Urban Planning students Valerie Coleman and Aaron Ordower have been named Howard and Irene Levine Distinguished Fellows, a program offered through the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate. UCLA Anderson School of Business MBA student Neil Doshi is the third recipient of the award.
The fellowship is given to UCLA Anderson, UCLA Law or UCLA Luskin Urban Planning or Public Policy students who are entering their last year of graduate studies. Students demonstrating an interest and gift in real estate and social responsibility, academic accomplishment, leadership, and service to the real estate program at UCLA are chosen.
Coleman and Ordower both have experience working in the affordable housing and sustainability sector prior to entering their studies at UCLA. Coleman was a project manager at Rebuilding Together SF, which focuses on preserving affordable home ownership in San Francisco. Ordower spent time at World Bank working on projects focused on sustainable development investment lending in Latin America.
They also both have big goals for the future.
“While I still have some time to really dream big about my career, most likely I’ll want to work around issues of affordable housing and/or cities preparing for the tremendous increase in aging residents,” Coleman says. Though it was her work in community development that led her back to school, she discovered an interest learning about how cities can support the growing senior population through research work with Professor Fernando Torres-Gil at UCLA’s Center for Policy Research on Aging.
Ordower, who is currently in New York City doing two internships over the summer, says he aims to make meaningful economic changes in underinvested neighborhoods.
“I am passionate about creating affordable housing that is environmentally sustainable: both by constructing efficient buildings but also by creating affordable units close to the city center and close to jobs,” he says. “That could mean a role in local government or with a private sector developer working on projects that revitalize these neighborhoods.
Along with an annual stipend award and a chance to work with UCLA faculty and industry leaders in developing future case studies for real estate courses, Levine fellows are assigned a Ziman Center board member as a mentor and will have opportunities to attend social entrepreneurial real estate leadership training and engage in select internships.
Ordower says he’s confident that the fellowship will help him to develop skills he may be lacking by exposing him to private sector professionals.
“I hope they will help me identify the skills I need to develop, and expose me to practical advice,” he says.
“I’m excited to network with real estate professionals and to grow my understanding of real estate development,” says Coleman. “I’m excited to find where and how my interests overlap and hope to have the opportunity to do a research-based project as well.”