MRED Faculty Biographies
Keith M. Allen‐Niesen
Keith Allen-Niesen is a partner in the firm’s Los Angeles office and co-chair of the infrastructure practice. He has a broad range of transactional experience and oversees major business litigation, business transactions, land use and development matters. Keith has extensive experience in the acquisition, development and sale of hotels, resorts, golf courses, restaurants, office buildings, residential subdivisions, shopping centers and industrial sites, including transactions involving contaminated real property. In addition, he represents landlords on both leasing and management issues for office buildings, mixed-use developments and shopping centers. Keith is also well-versed in the areas of public/private development, land use and loan workouts involving real estate collateral. Keith is the former director of the firm’s Southern California Business & Transactions unit as well as a former national hiring partner, chair of the Real Estate & Land Use practice and member of the Compensation Committee. He is repeatedly recognized as one of the top real estate attorneys in Southern California.
Bruce Baltin is a Managing Director of CBRE Hotels’ Consulting leading their Los Angeles practice. In his more than 40 years with PKF Consulting, which was acquired by CBRE in July of 2014, Mr. Baltin has had a wide diversity of experience in the Hospitality and Tourism industries including market demand studies, valuations, economic and operational consulting and dealing with leases, franchises and management contracts. His industry experience includes hotels, resorts, clubs, restaurants, theme parks, and national and state parks. He has worked extensively with various governmental entities in tourism and hospitality real estate issues. He has frequently been quoted in the national and local press and testified as an expert witness on various industry issues. Prior to joining CBRE he taught at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and was corporate operations analyst for the Sheraton Corporation of America. He has taught extensively in the Collins School of Hospitality Management at California Polytechnic Institute, Pomona. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor teaching courses in the Masters of Real Estate Development program at the University of Southern California. He is a member of various professional and community organizations.
Terri Dickerhoff is President of CGR Development and entitlement, project management and construction management-consulting firm in the Southern California area. She takes projects from vacant land to occupancy through the entitlement and construction phases. Projects include high-end residential, workllive space and retail developments. Previously she was with The Lee Group as Project Manager for new residential developments, ranging from affordable to high-end, which included 23 high-end homes in Playa Vista, affordable urban infill projects in Bell Gardens, Commerce and El Monte, a rehab office and work/live loft space in Venice and several semi-custom homes in Venice and Marina del Rey. Terri holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a Master of Real Estate Development and Master of Planning from the University of Southern California.
Stillwater Investment Group is an Orange County-based real estate firm focused on acquiring and managing commercial real estate assets throughout California and Arizona. Stillwater Investment Group is led by John Drachman. Mr. Drachman is responsible for the firm’s investment and asset management activities. Stillwater looks for investment opportunities where it can utilize its asset management expertise to add immediate value while focusing on acquiring projects below their replacement costs. To purchase its assets, Stillwater partners with high net-worth private investors, family offices and institutional equity partners. Since its founding in 2014, Stillwater has acquired and been a partner in over $210 million of office and retail assets in Southern California. Stillwater has also acquired over $40 million of value-add Multi-Family assets as a managing partner of Waterford Residential, LLC. Prior to founding Stillwater, Mr. Drachman was a Vice President with Greenlaw Partners in Orange County, where he sourced and managed a portfolio of real estate assets throughout Southern California and Arizona. Mr. Drachman began his career as a commercial real estate broker with Grubb & Ellis. Mr. Drachman earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Arizona. He went on to earn his MBA degree as well as his Master in Real Estate Development from the University of Southern California. He is an active member of NAIOP, and an avid swimmer and golfer. He currently resides in Newport Beach with his wife Laura and daughter Ariella.
Stanley L. Iezman
Stanley Iezman is American Realty Advisors’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, responsible for the strategic planning and direction of all firm activities and a member of the firm’s Investment and Management Committees. Mr. Iezman has directed the acquisition, structuring, and management of approximately $10 billion of real estate located throughout the U.S., is a noted speaker on real estate investment, and has authored numerous articles on related issues for real estate, pension, and legal industry publications. Mr. Iezman is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, where he teaches real estate asset management in the Master of Real Estate Development Program and is a member of the Executive Committee of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. He also serves on the Planning Committee for the USC Real Estate Law and Business Forum, as well as on the USC Hillel Board of Directors. Mr. Iezman is actively involved in The Urban Land Institute, where he sits on the Board of Governors for the ULI Foundation and participates in the Industrial and Office Park Development Council. He also serves on the International Council of Shopping Centers, and is a member of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers; the Pension Real Estate Association; the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans; the Los Angeles County Bar Association; the Real Estate Roundtable; and the American Bar Association. Mr. Iezman was also the Chair of the NYU Real Estate Institute’s Annual Conference on Pension Fund Investment in Real Estate for ten years. Mr. Iezman has over 42 years of real estate experience and earned a B.A. degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a J.D. from the University of Southern California School Of Law.
