ULI Los Angeles: YLG Learn from the Best


Wednesday, December 9th, 2020
5:30pm - 7:15pm PST




Standard Pricing Until December 9 Members Non-Members
Private $20.00 $30.00
Public/Academic/Nonprofit $15.00 $20.00
Retired $20.00 N/A
Under Age 35 $15.00 $20.00

JOIN ULI’S YOUNG LEADERS GROUP for the 4th annual Learn from the Best event, featuring an all-star mentor lineup of 13 of LA’s top real estate pros from a variety of industry segments, as well as some real estate pros from elsewhere around the country. The premise is simple: Put Young Leaders and top real estate experts into Zoom rooms, and let each mentor lead the discussion around such topics as career advice, the state of the industry, tricks of the trade, life advice, insights on the recession, and much, much more. 

During the program, Young Leaders will be exposed to a broad mixture of professional insights by rotating between up to three different industry professionals. The result is an insightful and rewarding experience, which will enable the next generation of real estate professionals to inquire, learn, and grow with help from industry leaders who have paved their own road to success. 

 IMPORTANT: Please note that a Google Survey for mentor preference will be provided to registrants on November 30th and must be submitted by December 2nd. Mentor preference is first come first serve.

Please scroll using the green arrows to see more mentors. 



Amy Pokawatana

Director, Development, Hudson Pacific Properties

Amy Pokawatana serves as Director of Development at Hudson Pacific Properties and oversees the development, design and construction of multiple commercial office buildings ranging from redevelopment to new construction in Southern California. Ms. Pokawatana has over 20 years of architecture and construction experience which includes commercial office buildings and higher education projects. She is currently working on the conversion of over half a million square feet of retail into creative office at Westside Pavilion which will be the future home of Google.   Prior to joining Hudson Pacific Properties, Ms. Pokawatana was a Senior Associate / Project Manager for the Commercial Office Buildings and Media & Technology studios at Gensler focusing on Class A office buildings and creative office workplace for Media & Technology clients. She managed projects such as the ICON and CUE creative office buildings at Sunset Bronson Studios, EPIC office building, Time Warner Cable Regional Sports Network offices, IMAX headquarters and Hyundai Capital Convention Hall. Prior to coming to Gensler, she worked with Ehrlich Architects and Koning Eizenberg Architects on various commercial office buildings and higher education projects with East Los Angeles College, LA Valley College, Moorpark College and Arizona State University. Ms. Pokawatana is member of the Urban Land Institute, American Institute of Architects, NAIOP and currently serving on the Executive Committee of the University of Southern California Architectural Guild Board of Directors. Ms. Pokawatana is a licensed Architect in the state of California and a LEED Accredited Professional. She earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Southern California.


Malcom Johnson

Executive Director, Community Development Banking J.P Morgan Chase

Malcolm Johnson is a senior executive in the Commercial Real Estate group at JPMorgan Chase & Co., and leads the firm’s efforts on a new platform that deploys equity into affordable and workforce housing projects in markets across the country. He also serves as senior coverage banker for JPMorgan’s relationships with the largest national Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which are private institutions focused on community‐based lending. Johnson joined JPMorgan in 2012 as the senior coverage banker in the firm’s Real Estate Banking group in Los Angeles, where he underwrote and arranged $3B in secured and unsecured debt financing for publicly traded and privately held real estate developers and investment firms. Prior to joining JPMorgan, Johnson was a vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he led $2.6B in financings for a number of prominent Los Angeles‐based real estate companies. Previously, he worked as an internal consultant for PNC Bank on the integration of the company’s residential mortgage division. In 2015, Johnson was named one of LA’s “Most Influential Lenders” by the Los Angeles Business Journal. In 2010, he was honored with NAIOP’s “Developing Leaders” award. Prior to his banking career, Johnson played professional football with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers from 1999 – 2003. Has been a guest speaker for UCLA Anderson School of Business, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the National Football League and numerous schools and non‐profit organizations in South Central Los Angeles and his native Washington, DC. Johnson is the executive co‐sponsor for The Fellowship Initiative, JPMC’s innovative mentorship program for young men of color. He serves on JPMorgan’s Los Angeles Market Leadership Team, Sustaining Board for the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate, Board of Trustees for the Natural History Museum of LA County and the Corporate Advisory Board for The Brotherhood Crusade, a non‐profit organization supporting low‐income and underserved South LA residents. He received his MBA from Carnegie Mellon University and BBA from the University of Notre Dame. He resides in Los Angeles with his wife and their three children.


