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2019 Summer Alumni Profiles

Elizabeth Cobb
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Elizabeth Cobb

As Vice President of Land Development for Shea Properties, Ms. Cobb’s responsibilities include planning and program development for a wide range of projects located throughout California and Seattle, Washington. She has specific expertise in the fields of policy planning, land planning, transportation planning and affordable housing.

While at Shea Properties, Ms. Cobb has been instrumental in the development of several multifamily and mixed-use communities throughout California including Ascent in San Jose, Ilara in Milpitas, Vantis in Aliso Viejo, Alhambra Place in Alhambra, Eden Shores Industrial in Hayward, Bressi Ranch in Carlsbad, and industrial parks in Santa Ana, Corona and Norco. Currently, Ms. Cobb is working on the planning and entitlement of an 80-acre mixed-use master plan within the City of Dublin. Ms. Cobb is also working on the development of the company’s first properties in the state of Washington.

Prior to joining Shea Properties, Ms. Cobb was a Senior Associate with RBF Consulting in Irvine, California. While at RBF, she specialized in the development of master plans, general plans, subdivision processing, environmental analyses and project site design. In addition to her work in the private sector, Ms. Cobb worked for the City of Irvine, focusing on the areas of Current and Advanced Planning and Transportation Planning where she was responsible for providing technical and analytical review of major development projects.

Ms. Cobb earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Planning and Design through the School of Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine. She is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), American Planning Association (APA), and has served as Publications Director for the APA’s Orange County Chapter. She is also a member of Urban Land Institute (ULI), and served as Vice Chair of Places of Commerce Initiative Council.

Email: elizabeth.cobb@sheaproperties.com

PJ Gagajena
2019 Summer Class Alumni
PJ Gagajena

PJ Gagajena is the Administrative Services Manager for the City of Indio, California. He supports the Economic Development Department and has been involved in real estate projects related to hotel construction, commercial and industrial development, college campus expansion, and downtown revitalization. He previously supported the City Manager’s Office to implement the city’s strategic plans, manage legislative affairs, oversee the City Clerk’s Office, and operate the Indio Performing Arts Center.

PJ has worked in state and local government since 1999. He began his career working in the Mayor’s Office in New York City and then served as an aide to former California State Assembly Member George Nakano. He spent 11-years working for the City of Los Angeles and specialized in budget, human resources, performance management, urban planning, sustainability, and community relations. PJ also taught at El Camino College in Torrance, California as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science for nearly a decade.

PJ acquired master’s degrees in Public Policy and Urban Planning from Harvard University where he served as Co-Editor of the Asian American Policy Review. He graduated with honors from the University of California, Los Angeles where he acquired a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and served as Internal Vice President of the Undergraduate Students Association Council. PJ is a graduate of the Public Policy and International Affairs Program, and New York City Urban Fellows Program.

PJ is a member of the California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED), International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), International City/County Management Association (ICMA), Municipal Management Association of Southern California (MMASC), and International Network of Asian Pacific Administrators (I-NAPA). He was selected by Cal-ICMA as a scholarship award winner to attend its West Coast Regional Conference in 2019 and will be a part of CALED’s inaugural Advanced Institute program to become an Accredited California Economic Developer.

Upon completion of USC’s Ross Minority Program in Real Estate, PJ plans to continue working to create livable communities, improve people’s lives, and develop the next generation of public service leaders. PJ lives in La Quinta, California, and grew up in Torrance, California.

Email: pgagajena@indio.org

Quinn Green
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Quinn Green

Quinn Green is an Associate Broker and REALTOR ®/Real Estate Advisor with Century 21 Connect Realty in Roswell, GA. He is a graduate of Georgia State University (GSU) where he earned a BBA in Management and Marketing, with a concentration in Real Estate Development. During his tenure at GSU he worked on a tax credit senior housing projects through a cooperative learning program with H.J. Russell & Company. He received a scholarship following his completion of this program that was used to obtain his Georgia real estate agent license (2003).