Nam Joe brings over 13 years of experience in homebuilding, residential land acquisitions and development to Watt Communities. As Division President of Southern California, Nam oversees all operational functions for the region comprising Land Acquisition, Engineering, Development, Operations and Sales & Marketing. Nam’s extensive experience in land acquisition and development spans submarkets throughout both Southern and Northern California, and he has worked on projects across multiple residential asset classes including greenfield, urban infill, multi-family, mixed-use and master-planned communities. Nam has held a number of senior level positions in the homebuilding and land development industry with both publicly-traded and privately-held entities such as John Laing Homes, Pulte, Richmond American Homes, Van Daele Homes, Emaar and Province West. Nam received his BA degree from Tufts University and is also a graduate of the University of Southern California (USC) where he earned a JD degree with an emphasis in Business Law and a Master’s degree in Real Estate Development.
After five years as Senior Vice President at the Irvine Company and 30 years prior designing new communities and mixed use projects, Steven has gone independent with Kellenberg Studio; forging new ideas with old friends. He continues to focus on master planning large complex new communities and mixed use projects, including higher density redevelopment, based on the inteerplay of design, market and financial feasibility gained at IC. His projects have won 2 ULI Awards of Excellence and 6 PCBC Gold Nugget Awards. He pioneered development of the Sustainable Systems Integration Methodology (SSIM) which allows optimization of energy, water, ecology and transport systems resulting in reduced carbon and resource footprints at the lowest possible economic impact. As a sideline he has developed two Conservation Development project in the Sierra Foothills as models to reduce rural sprawl while conserving valuable ecological systems. Steve has co-authored two books on planning and sustainability with ULI and written and spoken extensively. His latest written contribution is for The 21st Century New Town currently being published by Harvard University. He has served four terms in leadership of ULI Community Development Councils and continues in his 20th year teaching at USC Master in Real Estate Program in addition to his other pursuits.
Michael I. Keston
Mr. Keston is Chairman and CEO of KFG Investment Company, a privately owned real estate and investment company. KFG Investment Company and Affiliates have built and marketed approximately 50,000 residential units in more than 140 separate communities since Mr. Keston joined the Company in 1970. The Company currently owns over 2 million square feet of industrial and apartment income properties in California and Texas and more 3,000 residential lots in California with a value in excess of $100 million. Mr. Keston serves on the Board of Councilors of the University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy and is a member of the Executive Committee of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Masters Degree Program in Real Estate Development at USC since 1990, and has served as a member of the Policy Advisory Board of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics for the University of California, Berkeley. Michael has previously served as Chairman of the Board of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and as a member of the Board of the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commission. Mr. Keston is a past Director of the Los Angeles Conservancy, past Director of the California State Chamber of Commerce and is a member of Heal the Bay in Santa Monica and Heal the Ocean in Santa Barbara. Mr. Keston served as President of the Building Industry Association Los Angeles/Ventura Chapter in 1990. He was Chairman of the Political Action Committee of the Building Industry Association of Southern California from 1982 to 1990. During that time, he was instrumental in raising over $6 million for contributions to State and Local political elections and issues. He is a 1996 recipient of the BIA Medal of Honor and was inducted into the California Building Industry Foundation Hall of Fame in 2004. A native of New York City, Mr. Keston received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from City University of New York in 1961, a Master of Science Degree in Engineering from San Diego State College in 1964 and a Master of Business Administration Degree from the Wharton Graduate School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1966.
Allan D. Kotin
Allan Kotin has over 50 years of experience in real estate economics with an emphasis on financial planning and redevelopment. He is proficient in transaction negotiation, financial structuring, and market assessment for developers, investors, lenders and public agencies. Entering the real estate field in 1963, Mr. Kotin held key positions with several major real estate consulting and strategic planning firms before founding Kotin, Regan & Mouchly, Inc. (KRM) in 1980. This firm operated from 1980 to 2001 under the names KRM, Sedway Kotin Mouchly Group, KMG Consulting, and PCR Kotin. Allan D. Kotin & Associates (ADK&A) was formed as one-man sole proprietorship in 2001. Mr. Kotin’s management responsibilities have included market research, feasibility analysis, development monitoring, and the strategic planning. Since 1980, Mr. Kotin has been actively involved in public private joint ventures, often acting as a key strategist and negotiator for public agencies in major redevelopment and asset management transactions. Within this area, Mr. Kotin developed particular expertise in participatory ground leasing, a topic on which he has lectured before several national associations of government officials. He has been a key member of lease negotiating teams on several of the largest ground lease transactions in Southern California, including Marina City Club at Marina del Rey, Hollywood Highland in Hollywood, Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center in Santa Barbara, and Monterey Marketplace in Rancho Mirage. In addition to consulting work, Mr. Kotin teaches and lectures widely. Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy, where he teaches classes on public-private enterprise planning, the development approvals process, and real estate finance. Mr. Kotin has lectured at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has taught real estate economics at the University of California School of Architecture and Urban Planning. He is a frequent lecturer, presenter, and panelist at conferences for the Urban Land Institute, the International Council of Shopping Centers, the former California Redevelopment Association, and other organizations.
