REBNY Celebrates Diverse Group of Rising Stars for Completing Inaugural Fellowship Program

In partnership with Coro New York Leadership Center, REBNY Fellows Program is creating and cultivating a pipeline for more diverse talent to drive the next generation of the industry

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the City’s leading real estate trade association, in collaboration with the Coro New York Leadership Center, the City’s premier civic leadership training program, is celebrating the graduation of the inaugural cohort of the REBNY Fellows, a first-of-its-kind leadership program for young real estate professionals of diverse backgrounds.

The 19 inaugural REBNY Fellows graduates were honored last night at a virtual graduation ceremony that featured remarks by REBNY President James Whelan, Former REBNY Chairman Bill Rudin and Coro Senior Director Garrett Lucien, as well as a keynote speech by Melissa Román Burch, Executive General Manager, New York Development for Lendlease and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Coro New York Leadership Center

“REBNY is committed to fostering a more inclusive real estate industry and recognizes that creating a strong pipeline for diverse talent is key to achieving that crucial goal,” said REBNY President James Whelan. “I am proud to congratulate all of the bright young women and men who completed the inaugural REBNY Fellows program and I know they are already on their way to building extraordinary careers that will help guide the next generation of our industry.”

“This first-of-its-kind leadership program is set to be the driving force behind the future of New York real estate, and it has been an honor to help offer this City’s diverse rising stars the network and strategies they need for continued growth in their careers,” said Melissa Román Burch, Executive General Manager, New York Development for Lendlease and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the Coro New York Leadership Center. “Congratulations to all the graduating fellows.”

The REBNY Fellows Program taps rising real estate leaders from diverse backgrounds for a high-impact, six-month training program focused on further developing the leadership skills needed to solve complex challenges, assess multiple perspectives and collaborate effectively. The program provides networking opportunities along with advocacy and civic leadership training. Participants walk away with additional knowledge and skills and a lifelong professional network that will provide a roadmap to continued success in the real estate industry. All programming for the first REBNY Fellows cohort was held virtually to ensure safety in line with best practices regarding COVID-19.

The program was conceived and launched last year based on an overarching initiative led by Former REBNY Chairman Bill Rudin and REBNY’s Diversity Committee, which works to create professional opportunities and improve and promote the diversity of the trade association’s membership and the real estate industry at large.

The inaugural class of the REBNY Fellows Program includes:

Alexis McGuffin, vice president, business development, Suffolk Construction

Ali Siby, director – fund management, Hines

Angela D’Aguanno, chief operating officer – NY Tri-state, Cushman & Wakefield

Christie Chen, associate director – investments, Oxford Properties Group

Cindy True, director – US investments, Madison International Realty

Dennis Ovalle, senior vice president, Related Management Company

DeVon Prioleau, director, MACRO, A Savills Company

Erin Cannata, managing director, Northwood Investors

Hayley Shoener, vice president – leasing, Brookfield Investors

Henry Fuentes, senior associate – investment sales, Marcus & Millichap

Jaiye Falusi, director, Tishman Speyer

Johanna Clark-Wendt, marketing director, CBRE

Maibi Rojas, project manager, CBRE

Marie Toucet, director, CBRE

Martha Torres, assistant property manager, The Durst Organization

Meagan Chiappetta, senior real estate analyst, Edison Properties

Natisha Thomas, residential operations manager, Rudin Management Company

Rene Hamilton, assistant vice president, Helmsley Spear

Susannah Shaw, senior project manager- development, Boston Properties

REBNY is actively working to advance efforts that help attract, retain and advance women, people of color, and others from diverse backgrounds in the real estate industry. The organization’s REBNY Fellows Program aims to foster a more diverse and inclusive real estate industry by creating and cultivating a pipeline for rising leaders of diverse background within the industry. On the collegiate level, REBNY has collaborated with the City University of New York to assemble informative career panels focused on the pathways to leadership roles in real estate. REBNY also launched a new internship program in 2019, in coordination with Ladders for Leaders – an initiative of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), supported by the NYC Center for Youth Employment and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City – which placed over 50 young adults in paid summer internships at leading real estate firms. Additionally, REBNY partners with Building Skills NY to connect underemployed New Yorkers with jobs and training to create new career pathways into the construction industry, a partnership that has resulted in placing approximately 1,200 individuals from diverse backgrounds since 2016.


The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association. Founded in 1896, REBNY represents commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, and salespeople; banks, financial service companies, utilities, attorneys, architects, and contractors; corporations, co-partnerships, and individuals professionally interested in New York City real estate. REBNY conducts research on various civic matters including tax policy, city planning and zoning, rental conditions, land use policy, building codes, and other city, state, and federal legislation. REBNY regularly publishes market data, policy reports, and broker surveys. In addition, REBNY provides for its members: informational, technical, and technological resources; networking and charitable service opportunities; qualifying and continuing education courses; professional education programs, seminars, and designations; career-changing awards; legal advice; and a wide range of additional member benefits. For more information, please visit


Since 1984, Coro has provided experiential leadership programs for those leading change in New York City. Participants become leaders and influencers, developing innovative solutions to public issues, incorporating different points of view in their decision-making, and inspiring others to lead change. Coro’s 2,500 alumni are corporate and nonprofit executives, entrepreneurs, elected officials, and policymakers, including many in the real estate sector.