Advisors which performs customized financial services for commercial real estate lenders and investors and has over $110 billion of client capital under management. He has been involved in the portfolio management of over $225 billion of loans and real estate investments in his career. Prior to joining Trimont, Mr. Winchester was an Executive Vice President of Lomas and Nettleton in Dallas, Texas, and was with the First National Bank of Atlanta.

Panel 1: Partnerships and Industry Leaders

Moderator – Damon Duncan

Jose Alvarez

Southeast Regional Administrator, HUD

Alvarez is currently serving as HUD’s Regional Administrator for Region 4, which covers the southeast states, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Prior to his role at HUD, Alvarez was elected to the Kissimmee City Commission in 2012 where he championed diversified economic growth, affordable housing and homelessness initiatives, sustainable environmental policies, and fair labor practices. In 2016, he was elected to serve as City of Kissimmee Mayor, becoming the city’s first Hispanic Mayor. Additionally, Alvarez has 20+ years of experience as a Licensed Real Estate Broker and a small business owner who has had the privilege of serving his industry and community by taking part in numerous home ownership and business growth initiatives. Among numerous appointments to industry committees and boards, he’s served on the Florida Association of Realtors® Board of Directors, the Osceola County Association of Realtors Board of Directors, and in 2009 he was elected to serve as President of the Osceola County Association of Realtors®.

Over the years, Alvarez has served numerous causes, boards, and committees throughout Osceola County. From multi-million-dollar endeavors to life-changing initiatives, through his various board memberships and affiliations, Alvarez has been responsible for advising CEOs and lawmakers, contributing to strategic plans, approving budgets and business decisions, evaluating management, and representing his charge to stakeholders. Alvarez’ true passion is the people he serves.

Mark Dominick

Regional Director, Office of Multifamily Housing, Southeast Region, HUDraduate Executive Programs

Dominick joined HUD in 2004 in the Detroit Multifamily Hub as a Project Manager (Account Executive), after beginning his career in affordable housing with the Michigan Performance Based Contract Administrator (PBCA). In his 17 years with HUD, he rose through the ranks of Multifamily, most recently as an Asset Management Division Director in the Atlanta office. He was also an Account Executive Branch Chief, Supervisory Project Manager and Senior Project Manager in the Detroit office. Mark spent time in various details including: Acting Director of Assisted Housing Oversight, leadership roles with the Multifamily Transformation and implementation of the national roll-out of AMPS and the electronic workflow. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Finance from Michigan State University and Masters in Public Administration from Central Michigan University. Mark is a Lieutenant, Supply Corps Officer, with the U.S. Navy Reserves, attached to support operations for the Fleet Logistics Center in Bahrain, within the 5th Fleet Area of Operations. In his free time he likes to golf, complete home improvement/landscape projects and spend time with family.

George Guy

CEO, Fort Wayne Housing Authority

Guy, Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Senior Vice President of NAHRO. He has spent the past 25 years developing solutions to improve the quality of life for families in underserved communities. When not leading the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, he serves as a board member of the United Way of Allen County and the Fort Wayne Urban League. He also serves on the Fort Wayne Area Planning Council on Homelessness, and the Indiana Balance of State Continuum of Care Board. In addition, he also serves as Vice Chair of Board of Ethics and Credentialing Trustees of NAHRO, founding member of the Housing & Education Task Force for NAHRO, Vice Chair of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis Affordable Housing Advisory Council, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Advisory Council on Community and Economic Development, and Board Member of the MTW Collaborative.

Eugene Jones

CEO, Atlanta Housing Authority

Jones, president and CEO of Atlanta Housing (AH), has a track record spanning over 35 years of leadership experience in management, public/private partnerships, operations, finance and governance in the public housing industry. Formerly, Jones served as CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority from 2015 to 2019 and previously held top executive positions with several public-housing agencies in Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Mo., and Toronto. Atlanta Housing is his ninth leadership position with a major-city housing agency. He began his career in public housing working for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has led several big-city public-housing agencies, and has a reputation for his specialized expertise in several areas, including entrepreneurial leadership, operations, finance, governance, and public policy.

