Meet the Visionaries

Spring 2018 Issue
By: Bennett Gray

A new program is engaging younger CRE industry professionals with the work of the NAIOP Research Foundation and its Governors.

PROFESSIONALS AGE 40 and under make up an increasing percentage of the commercial real estate profession as well as NAIOP’s membership. Those age 35 and under currently comprise 24 percent of NAIOP’s total membership and 46 percent of new members annually. In 2017, the NAIOP Research Foundation, aiming to recognize exemplary industry professionals in the early years of their careers and involve them in the work of the Foundation, created the Visionaries program.

The inaugural class of 10 NAIOP Visionaries was introduced at CRE.Converge 2017 in Chicago last October. Research Foundation Governors and NAIOP senior staff selected these individuals from a large pool of applicants for their career accomplishments, history of involvement with NAIOP and demonstrated interest in the Research Foundation’s mission.

“In a time of great change for our industry, the Foundation increasingly relies on the guidance of its stakeholders to help direct our research efforts,” says Research Foundation Chairman Bill Hunt, president of Elmhurst Group in Pittsburgh. “As experienced professionals under 40 years old, the Visionaries bring with them unique perspectives that will increase the diversity of our brain trust and improve the quality of our research.”

The Foundation established the program with five goals:

1) Providing an opportunity for exemplary industry professionals in the early part of their careers to gain industry and career development insights from Governors.

2) Recruiting rising industry leaders whose expertise and experience will help inform the Foundation’s research.

3) Ensuring that the perspectives of NAIOP members under age 40 are represented in Foundation activities and discussions.

4) Educating Visionaries on the benefits of becoming Governors through thought leadership and mentoring.

5) Cultivating future Governors to support the Foundation’s work.


During their three-year term, Visionaries will attend exclusive meetings with Governors; participate in shaping the Foundation’s research; and be mentored by individual Governors. A maximum of 20 Visionaries will serve at any time.

“The work that is done by the Governors and the Research Foundation is integral to leading NAIOP, the communities in which we develop and the commercial real estate industry into the future. Giving back to the organization that has given so much to me and to our industry is a high priority of mine. I am honored to be a member of the Visionaries program,” says Megan Creecy-Herman.

Visionaries will directly impact the Foundation’s work by serving on its Research and Distinguished Fellows Credentialing committees, as well as by helping to identify qualified candidates for future cohorts. They will also share their experiences and expertise by attending Industry Task Force (ITTF) meetings held at NAIOP’s two annual events. The ITTF is made up of Research Foundation Governors, NAIOP Distinguished Fellows and invited guests. The Visionaries will join other task force members in exploring and discussing timely industry-related topics that help to inform the Foundation’s annual program of work.

In early 2018, the Foundation introduced a mentor program exclusively for the Visionaries. In each year of their three-year term, participants will have the opportunity to meet with a different Governor mentor and benefit from their experience and guidance over a year-long period. To date, 10 Governors have generously volunteered to give back by becoming mentors to Visionaries.

“I was drawn to the Visionaries program by the opportunity to have a closer association with the Research Foundation and its Governors,” says Kate Nolan Bryden. “I have been fortunate to benefit from mentorship at different times throughout my career and greatly value the opportunity to learn from others who have a greater depth of experience in the industry. I look forward to the exposure to new ideas and opportunity to help drive research and analysis that will benefit the profession.”

The Foundation will be employing a software program already used by NAIOP’s chapters to match mentors and mentees. Governors who volunteer to serve as mentors provide their 
biographies, along with dates when they are available to meet with prospective mentees, which are posted in a “mentor gallery.” Visionaries can then select their mentors and set up sessions with them online.

“The continued growth of the Governors program has made for more robust and insightful discussions at Foundation meetings, as more geographic regions and company types are represented,” says Marc Selvitelli, CAE, executive director of the NAIOP Research Foundation. “Engaging these rising industry professionals will bring important new perspectives to the Foundation’s work.”

The application period for the next class of Visionaries will open in July 2018; only five new members will be accepted in this and future years. All NAIOP members who are 40 years of age or younger and have seven or more years of commercial real estate experience are welcome to apply. More for information, visit 

By Bennett Gray, vice president, NAIOP Research Foundation,