Quinn has since worked with multiple privately owned residential real estate brokerages, including a Coldwell Banker franchise in Decatur/Stone Mountain and Southern REO in Roswell, GA. In addition to working in transaction sales with the Resale Division of Southern REO, he also worked with a sister company called House Connect (which was consolidated into a Century 21 Connect Realty franchise in 2015). His specialty is working with owner occupants and investors to acquire new construction, resale, and distressed asset properties (single and multi-family).

Quinn holds a real estate Brokers license and is a graduate of REAP (Real Estate Associates Program) Atlanta, the Leadership Academy (DeKalb Association of Realtors and Georgia Association of Realtors), Leadership DeKalb (c/o 2017), Leadership Buckhead (c/o 2018), Economic Development Fellow Program for DeKalb County, Small-Scale Property Redevelopment Community Builders Program (Invest Atlanta), and Center for Leadership (CFL) for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) – Atlanta. He has also served as President of the DeKalb Association of REALTORS (2017).

Professionally Quinn is a Planning Director for REAP (Real Estate Associate Program) Atlanta, State Director of the Georgia Association of REALTORS (GAR), Board of Director for the DeKalb Association of REALTORS (DAR), Empire Board of Realtist (EBR) Commercial Real Estate Council member, and Superintendent Advisory Committee member for the DeKalb County School District B.

Email: quinng@c21connectrealty.com

Emmit Hayes
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Emmitt Hayes

Emmitt Hayes is a Broker and owner of Hayes Realty, a full service real estate company servicing Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Emmitt is one of two principal investors with So Southwest Holdings LLC, focusing on purchasing, rehabbing homes and then selling to first time homebuyers.

Prior to starting his own Realty and Investment Company, Emmitt was employed at JP Morgan Chase as Operation Specialist in the foreclosure Department. During his tenure with Chase, Emmitt authored the procedures for the Departmental Foreclosure processes.

Emmitt earned his real estate license in 2005 and began purchasing homes to rehab and resale. Then in 2007 began working as a real estate agent for Century 21 Excellence. Emmitt earned his Broker’s License in 2011 and opened Hayes Realty in 2014.

In 2002, Emmitt graduated from Park University located in Parkville, MO with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Finance. While attending Park, Emmitt received the Arthur Ashe award for exceptional academics while excelling in athletics.

Emmitt continues to buy and rehab houses while helping first time homebuyers find their dream homes. Emmitt also speaks at first time homebuyer workshops instructing potential homebuyers on the process of purchasing a home along with the ups and downs of the home buying process.

Emmitt’s goals after completion of the Ross Minority Program are to partner with an experienced developer, initiate and complete mixed-use development projects, build lasting relationships with like-minded people, and develop a mentor-training program to support minorities wanting to become real estate professionals.

Emmitt Hayes resides in Redondo Beach, CA.

Email: emmitt@hayesrealtyla.com

 

Dionyá Jackson
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Dionyá Jackson

Dionyá Jackson is currently a multi-family and residential realtor at Keller Williams Realty.

Jackson studied Business Marketing at Arizona State University. Prior to working at Keller Williams, Jackson performed data entry for Holst Brother’s, Inc. general contractors. Additionally, Jackson worked as an intern for Regina Vannicola. Jackson is well versed in the field of multi-family investing real estate market. Jackson epitomizes integrity, dedication, enthusiasm, and customer service in every aspect of your real estate transaction.

She is a member of The NCREA, Career Compass, Beverly Hills Commercial Board, Commercial Appliance, and YPN Southwest.

Jackson is also the co-founder of a non-profit titled, “The Impact Project,” where she helps serve over 500 families and children from underserved communities in the greater Los Angeles area. Jackson currently lives in Los Angeles.

Email: jacksondionya@gmail.com

Celeste Lawson
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Celeste Lawson

Celeste Lawson is a Real Estate Developer with passion for education, and a profound interest in city renewal and redevelopment projects in blighted and impoverished inner-city areas. Ms. Lawson has over 20 consecutive years, both personally and professionally in the real estate industry.