David A. Northern, Sr.

CEO, Houston Housing Authority

Northern is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Houston Housing Authority (HHA). He has proven experience as a proactive leader in federal housing assistance programs including urban planning and policy development. He previously served as president and CEO of Housing Authority of the Birmingham District— the largest housing authority in Alabama.

A demonstrated leader in the affordable housing sector, Northern is the current president of Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, an organization of 1,900 member housing agencies representing more than 1.9 million low-income housing units throughout the U.S. In his previous role as Executive Director and CEO of the Housing Authority of Champaign County in Illinois, he was appointed by Governor J.B. Pritzker to the State Housing Task Force, and he was elected to the Illinois Housing Council’s Board of Directors.

Northern was invited to participate in a White House Convening on the proposed HUD smoke-free rule in U.S. public housing with HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and other highly notable leaders in 2016.

Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, Northern’s educational background includes a Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Ball State University. He also holds a Certificate from the University of Maryland for completion of the Executive Education Program in Housing and Community Development; a Graduate Certificate in Public Management; and a Certificate from the Institute for Innovative Leadership Development. Northern completed Harvard University Kennedy School of Government 18-month program Community Development program. He finished with Excellence in the program which Harvard offered in conjunction with NeighborWorks America. A well-rounded industry veteran, Northern is also certified as a Rental Housing Development Finance Professional from the National Development Council. Most recently, Northern completed graduate coursework at Auburn University toward a Master in Real Estate Development.

Panel 2: Capital and Credit Providers

Robert L. Chiles – Moderator

President, Regions Affordable Housing LLC

Mr. Chiles leads Regions Affordable Housing, which invests directly on behalf of Regions Bank and syndicates to other investors through multi-investor and proprietary funds.  He joined Regions Capital Markets in June 2008 as Managing Director in Real Estate Syndications after spending three years with KeyBank as Director of Loan Syndicate and Sales, covering institutional real estate, institutional homebuilders and healthcare real estate.  Prior to that, he was also Director of Business Development for First Fiduciary Investment Counsel, a large-cap value style money manager in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to joining First Fiduciary, Mr. Chiles was Senior Vice President and Director of Distribution for KeyBank’s Private Equity Group, focusing on the syndication of funds invested in affordable housing communities benefitting from Low Income Housing Tax Credits.  Mr. Chiles also spent 14 years working for various subsidiaries and affiliates of PNC Bank, focusing on private and public developers and owners of commercial real estate.  In his last role at PNC Rob focused on distributing LIHTC investments to CRA-oriented investors.  Mr. Chiles received an International Master of Business Administration degree from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Political Science from the University of Louisville.

Keith Broadnax

Senior VP – Business Development, Cinnaire, Lansing, MI

Broadnax joined Cinnaire in 2002 and serves as Senior Vice President-Business Development for Illinois and Indiana which includes originating Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity and multi-family debt. Mr. Broadnax has been in the Community Economic Development field for 31 years. He also has experience as an underwriter of multi-family developments. Mr. Broadnax has Underwritten over $188,000,000 in Debt and Equity (4,110 units); and Originated nearly
$450,000,000 in Debt and Equity (3,751 units). He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Kentucky University and a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Ball State University. Mr. Broadnax serves on the boards of the Illinois Housing Council-Board Treasurer; Indiana Affordable Housing Council; Board Secretary for Prosperity Indiana; Board Chair for the Coalition for Homeless Intervention & Prevention (CHIP); Hamilton Area Neighborhood Development (HAND); First Pathway Community Development Advisory Committee; Ball State University Planning Alumni Advisory Board; and the City of Indianapolis Advisory and Redevelopment CDE. Mr. Broadnax’s Personal Life Vision is Servant Leadership to community and family, and to love what I do, and to know that I am making a positive difference in the lives of people around me.

