Meet a Governor: Jean Kane

Jean Kane, 2024 NAIOP Research Foundation Chair

Why did you decide to become a Research Foundation Governor?

I made the decision to join the Governors in 2013 because I wanted to form deeper and broader connections across the industry. The Governors have always been a group of leaders who are knowledgeable and well-respected. I knew that by spending time with individuals who were tenured in their roles and had gone through many market cycles, I’d gain from their wisdom and build invaluable relationships. During my time on the NAIOP Board of Directors and then as NAIOP Chair, my eyes were opened to all the great work the Foundation was doing, and I’m honored to be leading the group next year.

What sets the Foundation’s work apart from other research in the industry?

Our work is unique and unlike research produced by any other group in our space because it uses practical case studies and delivers recommendations that CRE professionals can immediately implement for their own business. The themes and topics of our research are generated through spirited conversations with multigenerational voices. We come together to talk about ideas and theorize how the commercial real estate industry and demand for space will continue to evolve, and what the industry needs to know to stay ahead. I believe this gives our research a unique perspective because it’s forward-looking while also full of recommendations that can immediately be used in projects today.

What research reports have been most meaningful to you?

Over the last few years there have been many reports that have helped inform me at just the right time. A few that come to mind are a report we did with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2020, “The Evolution of the Warehouse: Trends in Technology, Design, Development and Delivery,” and a 2022 report, “New Uses for Office Buildings: Life Science, Medical and Multifamily Conversions.” These offered critical insights in periods when e-commerce needs were rapidly expanding due to the pandemic, and then as adaptive reuse of vacant office space was emerging as an opportunity.

This year’s report on “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Commercial Real Estate: Best Practices and Common Challenges” is also helpful for companies of all sizes to identify best practices for promoting DEI within their firms and offers actionable tips on how to expand the talent pipeline.

Talk about the role of the Visionaries program.

The Foundation launched the Visionaries program in 2017, much to the credit of Barbara Schaefer McDuffie, the Governor who was the driving force behind creating it. The program nurtures rising NAIOP leaders and engages them with the work of the Foundation with unparalleled access to senior leaders, mentoring, sharing of ideas, and building lifelong relationships. On a personal level, I really enjoy hearing from our Visionaries because they bring so much energy and enthusiasm to our conversations. They’re a more diverse group with interesting perspectives who are not only aware of what’s going on in the industry right now, but also where it is heading. Our Visionaries represent the passionate, young talent that will lead our industry and NAIOP into the future, and their insights are critical to our work.

What's your outlook for the industry?

Like most people in the commercial real estate space, I’m an optimist. The industry and the world are going through an immense amount of change at a rapid pace. We’ve survived challenging times in the past and are navigating this one by being prepared, reshaping our businesses, and capitalizing on opportunities. Tough times make good people better. When I look at the NAIOP membership today and the industry leaders who recently attended the CRE.Converge conference, I’m reassured that there’s a lot of promise for our industry and a lot of talented people working in it every day. It’s important that we continue to be curious, embrace change, operate with integrity, and set expectations for ourselves as we represent our businesses and industry.