Celeste launched The Lawson Business Group, LTD, a boutique real estate firm, in 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. She represents her firm as a Consultant, General Contractor, and Project Manager. By early fall, The Lawson Business Group, LTD will officially be certified as an MBE, FBE, DBE, and EDGE business with both the City of Cleveland and State of Ohio.

Ms. Lawson has received a Master’s in Business Administration (2016) and Masters in Urban Planning and Development (2017) from Cleveland State University. While attending her MBA program in 2015, Celeste had the opportunity to study abroad in London, England and Demark, Copenhagen. While abroad, Celeste was able to learn an international aspect of finance, purchasing of real estate, marketing and how international business with the United States is handled. In 2017, Celeste took another opportunity to study abroad and travel to Israel. While there she was exposed to Israel’s culture as it pertained to real estate development, and entrepreneurship. This is where Celeste found a sence of renewal, inspiration and a determination to take her company to the next level, while also providing families an opportunity for homeownership on an affordable basis.

Recently, Celeste was chosen to be amongst a small group of minority contractors to revitalize and rehabilitate vacant and abandoned homes in opportunity zones throughout the city of Cleveland, Ohio. Celeste has also taken the necessary steps to become a Lead Abatement Contractor to combat the devastation caused by lead paint related to small children and the aging population in the Cleveland, Ohio area. She has made it her goal to ensure every rehabilitation and or renovation project she does is fully abated according to the Ohio EPA standards.

As a 2015 graduate of the REAP Program, a real estate program whose primary focus is to assist minorities in breaking into commercial real estate, Celeste adapted a passion for commercial real estate and a mission to offer top-notch Real Estate services, while also putting her client’s needs at the forefront of her overall business. Ms. Lawson also completed the Turner Construction School of Management in May 2019.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Ms. Lawson has been surrounded by real estate professionals since infancy and comes from a family with a history of real estate property ownership. Celeste hopes to use the education she receives with the Ross Minority Program to create green and sustainable, but also affordable projects that will greatly impact her city.

Email: Celeste@lawsongroup.ltd.com

 

Linda E. Lopez
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Linda Lopez

Linda is an established Real Estate Broker and driven businesswoman, with nineteen continuous years of providing personalized service for the buying, selling and investment of real estate. Linda’s original entry into Real Estate came from her desire to build a ground-up business founded on hard work, creativity and the highest standards of professionalism. As a second-generation Real Estate professional, Linda is recognized as a top agent and represents a 30-year plus referral base. A dependable and excellent negotiator, Linda’s unique eye for quality in design, location, and architecture has led her clients and investors to purchase distinctive properties in Los Angeles.

Linda’s approach to real estate opportunities emphasizes strong analytical and communication skills, and integrates a wide variety of business leadership experiences. In such an evolving and demanding market as Real Estate, this approach has brought her tremendous success in securing clients investment properties and commercial spaces that as a result of expansions projects have netted an average of 30% increase in rents. She continuously achieves best client satisfaction ratings (99.16%) according to homeowner surveys.

Additionally, Linda has worked diligently to build her own real estate portfolio. Prior to embarking in a Real Estate career, Linda worked at IBM for many years in technical marketing and sales. Moreover, Linda grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico and in Southern California, graduating from Cal Poly Pomona University with a degree in Marketing. Through the Ross Minority Program in Real Estate, Linda is eager to create inroads for leadership roles in the industry, and as a result establish a broader network in the community.

Email: lindaelopez@hotmail.com

 

 

Cesar Pacheco-Garcia
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Cesar Pacheco-Garcia

Cesar Pacheco-Garcia is a real estate agent who works for a developer based in Beverly Hills with a mission to build more practical and affordable multifamily housing units across the Greater Los Angeles MSA and specifically along urban in-fill. He focuses on finding Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC) properties, locating and connecting with owners through traditional and creative means, and finally negotiating with these owners to sell or participate in joint-ventures by putting up their land at a predetermined cost basis.

