Chapter News

CCIM San Diego’s University Outreach Program

CCIM San Diego’s University Outreach Program
Jerry Dunaway, CCIM

San Diego real estate is more than just the land and buildings in and around the county. San Diego also hosts the best and brightest universities that will feed the future of the industry for the nation and beyond. Case in point, recently reported USD’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate receiving the top ranking among 28 undergraduate RE programs across the country, as ranked by College Factual. By the shear fate of location, CCIM San Diego has the honor of partnering with our local schools to assist students with that transition from academia to industry. And as an alum of SDSU’s real estate program, now called The Corky McMillin Center for Real Estate, I personally enjoy giving back to the schools that taught me valuable career skills.

In February, I had the chance to visit with SDSU’s Real Estate Society student club to explain the CCIM designation and organization. Along with representatives from the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors, we engaged in active discussions with the students about our respective organizations and how they play into the profession of real estate. Several students were already engaged in the business and were eager for the information. In planning for the club visit, I also worked with Nick Zalkow, the club’s program coordinator and a graduating senior, to fill a case study opening they had in March. The case study was on a prior project I managed under the Navy’s Public-Private Venture Program called Pacific Beacon at Naval Base San Diego. Students got an overview of this first of its kind privatized bachelors quarters for junior enlisted Sailors. Pacific Beacon is going on its 10th year, so it was very nice to get back to see it. Lots of discussion with the students from the Navy and Clark team on the concept and development of the project and the unique management approaches for taking care of this target market, from events programming to leasing strategies, life skills education and service call response requirements. By coincidence, the case study group also got the chance to meet Leona Retzer, mother to fallen Navy SEAL Tom Retzer. One of the three Pacific Beacon buildings is named in Tom’s honor. The other two are dedicated to Matt Axelson and Danny Dietz, both were lost in the battle depicted in the movie, Lone Survivor. Tom fell in a separate conflict in Afghanistan. Tom's birthday was the next day, and Leona comes to Pacific Beacon every year to celebrate his birthday with the Sailors at Pacific Beacon. Both Tom and Matt are also SDSU alums, which added a special twist for the students as we ended the tour at Tom’s memorial in the lobby.

Later in March, I had the opportunity to visit with USD’s Real Estate Society student club to brief them on CCIM. The CCIM Institute maintains an existing partnership with the USD Burnham-Moores Center for a fast track CCIM designation due to school’s Master of Science in Real Estate program, so CCIM is not new to their program. With the report the prior week, the group was already amped to take in more information about the industry. One of College Factual’s program ranking methodologies is the number of degreed students produced for a given industry, and the notable standing-room-only attendance at the student club meeting certainly showed the size of their program. Along with my briefing, Ryan Martin from the Building Industry Association provided an overview of that organization. And in planning for this visit, the program’s Student and Career Services Manager, Jackie Greulich, invited me, Ryan and five others to sit on a panel of real estate professionals to describe our career paths to the students. Various careers in real estate were represented from land development and construction to REITs, brokerage, and corporate asset management. The common theme across the group was how their respective real estate roles were seemingly secondary career developments, including my own following my initial civil engineering and construction background. It was an action-packed club meeting with lots of questions and answers with very engaged students. And how they got In-N-Out burgers and fries for all the attendees was a logistical miracle itself!

In addition to SDSU and USD, UCSD now offers an undergraduate major in Real Estate and Development, offered under their Urban Studies and Planning program. This program includes planning and design as well as environmental stewardship and innovation in the program’s curriculum and is the one degree program that is outside of their respective school of business. However, the program highly encourages pairing of this major with one of the various business minors from UCSD’s Rady School of Management. I hope to make a visit to this relatively new program soon.

All three local schools are planning on a joint student meeting to promote networking and potentially other joint programming opportunities. CCIM San Diego plans to be there to facilitate connections to industry and to help promote the local talent coming out of these outstanding institutions. If you are in need of new talent, you don’t need to look far. These schools are producing the best and brightest for the industry, so reach out to any or all of these programs. I am sure you will be impressed with the quality and energy of our local real estate students.

