Real estate pro Mary Lynne Boorn joins USC Price faculty

November 21, 2018
USC Price Associate Professor Mary Lynne Boorn

USC Price Associate Professor Mary Lynne Boorn

By Cristy Lytal

Mary Lynne Boorn, a new associate professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy, grew up in the real estate business. She was still in elementary school when her father served as the development director of Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and it inspired her to follow in his footsteps.

“How transformative it was for the buildings, but also for the whole area — that just stayed with me,” Boorn said. “When you create a great project, you have a huge positive impact on a city, on a community, and, generally speaking, those positive impacts last quite a long time.”

Fascinated by cities past, present and future, Boorn earned her undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University, before moving to Los Angeles to work at Security Pacific National Bank. Her group primarily worked with homebuilders, selling off portions of their loans to outside lenders. She then earned an MBA and master’s degree in urban planning from UCLA, and spent a year studying British architecture and interiors in London.

She moved to Cincinnati to take a job as the vice president of development and investment management at Madison Marquette, a real estate developer specializing in shopping centers and mixed-use developments.

After managing a West Coast portfolio from Cincinnati, Boorn made a decision to focus her efforts on redevelopment projects in Cincinnati, investing in her hometown while finding a better balance between work and family demands.

As the vice president of development at the Cincinnati Center City Development Group (known as 3CDC), she oversaw multiple downtown projects, including the renovation of Fountain Square.

“It’s the primary gathering place for the city,” Boorn said. “So it was great to see the economic development nonprofit side of things.”

She then returned to the private sector as the co-founder and managing director of Boorn Partners, which later became CitiPlanIt. In this role, she has provided development expertise to clients ranging from the City of Fort Myers to the Boston Red Sox.

“Business was booming, and then the market crashed, so it was time to reevaluate,” Boorn said. “I had taught at the University of Cincinnati in that transition between Madison Marquette and working for the nonprofit, and would teach the capstone development course every couple of years. I really enjoyed my work at the university, so I got my PhD during the depths of the recession.”

As a PhD candidate at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning, she concentrated her research on regional development. This allowed her to incorporate her interests in economic development, city planning, real estate and public finance.

After earning her doctorate, Boorn jumped at the chance to return to Los Angeles as an associate professor at USC Price.

“When we’re looking for teaching faculty, we’re looking for people who have proven themselves to be as outstanding as our tenure-track faculty,” said Richard K. Green, chair of the Department of Policy Analysis and Real Estate. “Mary Lynne is one of these rare instances of a person who has had a remarkable professional career, but also has academic chops.”

Currently, Boorn is teaching RED 509 Market Analysis for Real Estate to the master’s students, and RED 362 Real Estate Development Fundamentals to the undergraduates. She also enjoys mentoring students and providing career advice, and offering input into the real estate development curriculum as the program’s field coordinator. She is also part of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, and recently moderated the panel at the annual Women in Real Estate luncheon.

“I definitely subscribe to the model of being a lifelong learner,” Boorn said. “That’s why I love being at a university, especially of this caliber, because I’m surrounded with other people who share my passion for learning and sharing knowledge.”

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