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Spring 2020 WREAA Update

Posted By Mandy Kaegy, Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association, Inc., Wednesday, March 18, 2020


A Message from WREAA President

Jim Roemer (BBA 1987)

Dear Fellow Alumni and Friends,

A week or so ago as I sat down to write this letter and Milwaukee was enjoying its first 60 degree day in months, Christian Yelich had just signed a contract extension that pretty much makes him a Brewer for life, and Greg Gard and his resilient Badgers had accomplished the improbable and secured the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tourney, my worldview, probably like yours, was far different than it is today.  

Today Coronavirus, related market madness, and uncertainty dominate the news and color our view of reality and expectations for the future.  They will likely continue to do so until our collective effort to combat the virus has achieved a good measure of success and is leading us back toward normalcy.  I believe we will get there, together, and am therefore determined to remain optimistic in the days ahead.  I hope you will too.  Our families, coworkers, friends, and neighbors will be the better for it!

In the spirit of looking forward, optimistically, let me share with you some of the recent successes and promising initiatives and events of our alumni association and our favorite real estate program.  Please read on.  

Last September co-chairs Michael Zelin and Jaime Fink teamed with Chris Dicks and our WREAA staff to deliver a hugely successful Trends Conference in Chicago.  Record attendance affirmed that A) we continue to deliver strong content and productive opportunities to reconnect and network and B) the Program and our industry are in good shape.


  • Plans for our September Biennial in Madison are coming together nicely.
  • Keynote speakers Richard Barkham (CBRE global economist) and Marcus Lemonis (The Profit) will share their impactful economic and business perspectives. 
  • Ed St. John of Baltimore-based and 2018 NAIOP Developer of the Year, St. John Properties will accept the Wisconsin Award. 
  • Principals of the Bascom Group, who are celebrating 25 years in business, are excited to join us to accept the Distinguished Alumni Award.
  • Panels are being assembled to discuss A) the effect of climate change on commercial real estate, B) big data and tech in commercial real estate, C) outside investors’ perspective on commercial real estate, and D) workforce and affordable housing. And for some fun, nationally acclaimed political satirists The Capitol Steps will perform after dinner on Thursday night.


Don’t delay in registering for the Biennial.  We welcomed a record 550+ alumni and friends in 2018;  we look forward to equal or greater attendance this year!

PE Fund
As Department Chair Tim Riddiough and the Graaskamp Center’s Mark Eppli, Greg Reed, and Mike Brennan work to boost graduate enrollment and build the academic structure and curriculum for the PE track of the MS that is to kick off this fall, WREAA is simultaneously creating the PE fund that will enable our students to apply in a very real way what they are learning inside Grainger.


  • With excellent counsel provided by Milwaukee’s Reinhart Boerner, we are close to finishing the fund limited partnership agreement, subscription agreement, and private placement memo.
  • We have reached agreement in principal for a partnership with CliftonLarsonAllen (“CLA”) whereby CLA will provide discounted fund accounting and advisory services in exchange for the benefits of WREAA membership and exposure.  Importantly, we and CLA both believe that the synergies, connectivity, and work product delivered by our partnership will benefit not only ourselves, the Program, and our students, but also ultimately other academic departments in the School of Business and their students (accounting and marketing readily come to mind) and even the UW itself.
  • We have identified 5 individuals who will comprise the fund general partner’s board when elected by the WREAA board.
  • We have begun assembling what we expect to be a 7 to 9-person fund investment committee.  This committee will be elected by the fund general partner board.
  • Before long we will begin offering investments in the fund to accredited investors.

Executive Committee
At our late-March meeting in Miami, the board elected the following directors to serve on the executive committee for 2-year terms beginning in September:

  • Cody Langeness of Red Stone Partners (President)
  • Michael Zelin of Cushman & Wakefield (Vice President – Finance)
  • Katie Bergen of Everwest Real Estate Partners (Vice President – Programs)

Continuing Our Mission
WREAA is accomplishing great things for the Program, our students, and our members!

  • Our work to create the PE fund evidences our commitment to helping the Program differentiate itself from other top-flight real estate programs around the country and around the globe.  Our goal is to help create a program that is the industry thought-leader, offers real estate solutions to some of the world’s problems, and whose students are sought after for not only their real estate knowledge, but also their character. 
  • We played a significant role in bringing Mark Eppli back to Madison, and we entered into a multi-year agreement, including financial support, so that the Program and our students continue (for a long time) to benefit from Mark’s expertise, practical and engaging style, and extensive connections in the industry.
  • We continue to advocate for a curriculum and faculty that prepare our students to meet the needs of employers their very first day on the job.
  • We contribute funds to facilitate, and we help organize, frequent student-alumni interaction and market tours.
  • We provide faculty financial support and student scholarships.
  • We plan and deliver periodic regional events, the Trends Conference, and the Biennial so that our members can not only stay informed and connected, but also build new and productive relationships.

We Need Your Support
To insure that WREAA has the financial resources to continue this impactful work, please become a member, renew your membership (or become a “Cornerstone” or “Sustaining” member!), attend the Biennial, become an alumni partner (details coming soon), ask your employer to partner with us or sponsor the upcoming Biennial, and|or make a contribution to the Wisconsin Connection Fund.

We look forward to seeing you in September!

Ontimistically Wisconsin!






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