Alon I. Kraft
Alon Kraft is Senior Vice President at Lowe Enterprises Investors. He is based in Los Angeles and is responsible for asset and portfolio management for commercial and multifamily investment properties. He oversees annual asset and portfolio strategic plans focused on optimizing investment performance, due diligence coordination, asset dispositions and debt financing. In addition, he has sourced and structured joint venture partnerships for multifamily investments and other new business opportunities. Mr. Kraft joined Lowe Enterprises in 1997, initially overseeing underwriting and due diligence for commercial property acquisition opportunities, as well as handling asset management for the firm’s Real Estate Group. Previously, Mr. Kraft provided real estate consulting services with KMG Consulting in Los Angeles. He is a licensed real estate salesperson. He attended the University of Southern California earning a bachelor’s degree in architecture and master’s degree in planning. Mr. Kraft and his family reside in Brentwood.
Mr. Jeff Kreshek is Senior Vice President – West Coast Leasing for Federal Realty Investment Trust. In this capacity, Mr. Kreshek oversees the day to day leasing activities of the west coast portfolio. Primary responsibilities include sourcing new retailer relationships, negotiating all leases and lease related documents, and overseeing and directing third party real estate professionals. Prior to joining Federal Realty, Mr. Kreshek was the Principal in charge of leasing for The CIM Group where he was responsible for formulating the leasing strategy on CIM’s commercial portfolio of approximately twelve million square feet. Prior to joining The CIM Group, Mr. Kreshek was the Vice President of Development and Operations for Regent Properties, Inc. and before that, Mr. Kreshek formed and operated Vision Property Management, Inc., a full service real estate development, leasing and management company. Mr. Kreshek brings over 26 years of experience to the Trust in leasing, entitlements, property and asset management with an emphasis on redeveloping and repositioning underperforming and functionally obsolete assets. Mr. Kreshek received his undergraduate degree in Real Estate Finance, his Masters of Business Administration and his Masters of Real Estate Development from the University of Southern California. In addition, Mr. Kreshek holds the Certified Leasing Specialist (CLS), Certified Property Manager (CPM), Senior Certified Shopping Center Manager (SCSM), Certified Commercial Investment Manager (CCIM) designations, and retains his position as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Southern California, teaching Retail Development in the Masters of Real Estate Development program.
Nicole Kuklok-Waldman advocates for businesses to ensure the best results for her clients. From regulatory challenges to development projects, Nicole specializes in a comprehensive advocacy approach and is known for integrating community outreach, communication with elected officials and community leaders, and honesty backed up by evidentiary support, to ensure a positive and desired result. Prior to founding ColLAborate, Nicole practiced Land Use Law at major law firms in Los Angeles. Her practice included management and entitlement of highly-visible and controversial development projects; plan approvals, modifications, and compliance with existing entitlements; strategic advice; managing teams of consultants on large scale land use projects; and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance and review. She was integral in the entitlement of a large project in Beverly Hills, including a five star hotel and luxury residential units, and has worked on a variety of projects including shopping centers, museums, hotels, visitor-serving uses, and residential projects. Several of her projects have survived CEQA challenge or referendum efforts. She has also worked on numerous projects subject to the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission and successfully settled a Coastal Commission appeal against a Malibu shopping center. Nicole has worked on numerous regulatory approval processes required for different land uses across the region, and is often brought in to work with neighbors to gain approval and/or settlement of difficult issues. Nicole graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and attended Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC.