Before this role, Cesar interned at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Brentwood where he focused on researching the Santa Monica Seismic retrofit program. He also worked briefly for a small residential investment firm based in Burbank, CA that focused on flipping homes in the Los Angeles Area.

He received a Bachelor’s Degree of Arts in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. During his time at UCLA and while he was member of the Bruin Real Estate Association, he enrolled in the real estate financial modeling (REFM) training course with the UCLA Anderson Real Estate Association (AREA).  Since graduating in June 2018, he has completed Real Estate Market Analysis and Using ARGUS and Spreadsheet programs for Commercial Real Estate Analysis through UCLA Extension.

He is a member of UCLA Bruin Professionals, the UCLA Real Estate Alumni Group, the West Los Angeles Chancellor’s Society and the UCLA Latino Alumni Association as well as a Blue Member of the UCLA Alumni Association.

Mr. Pacheco’s most notable achievement includes putting together a $7 MM transaction. Currently, Cesar is working on an assemblage that will yield 40+ apartment units.

His most immediate goal is to keep enhancing his real estate acquisitions expertise and to sharpen his real estate acumen in order to propel him towards achieving his goals within the industry. His long-term goal is to keep gaining experience in real estate finance and development roles. Cesar hopes to one day build different product types across inner cities in SoCal and the Central Valley that are affordable multi-family housing as he believes that they will improve the lives of those who need the most help.

Cesar resides in Westwood, CA and grew up in Fresno, CA.

Email: cesarpacheco@kw.com

Sharron St. John
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Sharron St. John

Sharron St. John is a Relator at Keller Williams Realty Westside. From high-profile individuals to local landlords and tenants, Sharron St. John serves her clients as an experienced Realtor and investor.

Prior to working in Real Estate, Sharron was managing a $3M marketing budget at CallFire, a late-stage tech startup in Santa Monica. Sharron developed a tireless work ethic at UCLA where she earned her Bachelor's Degree in 2012. Sharron established her career at Keller Williams Realty in Brentwood, working there for two years under the mega agent, Michael Rodgers. Sharron has cultivated a deep commitment to serving her community since first transitioning to Real Estate, and jumped into service immediately by leading several large-scale KW Red Day volunteer events. In 2016,

Sharron was awarded the Cultural Icon Award from KW for her leadership and volunteer efforts to give back to the community. Now based in Westwood, she enjoys building her Real Estate brand as she prepares to transition to her own brokerage, St. John Estates.

Sharron spends her spare time mentoring young women and current UCLA students, and is a published contributor for Inman News. Sharron St. John lives in Los Angeles.

Email: sharron@kw.com

 

 

 

Sasha Werblin
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Sasha Werblin

Sasha Werblin currently works as a Special Projects Manager on the Executive Staff Team at Self-Help Federal Credit Union, a community development financial institution with 17 branches across California. As a member of the Executive Staff Team, Sasha has worked on cross-functional teams and led a variety of projects from producing a video highlighting the history and impact of the West Oakland branch to updating the credit union’s checking account products in California and Illinois. She was recently assigned to help build Self-Help’s California real estate development strategy and team. In this new capacity, Sasha manages Self-Help’s first two real estate projects in Modesto and Oakland. Both projects will install a new flagship branch, credit union office space, a community center, and fair market office space for non-profits.

Prior to joining Self-Help, Sasha directed the economic equity program at the Greenlining Institute. In this role, Sasha was the bridge between local constituents, banks, and national policymakers toward improving access to credit and supplier contracts for minority businesses, people of color, and low-wealth individuals. She did this through organizing, facilitating, and advocating to collect market intelligence, communicate systemic barriers, and methodically address these complex issues to reach solid, sustainable solutions.

