VCU Real Estate Trends Conference (RETC)
The annual VCU Real Estate Trends Conference (RETC) attracts real estate professionals from various industry sectors such as law, finance, construction, development, brokerage and appraisal, and it provides the opportunity to look into the future of real estate, to share their expertise, and to make and strengthen professional relationships and friendships.
Thank you to the 100+ sponsors and 1,800+ registrants of the 2023 Real Estate Trends Conference. Please save the date of October 10, 2024, for next year’s conference. We are excited to announce that the conference will be hosted at a new location, the Henrico Sports and Event Center.
Sponsor registration will be opening soon! Get your name in early for maximum exposure.
Real Estate Keynote Speaker:
Willy Walker, Chairman & CEO, Walker & Dunlop
Willy Walker is chairman and chief executive officer of Walker & Dunlop. Under Mr. Walker’s leadership, Walker & Dunlop has grown from a small, family-owned business to become one of the largest commercial real estate finance companies in the United States. Walker & Dunlop is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and, in its first ten years as a public company, has seen its shares appreciate over 800%. The firm was also #17 on Fortune’s 2017 list of “Fastest Growing Public Companies” and has been named a Best Workplace for eight of the last eleven years by the Great Place to Work® Institute. Mr. Walker received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2011 and was named “Financier of the Year” in 2017 and 2020 by Commercial Property Executive.
Mr. Walker received his master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University. Mr. Walker serves on the board of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Foundation. He formerly served on the boards of St. Albans School, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and Children’s National Medical Center. Mr. Walker is also a member of the Real Estate Roundtable. Mr. Walker is an avid runner, skier, and cyclist and has run the Boston Marathon in 2:36.
Keynote Speaker: Heather McGowan
Heather McGowan, Strategic Consultant, Amazon Best-Selling Author, Speaker, LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Influencer on Lifelong Learning & The Future of Work
Future-of-work strategist Heather E. McGowan helps leaders prepare their people and organizations for the post-pandemic world of work. The last few years have forever changed where we work, who works, how we work and measure work, what we do for work, and, most importantly, why we work. McGowan is a sense maker, a dot connector, a deep thinker, and a pattern matcher who sees things that others miss. Heather gives people the courage and insight that illuminates their path forward.
She’s transforming mindsets and entire organizations around the globe with her message about how the next phase of work will focus on continuous learning, rather than simply learning once in order to work. Pulitzer Prize–winning NYT columnist Thomas Friedman frequently quotes Heather in his books and columns and describes her as “the oasis” when it comes to insights into the future of work. In 2020 Heather was recognized as one of the top 50 female futurists in the world by Forbes. Heather’s sessions help employees and leaders alike prepare for and adapt to jobs that do not yet exist.
McGowan has provided keynote addresses for audiences from start-ups to government organizations to universities to publicly traded Fortune 100 companies, including AMP Financial, SAP, Abbvie, Biogen, Fidelity, FIS, Mastercard, AT&T, Financial Times, Siemens, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Kaiser Permanente, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, MassMutual, MetLife, Best Buy, Raytheon, The US Army, Accor Hotels, Paramount, Chevron, AARP, Zendesk, Tableau, Fidelity, de Beers, Professional Beauty Association, and The World Bank among hundreds of others.
Heather addresses audiences in person from small summits for C-suite executives to large events in the tens of thousands. Her virtual talks have reached hundreds of thousands. Often quoted in the media, notably in the New York Times, McGowan serves on the advisory board for Sparks & Honey, a New York–based culture-focused agency looking to the future for brands. McGowan’s academic work has included roles at Rhode Island School of Design, and Jefferson University, where she was the strategic architect of the first undergraduate college focused exclusively on innovation. In 2019 Heather was appointed as a faculty member of the Swinburne University Centre For the New Workforce in Melbourne, Australia.
In 2022, McGowan was awarded an honorary doctorate from Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in addition to earning her MBA from Babson College and her BFA in Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design. McGowan is the coeditor and author of the book Disrupt Together: How Teams Consistently Innovate and a Forbes contributor. McGowan’s first book on the future of work, published in 2020: The Adaptation Advantage: Let Go, Learn Fast, and Thrive in the Future of Work, reached number three in business management books on Amazon and was named one of the best business books of 2021 by Soundview.
