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Mortgage Professional America: Graduates work toward affordable housing

February 14, 2023

USC Lusk Center for Real Estate celebrates 30 years in its mission

Thirty (30) years after launching its mission centered on affordable housing, the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate announced the graduation of 18 new graduates for its 2023 winter sessions.

Since its launch in 1993, the program has graduated over 1,000 students and remains a pivotal academic asset to equip professionals with real estate development and finance skills, officials said.  

“Through rigorous curriculum and real-world case studies, the Ross Program prepares real estate professionals with the next steps they need to advance their career or upskill their talents in real estate finance and development,” Richard K. Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, who oversees the Ross Program said. “Program graduates leave with a very practical skill set.” 

History rooted in injustice

After the Rodney King verdict and the civil unrest that followed in 1992, USC and the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA) recognized the unprecedented and immediate need for experienced real estate professionals to aid in the rebuilding parts of South Los Angeles. At the time, CRA found a lack of minority developers and joined with community leaders and USC to create a program to help foster diverse talent in real estate development. 

The name Ross honors the late Stan Ross, a well-known icon in the accounting and real estate industry responsible for funding the program’s endowment and an outspoken role model in the industry for students and professionals alike.

Students rewarded with skills

The following graduates for the 2023 winter session received the crucial skills to navigate affordable housing, office, retail and mixed-use spaces:

  • Violeta Aguilar-Wyrick, founder and principal of Xara Public Affairs;

  • Emmanuel Choice, senior asset manager of Decro Corp.;

  • Matej Dlabal, architectural designer for ZGF;

  • Greg Elliott, president of Anderson Howard;

  • Hugo Escalante, real estate broker and broker associate for RE/MAX Top Producers;

  • Alexander Fung, senior management analyst for the City of Eastvale’

  • Armida Garcia, real property coordinator of the Los Angeles County Development Authority; 

  • Landy Joseph, project manager for West Hollywood Community Housing Corp.;

  • Kevin Lee, library district director of the Banning Library District;

  • Maricela Marquez, community development analyst for the City of Santa Ana;

  • Pauline Martinez, administrative assistant to Dr.  Manuel Castells, University Professor for the University of Southern California;

  • Luis Melo, California realtor for Solid Work Properties LLC;

  • Meredith Sharkey, management analyst for the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments / San Gabriel Valley Regional Housing Trust’

  • Rubani Shaw, production designer for IDEO;

  • Terrence Smalls, CA Realtor and founder of Reche Capital;

  • Christina Sutton (PMP, PMI-ACP), founder of  O'thentik Designs;

  • Omar Taylor, president of Nobis Management;

  • Gina Gibson-Williams, community development and public works director for the City of Eastvale;

Officials noted how the Ross Program continues to arm professionals with advanced real estate fundamentals and enables members of underrepresented groups and those that invest resources in emerging communities to further their careers. In the program’s 2023 winter session, 38% of graduates were Black, nearly half were women and about 33% were Hispanic. 

The original story can be found here.