Robert Harp, CCIM


CEO, Founder & Publisher
619 977 5747

What does your company do? (GHN) is a highly respected online global media brand—providing actionable market insights and thought leadership to CEOs, presidents and decision makers in the global travel and tourism industry. is a Media Sponsor of 50+ industry conferences worldwide, especially those with a focus on hotel investment.

How long have you been at your current employer?  Since 1987.

Describe your role in the company. As CEO, I’m responsible for shepherding the vision, mission and core values of – and for managing the overall operations and resources of the company.  In addition, I serve as chair of GHN’s Advisory Board (consisting of 25 hotel company CEOs) and GHN’s Thought Leaders Global Network.  

Why are you a CCIM Member?  I’m a CCIM Member primarily for the premier educational value of the designation. As an added benefit, I appreciate working with the rich network of highly talented CCIM professionals in the business.

Are you a CCIM Designee?  Yes

When did you earn your pin?  1994

What impact has your involvement with CCIM had on your career?  I was in my early 30s when I earned my CCIM designation. My involvement in the San Diego CCIM Chapter significantly sharpened my entrepreneurial and leadership skills. In 1994, I served as president-elect of the San Diego CCIM Chapter (when Tom Aycock, CCIM was president). And in 1995, I served as the Chapter President. Tom encouraged me to organize the first San Diego Hospitality Industry Outlook in 1994 – and I’ve enjoyed chairing this event annually ever since.

Also in the early 90s, fellow CCIMs Dick Bridy, Ed Neill, Craig Irving, Joe Petrini and I were part of the leadership team that launched the San Diego County Commercial Association of Realtors (SDCCAR) – which was a very bold and entrepreneurial initiative at the time. And Ed, Dick, Joe and I served as president of SDCCAR in the beginning years, as did my good friend, the late Jay Diskin, CCIM, who succeeded me as president in 1998. The association is now known as the Commercial Real Estate Alliance, San Diego.

Describe a recent transaction you’d like to highlight.  Our firm represented the seller of the Kona Kai Resort and Spa a few years ago – a phenomenal water-oriented resort at the tip of Shelter Island.  We conducted a quiet search for a buyer (based on our extensive relationships in the industry – here and internationally).  The buyer, ultimately selected, was Noble House Hotels & Resorts of Seattle. Noble House also owns the marina at the resort, so this transaction brought the two assets back together.

What opportunities/transactions are you looking for in the marketplace?  I guess you could say I enjoy match-making (whether it be a buyer with a property or a property with a buyer).  I’m very opportunistic – and most of our buyer contacts (domestic and international) prefer to buy properties of a 3+ to 5 star rating.  Our firm has developed (over 30 years) one of the most extensive hotel real estate investment networks globally.

What industries would you like to target in order to further your network? My focus will remain on the global hotel investment industry, however, natural secondary industries of interest would include retail, restaurants, leisure, and workspace (since today’s hotel consumers are all about the ‘experience’).

What would you like the industry to know about you?  I grew up in an entrepreneurial real estate family in southern Indiana. At age 18, I was one of the youngest to secure an Indiana real estate license -- joined my dad in the family real estate business.  

But I’m also a deep thinker of sorts (pondering questions such as ‘what is the purpose of life? Work? Etc.’  These questions led me to Wheaton College (IL), a Christian liberal arts college, where I earned an Economics degree, while also studying the Bible as part of the liberal arts curriculum. I so resonated with the message of the Bible, that I went on to earn a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary (TX)  -- which included 3 years of Greek and 2 years of Hebrew.

After graduation from Dallas Seminary, I began my business career in Dallas, believing that God wants each of us to honor Him with the gifts and talents He has given to us – in whatever vocation we choose. My life’s focus is not on leaving a legacy, but rather on being faithful to the One who made me and redeemed me. I have found the Christian life to be a most fulfilling life, one that gives purpose to all I do (and hope for the future).

What piece of advice can you share?  Some measure wealth in monetary terms, but for me, true wealth is in friendships. So my advice is to invest in friendships – and you will always be immeasurably rich.

Describe your strongest characteristic?  Perseverance. I’ve had my share of setbacks.