John D. Menne
John D. Menne is responsible for co-managing his family’s businesses, which include agricultural and commercial real estate in the western US. He joined the family business in 2014. Prior to joining the family business, John was a Managing Director with MetLife Real Estate Investors. He started with MetLife in 1985 and had been directly involved in many facets of its real estate investments including debt and equity asset management, joint ventures, acquisitions and sales, loan workouts and bankruptcy resolutions, and mortgage loan originations. Since 2002 he led the company’s Los Angeles office, which covers MetLife’s debt and equity portfolios totaling over $6.0B located in southern California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Hawaii. John also oversaw MetLife’s investment in a national multi-family development and operating joint venture consisting of 27 projects totaling 6,400 units and 10 land sites totaling 22 acres with a net equity value of over $1B. John received his BS degree in agricultural economics from the University of California/Davis in 1980, and his MBA in agribusiness from the University of Santa Clara in 1981. He has served as a committee member of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Bankruptcy Working Group. He is also a full member of ULI, and has served in a variety of positions including Chair of ULI’s Los Angeles District Council, Vice Chair of ULI’s National Program Committee, member of the District Council Advisory Group and a member of ULI’s Leadership Group. He is currently a member of the SSDC Product Council. In addition, John is active with USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate including serving on the Center’s Board of Directors, as well as an adjunct professor within the School’s Master in Real Estate Development program.
Carl F. Meyer
As a Principal at Perkins+Will, Carl leads the corporate, commercial, and civic practice area. Over the course of his architectural career he has been responsible for the leadership and direction of major urban mixed-use projects; commercial, community, corporate, and institutional facilities; and university projects. Carl thinks like a client and helps a client think like an architect to produce an environment in which projects of the highest quality can be developed. Prior to joining Perkins+Will, Carl led major project efforts for the University of California – Irvine and Cal State – San Luis Obispo, as well as the design of several retail and entertainment projects. He has also led major commercial mixed-use projects in the U.S., Western Europe, and Russia. Carl has been an adjunct professor at USC’s School of Policy, Planning, and Development for many years, teaching planning and design in the Masters of Real Estate Development program.
Ehud G. Mouchly
Ehud Mouchly is principal of READI, LLC (Real Estate Asset Development & Investments). He has more than 30 years of experience in development, redevelopment and financing of sustainable infill projects, mixed-use development (MXD) projects, master planned communities (MPC), workforce housing communities and employer-assisted housing projects. He was previously Vice President and General Manager of UniDev, LLC’s West Coast Office, focusing on the design, development, financing, and management of workforce housing communities. Earlier, Mouchly worked with SunCal Companies as a member of the master planned communities’ acquisition, entitlements and start-up team; General Manager of Anaverde (formerly City Ranch), KB-Home’s 2,000-acre, 5,000-unit in Palmdale, CA; Principal and Co-Developer of a 160-acre commercial MXD in San Joaquin County, CA; managing director in the Real Estate Group of Price Waterhouse; founder and president of a national real estate consulting company; developer/builder of residential and retirement communities. Mouchly has served in several national and local leadership positions of the ULI. He is a member of the NAHB and the CBIA, the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH), Lambda Alpha Int’l and other organizations, and is a former member of the Counselors of Real Estate (CRE). He holds a master’s degree and certification as Ph.D. candidate (“all but dissertation”) in economics and Middle East studies from Columbia University in New York, and he is an occasional author, instructor and speaker on real estate matters in the U.S. and overseas.
Chris Payne is a Managing Director for SARES•REGIS Group, a vertically-integrated real estate investment company focused on developing, redeveloping, acquiring, and managing apartment communities and commercial properties throughout the Western United States. Mr. Payne oversees the residential platform with direct responsibility for new development activity as well as oversight of the investment, construction, and property management divisions. With over 20 years of experience in the residential industry, Mr. Payne has developed many residential product types including apartments, condominiums, seniors, single family, and affordable housing. Prior to joining SARES•REGIS Group, Mr. Payne managed the regional development activities for AvalonBay Communities in Southern California for 14 years. There he was responsible for multi-family development activity totaling over $1.5 billion dollars. Prior to joining AvalonBay, Mr. Payne managed new development activity in Southern California for Belmont Corp, a national provider of senior’s housing and assisted living services. From 1996 – 1998, Mr. Payne was responsible for developing single family home communities with Greystone Homes. Mr. Payne was awarded a Master of Real Estate Development degree from the University of Southern California in 1996, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from California State University Fullerton in 1991. Mr. Payne currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California and is a licensed California Real Estate Broker. His professional affiliations include the Urban Land Institute and National Multi Housing Council.
