“Cameron Poised to Lead North Carolina A&T Real Estate Foundation into New Mission”
Greensboro, NC July 13, 2020 – Four years ago, the North Carolina A&T University Foundation changed its moniker and narrowed its purpose renaming the nonprofit the North Carolina A&T Real Estate Foundation. It was a move to focus on acquiring, owning, transferring, selling, developing, building and managing real estate or real estate-related projects in support of the University. This change put the Foundation in a unique category not incorporated by most institutions, particularly HBCU’s. According to board chair Haven Cockerham, the decision required a realignment of their strategy and policy to support the new mission. “One of the things that happened since making the transition was changing the skill set of those individuals on the Foundation board. Before, we may have had one person with real estate experience, now 70% of our board members have some type of real estate and economic development expertise.” That shift eventually led to the appointment of real estate specialist Kimberly Cameron as new Executive Director. Cameron brings over 25 years in community development expertise to her new role, working on projects that served as a catalyst for revitalization of neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, Durham and Greensboro, NC. “I rely on a toolbox set of skills to persevere,” said Cameron. “They include planning, organizing, independence, execution and most importantly, follow through!” This skill set helped her become the first Black woman to graduate in construction management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earning a Master’s of Business Administration in Finance from Concordia University in Milwaukee.
Cameron moved to Durham from Atlanta, GA in 2013 to become Director of Real Estate for Self-Help, a national community development financial institution, where she provided strategic leadership to a 20-member real estate team. Before her current title she accepted the position of Director of Real Estate and Economic Development for the North Carolina A&T Real Estate Foundation after working at Woodforest National Bank. “I believe my overall career experience strongly prepared me for this role,” said Cameron. “My background in finance and urban renewal is an asset including work on Hope VI development and other community revitalization projects. By mastering financing tools and the development process, I’ve been able to build a capacity of staff and grow a highly effectively team.” Cameron’s new role is one of the more unique positions linked to an academic atmosphere. The nonprofit Foundation generates revenue from property requiring expense management. The Executive Director’s role requires a professional possessing strong management skills, good governance and leadership skills with a commanding knowledge of community development and financing. She possesses those hard skills but is also touted for her ability to collaborate with a variety of key stakeholders like city leaders, university leadership or the financing community. To be successful it is critical that she is able to gain the respect and confidence of all of those entities including interfacing with the Foundation’s board.
Understanding the numbers at stake also plays a vital role. Her experience includes oversight of projects requiring layered financing. She acknowledges there is little difference between managing a portfolio of real estate to provide a consistent revenue stream for a commercial or nonprofit entity. The only difference being the nonprofit aligns her with a specific mission for a target market; in this case, working to better the goals of the University. Dividends from the change in positioning have come faster and better than initially expected. Real estate owned combined with total investments reach almost $200 million allowing the University to move at a faster pace than if they had to incorporate these activities inhouse. The Foundation is able to take on some functions that ultimately benefit the Chancellor. It provides off campus apartments for the University keeping the institution from having to assume additional debt. They are able to purchase property and turn a profit with those revenues generating scholarships for students. This shift comes at a critical time as the North Carolina A&T student population is rapidly growing and housing acquisition is a way for the institution to keep up with demand.
The board chair believes the change has also resulted in a more aggressive approach allowing the Foundation to get more things done in a shorter period of time. Since repurposing, they have engaged in large transactions building housing, leasing housing to the University and engaging in business development near the campus. Over the past 12 months the Foundation closed two bond deals, one last June close to $19 million and another one at $52 million. Closing two bond deals back to back in a six-month period is not an everyday accomplishment. Cameron believes to create healthy communities, connectivity must be established between schools, businesses and municipalities to ensure that a continuity of services is being provided to its residents. Economically viable communities need money circulating with goods and services purchased that include support of life sustaining businesses like grocery stores. Incomes should have an ability to grow to spur economic viability which is most important to a community. When property is acquired the economic impact is progressive, allowing the creation of jobs with livable wages. “As we take on more housing, the University hires more resident assistants to help students, creating jobs.” said Cameron. “Other jobs are generated like landscaping and furniture purchases are made. The more housing is created it promotes an environment of services and additional jobs.”
Under Cameron’s leadership the Foundation is seeking to add a Real Estate Project Manager, a Property Accountant, a Director of Economic Development and will continue taking an aggressive approach to acquisitions, improvements and developments. The Foundation has eight staff but are reorganizing to accommodate growth and explore different types of developments. They plan to hire staff with the required training and certification to complement that goal. They are on a path to double in staff size over the next two to three years and seek to acquire mixed use developments as a 50% or sole owner of projects increasing the asset base of the organization. The goal is to diversify the income and assets to remain healthy and maintain a real estate rich organization with good cash flow.
For more information, contact Jackson Communications at (678) 631-6840.
(About North Carolina A&T Real Estate Foundation: The North Carolina A&T Real Estate Foundation, Inc. is the successor organization to The North Carolina A&T University Foundation, Inc. The Foundation’s goal is to support North Carolina A&T State University’s quality environment of exemplary teaching and learning, scholarly and creative research, and effective community engagement and public service through the acquisition, ownership, transfer, development, and management of real estate or real estate-related projects. For more information, go to www.ncat.edu.)