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CRE Consulting Corps Recognized with Chairman’s Award

To say the Consulting Corps Team has given us much to consider and evaluate for the future would be a gross understatement. They asked the tough questions, interviewed more than 50 people, and worked very long hours. Words like ‘creative, innovative, on-target, and tremendously detailed’ were common descriptors of the team and their work.”  That’s what W. Michael Couch, Executive Director of the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority had to say after his organization’s participation in a Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) Consulting Corps assignment this year.

This type of satisfaction from the organizations that have had the opportunity to take advantage of the Consulting Corps’ expertise is why this exemplary group was recently recognized with the CRE Chairman’s Award at the 2014 Annual Convention.

Mr. Couch was right: words like creative and innovative are spot-on to describe the CRE members who participate in the Consulting Corps. I had the honor of serving as the Vice Chair of the Steering Committee last year and am now one of two Co-Chairs, and have also served as a panelist on a number of assignments over the years.  I am continuously awe stricken by what the chemistry of the Consulting Corps produces:  innovative, well-substantiated strategic direction for organizations in a very short time period at a very low cost.  This kind of world-class direction is invaluable in helping non-profits realize their missions, and the Consulting Corps participants are proud to have the opportunity to contribute.

The Consulting Corps, a sub-set of CRE, receives submissions from around the globe and takes on two to four pro bono assignments each year, as a public service, as a way of increasing the connections between members and also as a way to demonstrate the value of strategic thinking in our field.

We provide some of the best minds in real estate to our clients; with our panelists typically taking an objective, high-level view of an issue and creating real estate analyses, strategies, and action plans.  Our clients include government entities such as municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions and religious groups.

The panels for Consulting Corps assignments are typically made up of five to six volunteers who spend a week at the client’s site researching and strategizing, and who then present their findings.  Panel positions are often very selective even within the already selective Counselors group; with panels selected to provide the range of skills and experience that meets the specific needs of each project that is selected.

Some of the projects we had the honor to work on this year included Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority in Milledgeville, Georgia and the Catholic Diocese of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.

In the case of Milledgeville, the team was brought in to look at the potentials for redevelopment of the vacated Central State Hospital campus. At the end of the six-day assignment, the client had a 90‐day action plan with step-by-step recommendations of how to move forward with its physical assets, and a new view of the asset and its possibilities which they had never dreamed of.

Congrats to the team on its recognition with the Chairman’s Award, given for bringing increased visibility to the remarkable capabilities of CRE through our ability to give back to communities with strategic pro bono consulting. I am honored to help lead this group of visionary real estate professionals and look forward to another successful year.

Jackie Buhn is Principal & CEO at AthenianRazak and Co-Chair of the CRE Consulting Corps Steering Committee.