Shlomi Ronen is a managing principal and founder of Dekel Capital where he is focused on the raising equity and debt for investors and developers acquiring both performing and non-performing assets. He has worked in real estate for 18 years and has spent the last 13 years working in a real estate capital advisory role. In the past 13 years he has placed more than $2 billion in equity, mezzanine, and debt financing for investors and developers throughout the United States. Prior to founding Dekel Capital he was a founding partner of Lucent Capital and opened and co-headed the Los Angeles office for the Carlton Group, a New York based real estate investment banking firm, and was a Senior Vice President at Los Angeles based George Smith Partners, where he was active in raising joint venture equity on behalf of institutional clients and executing both performing and non-performing note sales on behalf of financial institutions. Mr. Ronen earned his MBA with a concentration in Real Estate Finance at the University of Southern California. Mr. Ronen is an adjunct professor at USC teaching a graduate level course on Real Estate Capital Markets in the Master’s of Real Estate Program. A frequent guest presenter at industry conferences, he is also an active participant in numerous professional and charitable organizations including the Urban Land Institute SSDC Blue, ICSC, USC Lusk Center and the Los Angeles Jewish Federation’s Real Estate Cabinet. In October 2010, Mr. Ronen was named by Real Estate Forum magazine to its 40 Under 40 list.
R. Alex Saunders currently holds the position of Managing Director and leads the western region acquisition activities for Phoenix Realty Group (“PRG”), a national real estate firm specializing in urban and infill acquisition and development, including residential, mixed-use, and commercial real estate. PRG currently manages over $800 million in private equity funds representing approximately $3 billion in real estate in urban and infill areas nationwide. PRG has attracted investments from many of America’s leading public pension funds, banks and insurance companies, establishing institutional-size funds that aggregate discrete, opportunistic real estate opportunities. Since co-founding the west coast presence for the firm in early 2003, Mr. Saunders has originated and closed 35 transactions, which includes both joint-venture investing and direct principal acquisitions. During that time, Mr. Saunders has managed three institutional funds, placing in excess of $230 million of equity that represents over $800 million in real estate. The transaction activity has resulted in the acquisition or development of over 5,000 residential units and over 200,000 square feet of commercial space. Since June 2010 Mr. Saunders has invested in or acquired over 3,100 residential units in 14 multifamily properties. Since early 2008, Mr. Saunders has served as an adjunct professor within both the Master of Real Estate Development (“MRED”) program and the undergraduate Real Estate Development track at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California (“USC”). Courses taught have included Advanced Finance and Investment, Analyzing Real Estate Markets, and Market Analysis for Real Estate. Additionally, Mr. Saunders sits on the Advisory Board for the MRED program at USC and is a board member of the LUSK Center for Real Estate. Mr. Saunders is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine and holds a Master’s degree in Real Estate Development from USC.
Mott Smith is co-founder and Principal of Civic Enterprise, He is a founding board member of the California Infill Builders Association and adjunct faculty in USC’s Master of Real Estate Development Program. Earlier, he was as Acting Director of Planning for the L.A. Unified School District after serving as founding Executive Director of New Schools-Better Neighborhoods. He also worked as editor/business manager of The Planning Report. Mott is past president the Westside Urban Forum. He received a Master of Real Estate Development from USC and a BA in Linguistics from UCLA.
Dennis A. Watsabaugh
Dennis Watsabaugh is a Senior Vice President with the Southwest JLL Project and Development Services group. Dennis specializes in the management of complex development projects throughout Los Angeles. He is a results oriented manager with vast knowledge of all phases of projects including: due diligence, pre‐development, development, proforma analysis, project management, selection of professionals& contractors, contract negotiations, pre‐construction, design, construction, budget preparation and forecasting.
Babak Ziai, Founder of BrandView Capital Partners, brings over 13 years of principal experience in joint venture, acquisition, development, and disposition of commercial and mixed-use properties. He has a proven expertise in identifying, evaluating, managing and executing successful investment strategies on behalf of institutional capital clients and partnerships. Prior to launching BrandView Inc, Mr. Ziai held multiple leadership positions at the confluence of investment management and operating platforms at Lowe Enterprises, a vertically integrated, institutional investment and development company with over $6 Billion assets under management. He co-led the investment and development of large-scale mixed use properties totaling $800 million in project cost – both at the investment fund and project level – within the urban cores of Southern California. In addition he served as Western Region acquisitions officer responsible for directing value-add and opportunistic investment strategies totaling $300 million in transactions. Mr. Ziai performed business enterprise and asset valuations for Fortune 500 companies as a Consultant for Standard & Poor’s Corporate Value Consulting Group. He received a B.A. in Business Economics from UCLA and a Master of Real Estate Development from the University of Southern California. Mr. Ziai currently serves on the Executive Board of the UCLA Ziman Center Real Estate Alumni Group and is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, NAIOP and the Urban Land Institute.