CCIM Spotlight: Come Together
A CCIM works to open doors for minorities in the industry.
A. Smith, CCIM, CRB, president of Metropolitan Realty Group in Vienna, Va.,
teamed up with several CCIM leaders and staff members to create the CCIM
Institute's Cultural Diversity Education Program in 2002. The impetus was to
work toward increasing the number of minority professionals in the commercial
real estate industry. "Quality commercial real estate education is an
effective equalizer, and it can provide an essential competitive advantage for
minorities who enter the commercial real estate arena," Smith says. Smith
and his colleagues knew that a diversity program was needed to help open the
doors to the commercial real estate industry for minorities. The program is one
of the few industry efforts directed toward this goal.
institute funding, Smith was able to offer the CI Intro course free of charge
to minority participants. In accordance with the National Association of
Realtors' guidelines, the program is open to men and women who are
African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, and Native American real estate
students complete this course, they can take the remaining core CCIM courses at
their own pace until they complete the designation course requirements, Smith
explains. "If minorities come to the real estate employment table with
what is recognized as the best commercial real estate education within the
industry, they will significantly enhance their employment prospects," he says.
To date, more than 550 minority members have participated in the program and
many have gone on to become designees and be employed by large national
companies. Diversity program participant Karen Drake, CCIM, became a real
estate manager with Wal-Mart Stores in Decatur, Ga., while one of Smith's first Houston CDEP students,
Edward Nwokedi, CCIM, went on to head the apartment division of Cushman &
Wakefield in Houston.
Smith notes that Nwokedi credits the institute and CDEP for providing him with
the confidence and resources to pursue this career path.
from students moving into positions with large companies, Smith really saw how
well the program was working about two years ago on a flight from Chicago. While reading a Florida business
publication, he realized that the subject of the article was one of his former
students. The student had gone on to become the vice president of economic
development for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Because of this article,
Smith contacted the student and generated an ongoing friendship that has helped
to make Smith's recent transition into investing in the Tampa market go more smoothly.
initially helped start this program to make changes and provide opportunities
to minorities, but he soon realized he also wanted to give something back to
the institute. He finds it satisfying to see CDEP students achieve such a high point of education,
he says. It also is rewarding because these individuals have advanced their
careers, adding themselves to the large networking pool of commercial real
program has given minorities more opportunities in commercial real estate while
also providing a web of contacts and potential business relationships. The
program keeps attracting new members and has begun to change the
underrepresentation of minorities in the commercial real estate industry.
"The program is a work in progress and there is still much more work to be
done," Smith says.