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Real Estate Pros Learn to Weather Economic Storms

April 16, 2009 By:
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Richard J. Green

Richard J. Green, keynote speaker at the April 24 Jewish Federation Real Estate Group Conference at Lafayette Hills' Green Valley Country Club, stands upon the shoulders of men who have successfully weathered economic storms. Green will share his experiences as CEO of Firstrust Bank during this breakfast program devoted to discussion of "Solving the Capital Stack."

Green is the third generation of Greens to lead Firstrust, which was founded by his grandfather, Samuel in 1934, during the Great Depression.

Despite the economic challenges, the elder Green started the South Philadelphia financial institution on a foundation of solid family values and a commitment to serving the community.

In 1970, Daniel B. Green, Samuel's son, became president and CEO of the bank and currently serves as chairman of the board of directors.

Richard Green, succeeded his father as CEO in 1995. He started his career with Firstrust in 1978, utilizing his degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and his master's in business administration from the Wharton School to become the bank's general counsel. He joined the bank's board of directors in 1986.

"We are extremely fortunate to have Richard Green as our keynote speaker," said JFRE chair Bill Glazer, who described Green as "an icon in the business community and a beacon in the Jewish community."

Glazer expressed confidence that the conference will be enlightening to JFRE members during these challenging and tumultuous times.

"We will try to elucidate the path to solving the Capital Stack quandaries in our markets," said Glazer, president of Keystone Property Group, explaining for laymen that "the capital stack is the funding for real estate projects, in order of priority, from debt to equity."

While Glazer does not promise that Richard Green and other industry experts will "be able to let the Genie out of the bottle," he indicated optimism that "we will be able to empower the audience with the most current thinking and experiences of the people closest to the capital market challenges."

Programs like these help JFRE members succeed on two fronts -- as professionals and as philanthropists, Glazer maintained, explaining that "we help Jewish real estate professionals to grow their businesses through networking and cutting-edge advice from recognized industry experts," he said.

Reaching Out to the Less Fortunate

"In turn," he continued, "we provide numerous opportunities for group members to help Federation succeed in reaching out to those less fortunate."

Glazer cited the group's strong participation in Federation's Mitzvah Mania days as examples of JFRE's social-action orientation. JFRE was a sponsor of the 2008 and 2009 events; members worked side by side with volunteers from Rebuilding Together Philadelphia to renovate and rebuild homes of older adults at risk.

During the April 24 program, panelists will share their expertise in managing debt and equity in the current economic climate. One such pro is Bill Landman, the chief investment officer of CMS, a financial-services firm whose principal clients are entrepreneurs.

Philanthropy is a driving force behind CMS, which invites clients to participate in company-sponsored workshops on charitable giving.

CMS founder and chairman Mark Solomon, and his partner and friend Paul Silberberg, the firm's president, have a long and varied history of leadership in Federation and other Jewish and secular organizations. For example, firm partners dedicate 10 percent of their gross income to charity, and all CMS employees are encouraged to volunteer with community projects.

David J. Adelman will serve as moderator of the program.

Adelman is the president and CEO of Campus Apartments, a company, which provides housing for undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and support staff at various colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Under Adelman's leadership, the company has broadened its focus to include mixed-used projects on campus that incorporate both retail and office space together.

The company has increased its revenues by 300 percent over the last five years.

Adelman's commitment to his clients extends to initiating and funding other types of projects that enhance the quality of student life on American campuses.

One of them is the University City District, a partnership between the University of Pennsylvania and other institutions to improve the safety and cleanliness in communities around Penn's grounds and immediate area.

Moreover, Campus Apartments is the largest private-sector supporter of the district, contributing more than $500,000 over the past decade.

As for Glazer and Adelman, they are also members of Federation's Institute for Advanced Jewish Leadership, a program that identifies and prepares successful and emerging male and female professionals for high-profile roles in the Jewish community.

Firstrust Bank is a platinum sponsor of the JFRE conference.

Brett Studner, whose firm Odell Studner is a silver-level sponsor, emphasized the importance of businesses like his "being at the table with my peers and colleagues in the real estate industry at this critical juncture."

Studner added that "by supporting JFRE events, I am helping to create a community of Jewish professionals who are ready, willing and able to respond to issues of concern to all of us."

As of publication deadline, Kaplin Stewart has also committed itself to being a silver-level sponsor.

To learn more about the conference or JFRE membership, call Rob Meyer, Federation's Director of Leadership Development at 215-832-0585 or e-mail him at: rmeyer@ philafederation.org.

JFRE members may sign up for the conference online at: www.JFRE.net.

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