group photo of about 15 people who attended the dean's associates gathering

In Support Dean's Associates meet and a new major in real estate development is approved, plus donor updates

The Luskin School of Public Affairs gathered again in winter quarter to thank its Dean’s Associates, a group of donors giving $1,000 or more in the last year. These benefactors help fuel the School’s mission of social justice through pedagogy, research and community engagement.

The luncheon commenced with a welcome from Interim Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, who expressed her appreciation for contributions that have enriched the Luskin School by funding academic programs, fostering innovation and providing transformative opportunities for students.

Loukaitou-Sideris praised the tremendous impact of donors guiding the new Master of Real Estate Development and those promoting an ongoing campaign to raise funds for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion programs.

One of the most touching moments was a heartfelt testimonial from urban planning doctoral candidate Andres Ramirez, who shared how his life has been positively impacted by the generosity of donors — a sentiment echoed throughout the event. Ramirez highlighted the impact of the Vanessa Dingley Fellowship on his educational experience and professional goals.

portrait images of three men

Gadi Kaufmann, top left, Alex Rose, right, and Jeffrey Seymour

‘A Holistic Education Covering the Entire Life Cycle of Real Estate’

In response to a growing demand for skilled professionals in real estate development, the Luskin School will launch an innovative master’s degree designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills and practical experience needed to excel.

UCLA Luskin is grateful to Board of Advisors members Gadi Kaufmann, Alex Rose and Jeff Seymour, among others, for helping to prepare the Master of Real Estate Development, or MRED, to launch in fall 2025.

Amid a housing crisis, real estate development plays a vital role in shaping our communities, from the construction of homes and commercial properties to the revitalization of urban neighborhoods. An increasing need exists for professionals who can navigate the field’s complexities while considering such factors as sustainability, affordability and
social equity.

“There is no more fitting institution to house MRED than the Luskin School at UCLA,” said Seymour, who noted that the new degree will complement the School’s established programs in urban planning, social welfare and public policy.

“MRED students will benefit from an outstanding Luskin and adjunct faculty. They’ll have opportunities to work with scholars as well as industry professionals,” he said. “In addition, MRED will affiliate with the Anderson and UCLA Law schools, as well as the Ziman Center.”

Kaufmann said that UCLA, as a global education powerhouse, is well-positioned to offer such a program, which will be set apart from other programs by its “comprehensive approach to preparing real estate professionals for the dynamic challenges of the industry.”

“In today’s complex landscape, a holistic education covering the entire life cycle of real estate is crucial for success — from development, planning and design, and construction to financing, marketing, property management and asset management,” he said.

“Real estate accounts for almost one-half of global wealth, and almost everything humans do on our planet is housed in some sort of real estate,” Kaufmann said. “It is a segment of the economy far too important to ignore.”

Where They Are Now: Meagan Smith-Bocanegra MSW ’23

Meagan Smith-Bocanegra MSW ’23 shared her experiences at UCLA Luskin and beyond, including the impact that her Shapiro Fellowship, funded by the Shapiro family, made on her educational and career trajectory. Smith-Bocanegra is now a social worker at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center.

What made you choose to attend the Luskin School?

The main factor was the opportunity for specialization, particularly the Health and Mental Health Across the Lifespan concentration.

How did your fellowship shape your educational and professional experience at the Luskin School?

Because of the Shapiro Fellowship, I had a unique learning opportunity at the Special Patient Care Clinic at UCLA School of Dentistry. This field placement gave me invaluable hands-on experience in program building and advocating for individuals and families with disabilities, and prepared me well for my current role as a hospital social worker.

What experiences did your fellowship provide that you may not have otherwise had?

Too many to count! I was able to begin practicing social work at a higher level, and even participated in writing an article for the California Dental Association about the impact of social work in dental settings. Above all, this fellowship allowed me to work with families and individuals with unique strengths and challenges, which deeply impacted my professional and personal spheres.

How did your fellowship influence you in your current role?

My ultimate goal has always been to be a medical social worker. However, my fellowship prepared me for the real-world situations and hard work of the inpatient medical world.

If you could say something to the donors of your fellowship, what would you say?

Thank you! Due to your generosity, I had the privilege of working with these individuals and families, supporting them and learning from them. This fellowship provided me with the skills to obtain my dream position, where I am now able to work with so many more individuals and families every day.

If you could say something to prospective or current students, what would you say?

If you have the opportunity to be a part of the Shapiro Fellowship, do it! Due to the unique experiences I had from the fellowship, I had multiple job offers post-graduation and am now working my dream job. You will encounter so many incredible people, diverse individuals and situations, and have the experience of a lifetime.

Why They Give: Kayne Doumani MA UP ’95

UCLA Luskin urban planning alumna and longtime supporter Kayne Doumani shares her experiences as a student, followed by a professional life with unexpected twists and turns. Doumani MA UP ’95 has held many roles in affordable housing, building skills that led her to her current position as an asset management consultant to nonprofit housing organizations. “I didn’t know I was training to be an asset manager,” she said, “but every bit of that experience has contributed to my success.” Read the full interview.

Did a transformative experience lead to your passion?

There wasn’t one. I wrote in my application to what was then GSAUP [Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning] that I didn’t know why I cared. There’s no history of public service in my family. We didn’t discuss lofty topics like justice. But that’s been my lens for as long as I can remember. I got interested in urban planning when I saw it being used as a tool for making sure that development didn’t only benefit the developer.

How did the Luskin School help you get closer to your goal?

For me, Luskin was the complete package. Los Angeles was a rich laboratory for professors and students — and those students contributed nearly as much to my education as the professors. We were a diverse and accomplished group coming into the School.

How have you seen the impact of your philanthropy play out?

I try not to. I’m helping a couple of young students I know with their college expenses and the only stipulation I made was, “No gratitude.” You have to trust the people you hand your money to. Then don’t bug them.

What values do you hold closest in your life and work?

Sometimes you need to sublimate your values to those of the people affected by your work. Listen as long and hard as is necessary to understand. Be fierce, not popular.

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