What is your biggest accomplishment? At age 49, I decided to pivot and enroll in a doctoral program at Gordon-Conwell (Boston area), focused on leadership and ethics. This was a big accomplishment in that it was a mid-life transition (required perseverance) which then opened up the world of academics to me.  For the past 3 ½ years I’ve been part of the leadership at Biola University’s Crowell School of Business.  We are fostering an entrepreneurial community on campus, and I’m having the time of my life. I love the attitude of college and graduate students who want to make their life count for noble causes.

What college / university did you attend?  

B.A. Economics, Wheaton College (IL) 
M.A. Communications, with High Honor, Wheaton Graduate School (IL)
Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (TX)
D.Min., Gordon-Conwell (MA)

What past career or prior experience would you like to mention?

  • President of the San Diego CCIM Chapter, 1995.
  • Founding Board Member and 1997 president of the San Diego County Commercial Association of Realtors.
  • Founder and Program Chair for the annual San Diego Hospitality Industry Outlook, now in its 25th year.
What is your favorite pastime?  I’d say traveling and learning. I guess I’m a discoverer & learner at heart. 


Laurie Blake


Commercial Real Estate Loan Officer
Mission Federal Credit Union

Laurie began her career in 1983 with Western Financial Savings Bank in Irvine, California; starting as a loan processor and working her way to branch manager of a production office.  She has 35 years of experience in residential and commercial real estate lending.  

Laurie currently works at Mission Federal Credit Union, where she has been employed for four years.  Mission Federal finances multi-family, office, industrial and retail properties.

Originally from Michigan, Laurie obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University.

Currently, she is serving as a Board Member of the San Diego CCIM Chapter (total of 3 years on the Board).  She has also participated in helping to organize the Annual Golf Tournament/Golf Events for CCIM for over a dozen years.

Laurie believes that creating long-term relationships and providing excellent customer service has contributed to her success.   She has funded in excess of $1 billion in real estate loans during her origination career.  She enjoys all aspects of the loan transaction; and is a great resource to help clients get connected to the proper loan programs.

Kristy Blair, CCIM

Executive Director – Client Manager
Chase Bank
(619) 464-1597

What does your company do?
Term financing from $500,000 to $25 million+ on 5+ unit apartment buildings.

How long have you been at your current employer? 2002

Describe your role in the company? Focused exclusively on originating apartment building loans in San Diego County.

Why are you a CCIM member? Continuous networking with fellow members helps grow and strengthen my knowledge about current trends and even past trends. Thus, providing my investors with tools they need to be armed with to try and stay ahead of the curve.

Are you a CCIM Designee? Yes

If yes, when did you earn your pin? April 2009

What impact has your involvement with CCIM had on your career? Exposure to a higher caliber of customers given the fact that I have a complete full circle of understanding of the user/investor side.

Describe a recent transaction would you like to highlight. Involved in a tree of sale transactions that directly dominoed into each other. Resulting in several 1031 exchanges and totaling over $40MM in purchases.

What opportunities/transactions are you looking for in the marketplace? Always seeking out new clientele to consult and help build and strengthen their portfolio.

What industries would you like to target in order to further your network? Strictly multifamily which includes manufactured home parks.

What would you like the industry to know about you? 16+ years of experience and my office being recognized internally for their elite President’s Club year after year, the involvement in thousands of transactions that amount to billions, I have a very vast knowledge of being able to successfully strategize and build your multifamily portfolio. Served 6 years on Board of the San Diego County Apartment Association. Earning my San Diego LYCEUM leadership pin in 2012. My work ethics originate from being born into a military family, with my father serving 20+ years in the Navy.

What piece of advice can you share? Do not be complacent and do not fear. Changes in the market can cause distress. Allow that to push you to further your knowledge and network with your peers so you can lead your clients successfully. Stay present and involved.

Describe your strongest characteristic? Dedication/Commitment

What is your biggest accomplishment? During the Great Recession in 2009, instead of allowing panic take a hold, I purchased my home along with receiving my CCIM pin.

What is your favorite pastime? Spending time with my 3 children who are very understanding of my career and the time it demands.