McGowan’s most recent book The Empathy Advantage: Leading the Empowered Workforce published in March 2023 and is a finalist for the Next Big Idea Book Club and identified as a top ten business book to read in 2023 by Business Chief.
Real Estate Keynote Speaker: David Bitner
David Bitner, Executive Managing Director of Global Research, Newmark
Bitner is responsible for the strategic vision and execution of research initiatives, focusing on thought leadership that leverages the firm’s deep, data-driven market intelligence with an emphasis on the capital markets space.
A 10-year industry veteran, with more than 12 years of experience in the finance industry, Bitner’s client-centric research approach comprises analysis of international macroeconomic trends, real estate fundamentals and capital markets dynamics to identify potential risks and opportunities for investors.
Bitner joined Newmark in 2022 after serving as Vice President and Global Head of Capital Markets Research at Cushman & Wakefield, where he led research and strategic planning for Capital Markets. Prior, Bitner was an investment professional, specializing in global cross-asset strategy at Makena Capital, a leading endowment-style investment manager located in Palo Alto, CA.
Bitner holds a Master of Business Administration from Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkley and a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Civilizations and Economics at Duke University.
Real Estate Keynote Speaker: Suzanne Mulvee
Prior to joining GID, Mulvee was a Director and Real Estate Strategist at CoStar Portfolio Strategy and PPR. There, she was a consultant to some of the largest investment managers, life insurers, pension funds, banks, and private equity funds in the U.S., providing independent expertise in real estate market, portfolio, and mortgage risk analysis. She regularly speaks to industry organizations, is often quoted in the national press, and has appeared on CNBC. She earned a B.A. cum laude in Financial and Managerial Economics from the University of New Hampshire, and holds the CFA designation.
Keynote Speaker: Peter Zeihan
Peter Zeihan is a geopolitical strategist, which is a fancy way of saying he helps people understand how the world works. Peter combines an expert understanding of demography, economics, energy, politics, technology, and security to help clients best prepare for an uncertain future.
Over the course of his career, Peter has worked for the US State Department in Australia, the DC think tank community, and helped develop the analytical models for Stratfor, one of the world’s premier private intelligence companies. Peter founded his own firm — Zeihan on Geopolitics — in 2012 in order to provide a select group of clients with direct, custom analytical products. Today those clients represent a vast array of sectors including energy majors, financial institutions, business associations, agricultural interests, universities and the U.S. military.
With a keen eye toward what will drive tomorrow’s headlines, his irreverent approach transforms topics that are normally dense and heavy into accessible, relevant takeaways for audiences of all types.
Peter is a critically-acclaimed author whose first two books — The Accidental Superpower and The Absent Superpower — have been recommended by Mitt Romney, Fareed Zakaria and Ian Bremmer. His latest third title, Disunited Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World became available in March 2020.
Peter’s fourth book, The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization, becomes available in June 2022.
Real Estate Keynote Speaker: Mary Ludgin
Mary Ludgin is Heitman’s Senior Managing Director, Head of Global Research and an equity owner of the firm. She is a member of the firm’s Board of Managers, Global Management Committee, North American Private Equity Valuation Committee, and Private Equity and Debt Investment Committees. She is the author of numerous articles and research studies relating to real estate markets, portfolio management and strategy. Prior to joining Heitman, she was an urban planner for the City of Chicago and she worked in retail site location.
Mary received an AB from Vassar College and an MA and PhD from Northwestern University. She is a Governing Trustee of the Urban Land Institute and sits on its Global Board of Directors. Mary also chairs ULI’s Chicago District Council. Among other professional affiliations, she served two terms on the board of the Pension Real Estate Association and was its president. Mary is also a former president of the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries. She was named a fellow of the Homer Hoyt Institute in 2000, is a docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation and is a member of the board of the Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago.
Keynote Speaker: Greg Lindsay
Greg Lindsay is the incoming director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot, CoMotion. He is also a non-resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.
His work with Studio Gang Architects on the future of suburbia was displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 2012. His work has also been displayed at the 15th and 16th Venice
Architecture Biennales, the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, and Habitat III.
Greg is a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, and has advised Intel, Samsung, Starbucks, Audi, Chrysler, Hyundai, Tishman Speyer, British Land, André Balazs Properties, Emaar, Aldar, and Expo 2020, among many other organizations. He was the inaugural urbanist-in-residence at URBAN-X — BMW MINI’s urban tech accelerator.