Mary Ludgin

Senior Managing Director & Director of Global Investment Research, Heitman

Mary 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.


Ricardo Pagan

Founder, Claridge Properties

Ricardo is the founder and CEO of Claridge Properties, and has over 18 years of experience acquiring, developing, and re‐positioning real estate assets nationwide. He has successfully developed or re‐positioned over 5 million square feet of assets ranging from Residential to Mix‐Use in markets including New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Miami.   Known as a visionary in the industry he has tackled some of the most complex projects in some of the Nations most complex markets including The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and The Book Tower in Detroit, The Greenpoint in New York as well as Angels Landing in Los Angeles.   Ricardo has been a frequent industry panelist and has spoken for organizations including the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Bisnow, and the Real Estate Executive Council (REEC), New York University, and the University of Southern California. He has also appeared in national publications including Crain’s Magazine, Los Angeles Times, The Detroit Free Press and Real Estate Alert. Prior to founding Claridge, Ricardo was an Analyst at Lehman Brothers, where he participated in over $2 billion in transactions. Ricardo earned an Associate Degree in Business Administration from The Catherine Gibbs School.


Meea Kang

Vice President, Related California Residential

As Senior Vice President for Related California, Ms. Kang is responsible for business development, strategic planning and creative financing mechanisms for Related’s affordable residential developments. She comes to Related with over 20 years experience in affordable housing finance and development and has entitled and constructed more than 2,500 affordable multi‐family housing units in California worth over $500 million. Ms. Kang is an expert in navigating California’s complex land use entitlement processes, forging innovative public‐private partnerships, and structuring multi‐layered financing bringing difficult projects to fruition. Prior to joining Related, Ms. Kang was President and Co‐Founder of Domus Development, LLC, where she led the company’s development activities for fifteen years. Ms. Kang’s projects have received national accolades from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, American Institute of Architects, U.S. Green Building Council, and the 2014 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, California's highest environmental honor. She has been recognized with the Sacramento CREW Nancy Hotchkiss Woman of Impact Award, Smart Growth America’s LOCUS Leadership Award, Sacramento Housing Alliance Housing Innovator of the Year Award, Northern California Real Estate Woman of Influence Award, Sacramento Business Journal Women Who Mean Business Award, and the Sierra Business Council Visionary 2020 Award. Ms. Kang serves as a Commissioner on the California Commission on Aging, appointed by Governor Brown in 2016, is a member of Lambda Alpha International and serves as a director on the boards of the California Housing Consortium, Rail~Volution, Council of Infill Builders, and the California Museum. She earned a Master of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cornell University.


Andrew McDonald

President, West Region , Cushman & Wakefield-US

Andrew R. McDonald oversees Cushman & Wakefield’s operations and service lines in local markets across the Americas. Andrew is a strong and proven leader in our firm and the industry, bringing well‐rounded knowledge of local market operations, client service and talent development.  Prior to becoming Chief Executive, Americas, Andrew successfully led Cushman & Wakefield’s Americas West region, overseeing California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Utah. Before that, he served as Executive Managing Director and Regional Managing Principal for Greater Los Angeles / Orange County. Andrew began his professional career at ASIMCO, a Beijing‐based private equity firm acquired by Bain Capital. In 1999, he returned to the U.S. to work at Cushman Realty Corporation, which merged with Cushman & Wakefield in 2001.  Andrew has been a frequent guest lecturer at The Marshall School of Business at University of Southern California. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the California Hospital Medical Center, as well as The Los Angeles Coalition, a bipartisan organization whose mission is to help create quality jobs throughout the Los Angeles Region.  


