Published: Dec. 10, 2019

The CU Real Estate Center hosted a diverse panel of real estate experts in a focused discussion on social equity, real estate development and the role of the private sector. The event was conceived in collaboration with the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, and turned out a broad range of students, faculty and staff.

Shannon Cox Baker vice president of Development for Urban Ventures—and a Leeds MBA alumna—moderated the panel, which included Albus Brooks a CU alumnus who is vice president of Business Development and Strategy at Milender White and a former Denver City Council member; Fiona Arnold, president of Mainspring and former cabinet member for Governor Hickenlooper; Susan Powers, president of Urban Ventures and veteran of the Denver real estate community; and Lori Pace—also a CU alumna—professional speaker, real estate activist and broker associate for Kentwood Real Estate.

 Shannon Cox, Albus Brooks, Susan Powers, Lori Pace and Fiona Arnold.

Panel speakers L to R: Shannon Cox, Albus Brooks, Susan Powers, Lori Pace and Fiona Arnold.

The panel questioned the ways traditional real estate development occurs in this country and, particularly, in Colorado. The conversation was underscored by the historical context that has created great social divide in our country and across the real estate industry. Discussion offered exploration into ideas like: What are the tradeoffs and opportunities involved with creating a genuinely inclusive city? How can residents and business owners in lower income communities generate wealth as private capital flow into their neighborhoods?

Speakers also discussed some of the impactful projects they were working on in different areas of Denver and its neighboring towns, and how they were incorporating socially responsible concepts into their work. Of note was the topic of diversity and real estate and the need for more avenues for women and persons of color to enter into the real estate sector.

Among the key takeaways—especially for students—was to think beyond the highest rate of return and about how they can do business differently in a changing world. For example, if you are passionate about social responsibility, then look for ways to integrate it into the way you work. At the end of the day, we all share a civic responsibility to advocate for meaningful change in our communities.

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