Ann Cone

Senior VP, CBRE Capital Markets: Debt & Structured Finance/Multi-Family

Ms. Cone is responsible for marketing and
originating FHA insured construction and permanent financing for multifamily,
senior living and healthcare housing. Ms. Cone has more than 35 years in
commercial real estate with an emphasis in FHA insured debt products.
Ms. Cone began her career in 1983 in Atlanta with the Center for Housing
Alternatives, a non-profit organization that provides consulting and technical
assistance for specialized housing for persons with disabilities. In 1986 she was
promoted to Administrator responsible for the organization’s production of
housing.

Christina Davis

Senior Development Management, Columbia Residential

Davis has over 17 years of experience in the real estate industry and currently serves as Director of Real Estate Development for Columbia Residential in Atlanta, GA. She is responsible for the development of mixed-income and mixed financed multifamily developments across the Southeast including site selection, financing, design, construction, and stabilization. She has developed senior housing, multi-phased master-planned communities, and many new construction and rehab transactions with a variety of private and public partners including the Housing Authority of New Orleans, the Athens Housing Authority, and others. She sits on the Fannie Mae Healthy Housing Rewards committee and is an active member in the Urban Land Institute Atlanta Chapter. Christina joined Columbia Residential in July 2011 after 6 years of work in the sustainable construction industry as Communities Manager at Southface Energy Institute. She holds a MS in Building Construction from Georgia Institute of Technology and a BA in Environment and Society from the University of Alabama. While Christina has a passion for travel and even studied international development in Kumasi, Ghana for 12 months, as a native southern, she is grateful to be in a mission-driven industry with a quality company, doing great work close to home.

Rob Walton

Managing Director, Trimont

As Managing Director of Credit and Asset Management for Trimont, Walton serves as the head of Asset Management for one of its largest customer’s affordable housing portfolio. This portfolio consists of more than $6Bn in financing for multifamily owners, investors, and developers. It contains a wide range of products, including tax-exempt and taxable bonds, construction and interim loans, as well as bridge and credit facilities for over 200 properties across the United States.
Rob has an extensive background in financing, both through various debt and equity products, affordable properties benefitting from Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Tax-Exempt Bond financing, and subsidies from HUD and other federal and state agencies, as well as projects classified as Workforce Housing.
Prior to joining Trimont, he served as Vice President of Asset Management at Fannie Mae for more than 15 years, where he was responsible for oversight of its $330Bn DUS and LIHTC portfolios. Previous to Fannie Mae, Rob worked for several commercial banks financing office, retail and industrial properties.

Jenny Wilkirson

Director, Affordable Housing, Walton Communities

Wilkirson joined Walton Communities in 2018 where she oversees Walton’s affordable housing platform. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Corporate Strategy and Financial Economics from Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining Walton, she spent seven years in Dallas, Texas working on acquisitions and asset management at Crow Holdings Capital, a real estate private equity fund manager. She also previously interned with the development team at AMLI Residential in Atlanta. Wilkirson is an active member of the Georgia Affordable Housing Coalition, Real Estate Investment Advisory Council, and the Urban Land Institute (Center for Leadership Class of 2020). She also serves on the board of LifeGate Counseling.

Panel 3: Innovation: Developers, Contractors, and Architects

Moderator – Damon Duncan

Eddy Benoit

President & CEO, The Benoit Group, Atlanta, GA

Eddy Benoit, Jr. is the Founder & CEO of The Benoit Group, a national commercial real estate development firm headquartered in Atlanta, GA with offices in Chicago and Birmingham.  Benoit has over 26 years of experience in this industry and has developed over 1.8 billion in projects. The company focuses on developing and managing Mixed-Income Affordable Housing, Independent Senior Living Facilities, Student-Oriented Housing and Urban Transportation-Oriented Workforce Housing throughout the Southeast and Midwest.  The company is vertically integrated with three affiliates that offer Property Management, Construction Management and Program Management consulting services.

Benoit serves also as the CEO of Dorchester Management, LLC which is the property management services arm of The Benoit Group.  Benoit acquired this 30 year old company in 2013 to diversify its business platform while also delivering high quality of customer service to its residents.