Kelly Masuda

Executive Vice president, Chief Investment Officer, Caruso Affiliated

As Executive Vice President, Chief Investment Officer, Kelly Masuda is responsible for all investment matters, including designing and implementing strategies for the company’s broadly diversified portfolio of equities, fixed income and alternatives, and managing all aspects of its property‐level and corporate‐level financings, including construction loans, permanent financings and revolving credit facilities. Masuda also serves as Chairman of the Investment Committee, which reviews all acquisition and development opportunities, and leads the company’s strategic planning process. Prior to joining Caruso, Masuda was Senior Vice President, Treasurer at KB Home, one of the largest homebuilders in the United States. For seven years, he was responsible for corporate‐wide banking and financing activities, including bank facilities, capital market transactions and project financings in addition to managing investor relations activities. Prior to KB Home, Masuda spent nearly a decade in the investment banking industry with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation and Credit Suisse First Boston Corporation, where he focused on mergers and acquisitions, and corporate finance activities in the real estate, gaming and lodging industries. Masuda serves on the Board of Trustees of the Children’s Bureau of Southern California, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree with high honors in neurobiology from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.


Paul Keller

Chairman & CEO, Mack Real Estate Development

Mr. Keller is the Vice Chairman of Mack Real Estate Group (MREG). He also serves as the Chairman of Mack Real Estate Development (MRED). He has over forty years of experience regarding credit, investment, and development in the commercial and hospitality real estate industries. Previously, he led Mack Urban LLC, Urban Partners LLC, Keller Equity Group Inc., Keller CMS Inc., and Keller Construction Company LTD. Keller‐related entities have been responsible for over 2,800 projects in the continental United States and Hawaii valued at over $17.5 billion.   Mr. Keller is highly regarded in the industry for his comprehensive grasp of asset, property and project management detail, and his ability to match capitalization, construction, marketing, leasing, and management requirements.   Among his present leadership roles, Mr. Keller is a member of Urban Land Institute (ULI) Los Angeles Advisory Board; Vice Chair of the ULI Los Angeles Land Use Leadership Committee; board member of L.A. Streetcar Inc. (LASI); board member of the DTLA South Park Business Improvement District (SPBID); board member of the Central City Association of Los Angeles (CCA); and member of The Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy & Jobs (The L.A. Coalition).   Previous leadership roles include, Chairman of Eimago (formerly Union Rescue Mission Foundation) and former Chairman of the Board of Directors, Seven Arrows Elementary School in Pacific Palisades, California. Mr. Keller attended the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.


Eric Sussman

Founding Partner, UCLA Anderson School of Management

Eric Sussman is a founding partner of Clear Capital, LLC, overseeing the firm’s capital, equity, and debt departments and strategic planning functions. Mr. Sussman provides leadership to the firm in the areas of private equity, joint ventures, and fund formations. Mr. Sussman has over 20 years of multi‐faceted real estate experience and has been pivotal in some of the firm’s largest deals and property acquisitions. Mr. Sussman’s past experience is broad and varied including key positions at Amber Capital and Sequoia Real Estate Partners. Mr. Sussman began his career with Price Waterhouse. In addition to his position at Clear Capital, Mr. Sussman has been an Adjunct Professor with UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management since 1995 where he was voted “Outstanding Professor” 15 times by MBA students. Additionally, he has been named as one of the top ten most popular business professors by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and one of the 20 most influential professors alive today by “Top Business Degrees.” Mr. Sussman received a BA in Economics (Summa Cum Laude) from the University of California, Los Angeles and an MBA (Arjay Miller Scholar) from Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a licensed CPA and real estate broker (inactive) in California. He is a member of the Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Audit Committee of Causeway Capital Group and a member of the Board of Directors for Bentley‐Forbes, LLC and Pacific Charter School.