Greg’s presentation from the 2019 VCU Real Estate Trends Conference is available by request for attendees of the event only. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.
Keynote Speaker: Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D.
Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. is a nationally acclaimed economist and public speaker specializing in making economics fun, relevant and educational. Dr. Eisenberg earned a B.A. in economics with first class honors from McGill University in Montreal, as well as a Master and Ph.D. in public administration from Syracuse University. Eisenberg is the Chief Economist for GraphsandLaughs, LLC, an economic consultancy that serves a variety of clients across the United States. He writes a syndicated column and authors a daily 70-word commentary on the economy that is available at www.econ70.com.
Dr. Eisenberg has spoken to hundreds of business groups and associations, often as keynote speaker on topics including economic forecasts, economic impact of industries such as homebuilding and tourism, consequences of government regulation, strategic business development, and other current economic issues. Dr. Eisenberg has been invited to testify before lawmakers and is often asked to comment on proposed legislation. His research and opinions have been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Bureau of National Affairs, Forbes, Fortune, and many other publications. He is a regularly featured guest on cable news programs, talk, and public radio.
Dr. Eisenberg was formerly a Senior Economist with the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C. He is the creator of the multifamily stock index (the first nationally recognized index to track the total return of public firms principally involved in the ownership and management of apartments), the author of more than ninety-five articles, serves on the Expert Advisory Board of Mortgage Market Guide and is a regular consultant to several large real estate professional associations, hedge funds and investment advisory groups.
Elliot’s interests include keeping the rate of restoration of his 65-year-old house ahead of its rate of deterioration and doting on his daughter. He loves ice hockey and talking economics with crowds large and small!
Real Estate Keynote Speaker: Steve Weikal
Steve Weikal is Head of Industry Relations at the MIT Center for Real Estate, responsible for managing relationships between the Center and its global network of industry partners and nearly 1100 alumni of the MIT Master’s in Real Estate Development (MSRED) program, in 43 countries. He is also a lecturer and researcher, focused on innovative new technology and business models that disrupt the traditional ways of developing, transacting and managing real estate.
Steve is the Founder of MIT Real Disruption, a successful series of conferences discussing the impact of emerging technology on the real estate industry, and he sits on the advisory boards of three real estate technology start-ups. Steve has spoken extensively about real estate disruption at conferences for AFIRE, IREM, SIOR, CCIM, CoreNet, and BOMA, and has been quoted by numerous media outlets, including BuzzFeed, TechInsider, the Boston Globe, GlobeSt. the Real Reporter, and Anuario Inmobiliario LatinoAmerica.
Steve holds a Master’s of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) and Master’s in City Planning (MCP) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a law degree from Suffolk University Law School. He is a licensed attorney, a licensed real estate broker, and a LEED Accredited Professional.
Prior to his position at the MIT Center for Real Estate, Steve was Vice President of NOW Communities, a Concord, MA-based developer of new residential neighborhoods that merge the best of traditional design with 21st-century energy technology. Before graduate school, Steve was National Media Tour Producer for Martin Scorses’s The Blues, for WGBH Boston, was Manager of Partner Acquisition at Curl, a VC funded tech start-up launched to commercialize a new coding language developed at the MIT Lab for Computer Science (LCS), and was a Founding Partner
of Sonoma Coast Vineyards, maker of award-winning Pinot Noir from the Extreme Sonoma Coast of California. He began his real estate career restoring and redeveloping historic theaters in Detroit’s Fox Center entertainment district.
2023 Conference Committee
- Kim Kacani
- Andy Little
John B. Levy & Company, Inc.
- Dave Auman
- Liz Steele
- Ashley Peace
Lunch Sessions Chair
- Trib Sutton
Divaris Real Estate
Student Engagement Chair
- Monique Johnson
The Shopping Center Group
Divaris Real Estate
Robert L. Cowgill
South State Bank
Holly Law Eve
Better Housing Coalition
The Wilton Companies
E. Duffy Myrtetus
Eckert Seasmans Cherin & Mellott, LLC
SL Nusbaum Realty Co.
Atlantic Real Estate Capital
Divaris Real Estate
Dixon Wallace, Jr.
Atlantic Union Bank and Trust
Capital Square 1031
Lingerfelt Commonwealth Partners