Benoit is a CCIM, with a Masters in Construction and Real Estate Science from Southern Polytechnic and a Bachelor in Construction from the University of Florida.  He is an active executive board member of the University of Florida’s Masters of Science in Real Estate (MSRE) program, The Georgia Affordable Housing Coalition (GAHC), Zoo Atlanta, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, AIPAC Congressional Club, Georgia Tech Masters in Construction and Real Estate program, Advisory, and the University of Florida School of Building Construction.

Don Bernards

Partner, Baker-Tilly, Madison, WI

Bernards, partner in charge of Baker Tilly’s affordable housing team, has been active in the industry for more than 20 years. Don works with public housing authorities, not-for-profit and for-profit sponsors of affordable housing projects across the nation. He provides solutions and strategies from project conceptualization to applying for scarce resources and advising on various debt, equity, and grant options. In addition, as LIHTC projects approach year 15, Don advises clients on exit strategies, including resyndications.  Don has worked on affordable housing projects totaling more than $2 billion of total project costs. Don also volunteers his time as chair of the Affordable Housing Fund Committee for the United Way of Dane County, which is receiving donations to build a revolving loan fund to provide subordinate gap financing for affordable housing projects throughout the county.

Matt Stewart

Director of Asset Management, TerraCap Management, LLC

Stewart, a Partner with TerraCap Management, manages a portfolio consisting of 3.5 million square feet of office and 2.8 million square feet of multi-family assets.  Mr. Stewart has over 28 years of experience in accounting, asset management, underwriting, valuation, mortgage finance, acquisitions, and dispositions of all types of commercial real estate assets nationwide for institutional investors. Prior to joining TerraCap, Mr. Stewart spent 11 years at TriMont Real Estate Advisors managing large real estate portfolios and leading teams of asset managers responsible for the management and resolution of over $3 billion of commercial real estate assets.

Terese Walton

President, The LouWalt Group, Detroit, MI

As the Principal and Owner of The LouWalt Group, an affordable housing development and technical consulting firm, Terese is a well-accomplished and well-rounded expert in the field with 30 years of experience. During her career, Terese guided and oversaw various stages of the development/redevelopment process, including acquisitions/dispositions, demolitions, planning, financing, and construction of residential units and commercial spaces throughout the Midwest, Eastern Seaboard, Southern and Southwest regions of the country.  In addition to her role as developer partner to public housing authorities, Terese held essential operational and strategic executive leadership positions internal to the authority including Asset Manager, Director, COO, Executive VP, Chief Real Estate Officer, and President & CEO.  Throughout her career she served public housing authorities in a myriad of other divisions including Community Supportive & Resident Services, and Government Affairs.  

Over the past decade, in addition to acting as co-developer to PHAs, Terese provided guidance, mentoring and leadership to emerging executives, receivership support to designated troubled agencies on behalf of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and speaking and training services to industry groups.  Her experience and expertise afforded her opportunities to serve in communities small and large in New York, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina and most recently Virginia and Alabama. To date her efforts led to more than 2,000 units of affordable and mixed income housing and over $400 Million dollars transforming neighborhoods and improving the quality of life for families in the communities she’s served.

Darryl Washington

Economic Development Director, City of Montgomery, AL

Washington currently serves as the new Director of Economic Development for the City of Montgomery. He is a native of Birmingham, AL with over 25 years of experience in economic and community development. He has worked at various levels of economic development including Regional Account Manager for BellSouth, Economic Development Consultant for the City of Irondale and most recently he served as Director of District Development for Urban Impact in Birmingham’s Historic Civil Rights District. He is an active member of the International Economic Development Council, Economic Development Association of Alabama and The National Main Street Center and has received continuing education certifications in economic development from both Auburn University and Georgia Tech Institute of Technology. Darryl earned a BA degree in Marketing from Morehouse College and Master’s Degree in Public Management from Birmingham Southern College.



Last modified: May 24, 2022