Sara Neff

Kilroy Realty Corporation

Sara Neff is Senior Vice President, Sustainability at Kilroy Realty Corporation. Sara took Kilroy from having no sustainability program to being named the #1 publicly traded real estate company on sustainability in North America by GRESB, and under her leadership the company recently committed to becoming the first carbon neutral real estate company in North America by the end of 2020. At Kilroy, she oversees all sustainability initiatives such as solar and battery dealmaking, the implementation of energy and water efficiency initiatives throughout the existing and development portfolios, the integration of sustainability standards into annual financial reports, the launch of the Kilroy Innovation Lab, and the award-winning green leasing program. She holds a BS from Stanford and an MBA from Columbia Business School.


Larry Grantham

Co-Founder, Calmwater Capital

Larry Grantham is a founder and Managing Principal of Calmwater Capital responsible for overseeing the originations, underwriting and asset management of the firm.  He is a member of its Executive and Investment Committees and has led the firm’s real estate transactions in excess of $2.7B.  Mr. Grantham has 20+ years of experience in commercial real estate and structured finance.  Prior to the inception of the Firm in 2015, he launched and managed the $1B real estate lending platform for Karlin Asset Management since 2010.  Previously, he was a director of a credit joint venture funded by Fortress Investment Group, responsible for sourcing, underwriting, and executing investments, including loan originations and purchases of non‐performing loans secured by real estate and corporate assets.   Over his career, Mr. Grantham was a principal with East Hill Management in Boston and a principal with Cypress Tree Investment Management, an early CLO manager, helping the company grow from $500 million to $3+ billion in assets under management. He is a member of the California Mortgage Bankers Association, CRE Financial Counsel, Crittenden, Urban Land Institute and the Pension Real Estate Association. Mr. Grantham is also a frequent speaker and panelist at real estate conferences and events across the West Coast.    Mr. Grantham received a B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University.


Karin Liljegren

Principal + Founder, Architect, Omgivning

Karin Liljegren is a recognized leader of downtown Los Angeles’s urban revitalization. Her mission is to breathe new life into existing buildings. Karin founded Omgivning in 2009. Omgivning is an integrated Architecture and Interiors firm, has a staff of 40 that has touched 350 buildings from small local cafes to a two‐million square foot historic landmark and has become a leader in adaptive reuse of existing/historic structures in Los Angeles. Karin is a creative visionary with roots in practicality and strategy. She is heavily involved in real estate by finding new opportunities for redevelopment and instigating ideas for new value in existing properties. Karin's approach to successful projects is thinking macro to micro: connecting both the human and the building to the community/neighborhood and design down to the personal human experience within a space. This integrated approach creates an elevated user experience and creates a more financially successful project. In addition to her Architecture + Interiors firm, Karin is involved in some real estate development projects. She also co‐founded Omillume, a light fixture company that designs, manufactures and distributes. She spearheads task force groups and committees, such as working with LA City Agencies for change in policies to incentivize development. She is passionate about "human design" and creating spaces that improve our wellbeing. She is exploring mind/body awakening. She is a NJ native of Swedish ancestry, single mom of a teenager, Pug and a big old hairy cat.


Jacqueline Denning

Managing Director, MetLife

Jacqueline Denning is Managing Director and Head of the Los Angeles Regional Office for MetLife Real Estate. Ms. Denning is responsible for the $9 billion debt and equity real estate operations and investments in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Hawaii. She oversees commercial real estate debt and equity activities, including mortgage origination, property acquisitions and dispositions, asset management and joint venture investments. During Ms. Denning’s eleven year tenure at MetLife, she originated over $1 billion in commercial mortgages as well as capital market transactions and acquired over $700 million in real estate assets. During Ms. Denning’s 25‐year career in commercial real estate, she has worked in various management and origination capacities at New York Life Investment Management, CapMark (formerly GMAC) and Ernst & Young. She is a past president of the Bay Area Mortgage Bankers Association and former board member to the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of NAIOP. Ms. Denning has a BS in real estate, finance and law from California Polytechnic University in Southern California.