Sasha is an advocate at heart. She takes her commitment to overcoming systemic inequities to every institution and project in which she invests. Given the ebb and flow of the real estate market and its impact on pricing, and therefore access to office space and housing—it was important that she shift her lens to this critical industry. She is especially interested in how urban planning, development, and real estate drive much of our economy and our lived experiences. She understands that the impact of these drivers often depend on who is, and perhaps more importantly, who is not, at the table.

Sasha is a Board Member of the Oakland Community Land Trust, the Greenlining Institute and Chairs the Greenlining Academy Alumni Association. She received her BA in Sociology and Psychology from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and is an MBA candidate at Mills College in Oakland California.

Sasha is proud Oakland native who still lives, works, and worships in her hometown. She enjoys estate sales, thrifting, and exploring the beauty that is California.

Email: swerblin@self-helpfcu.org

 

 

 

Myesha White-Taylor
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Myesha White-Taylor

Myesha White-Taylor  serves as Director of Acquisition/Resources for New Congregational and Xpand CDC. Myesha White-Taylor has over 25 years of service to her community. She serves as coordinator for a community resource fair “Unity in Our Community”. Myesha has been fundamental in a single and multi-family building project of 54 units in partnership with Investors Realty Partners. The development is expected to begin housing families in 2020. Project Xpand Hope is designed to bring hope and healing to her Los Angeles community. Her education background is in the area of business and child development.

Myesha has always believed in service and helping her community. Myesha began her service at the age of ten and became an entrepreneur at the age of fifteen. She serves as Leader to women, and teaches a weekly Effective Living workshop. This woman of purpose has strong  interpersonal skills, resulting in exceptional rapport with people. Myesha deals professionally, tactfully, and courteously with people in a variety of circumstances. She has personal motivation, with proven ability to build; work collaboratively within a team, and independently.

Knowing she was here to make a difference, she can only look at advancement.  Myesha has a certificate of completion for Financial Literacy-USC, Skill Builders Conference-West Ed, Early Head Start Conference, multiple areas of Early Intervention, and Getting to Know You- El Camino Compton College. Myesha is a woman committed to make a difference..

Myesha is a wife and mother to three precious and precocious young men.

Email: myeshawt1@gmail.com

Qiuana Williams
2019 Summer Class Alumni
Qiuana Williams

Qiuana Williams is an experienced public servant skilled in long range policy planning, transportation planning, land use entitlements, community outreach and project management. Williams currently serves as a project planner in the Expedited Processing Section (EPS) of the City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning. In her current role, Williams works to provide the public with a faster alternative for processing entitlement applications, supporting the City’s objectives to promote development that enhances the built environment. Prior to her role in EPS, Williams focused on long range transportation and infrastructure planning to create and implement plans, policies and programs that help to realize a vision of Los Angeles based on a foundation of mobility, economic vitality and improved quality of life for all residents.

Williams’ career in public service spans 10 years and also includes a role as program manager of the Great Streets Challenge, a program of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative to envision, collaborate on, and build transformative street infrastructure projects while building strong partnerships between communities and the City of Los Angeles. Prior to joining the City of Los Angeles, Williams worked for Jerome E. Horton, Chairman Emeritus of the State Board of Equalization as the regional outreach stakeholder manager and Assembly Member Warren T. Furutani (ret) as a field deputy.

Williams is the owner of SIQ Investments, LLC, and the vehicle in which she intends to pursue a variety of land and real estate development projects, and is a member of the American Planning Association (APA). Williams previously served as a 2019 delegate representing Southern California at the 2019 American Planning Association National Conference, a Commissioner for the City of Carson Women’s Issues Commission, and Committee Member for the Clean Power Alliance Community Advisory Committee (CPA) representing the South Bay sub-region.

Born and raised in the South Bay, Williams completed her master’s degree in City and Regional Planning at Cardiff University in Cardiff, Wales, UK, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business: Finance, Real-Estate and Law from California State University, Long Beach, and a certificate in Leadership and Public Policy Analysis from the Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute.

Email: qiuana.williams@lacity.org