Berkeley Real Estate Alumni Association Celebrates in Style with Inaugural Gala at Chou Hall

Berkeley Real Estate Alumni Association, Bay Area, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, Fisher Center, G2 Insurance, Partner Engineering, Marcus & Millichap

By Tom Wight

The Berkeley Real Estate Alumni Association (BREAA) has connected hundreds of commercial real estate professionals in the Bay Area since its re-launch in early 2018. The organization celebrated a successful first year on Saturday, February 9th, with an Inaugural Gala at Chou Hall. 

Held on the top floor of the recently opened building for the Haas School of Business, the event began with a cocktail hour overlooking the campus followed by a full service gourmet dinner. Guests heard from a star-studded lineup of UC Berkeley leaders, including Professor Ken Rosen (Chairman of the Fisher Center), Professor Nancy Wallace (Co-Chair of the Fisher Center), Professor Ann Harrison (Dean of the Haas School of Business), Professor Bob Birgeneau (UC Chancellor Emeritus), and keynote speaker Chris Giles (COO of the Oakland Athletics and Haas MBA 2010). The guest of honor, Bob Lalanne (CED 1978), received the Berkeley Real Estate Impact Award for his “outstanding achievements, contributions, and leadership in the real estate community.” The event was sponsored by the Fisher Center and G2 Insurance, with additional support from chapter sponsors Partner Engineering and Marcus & Millichap.

The event felt like a reunion for the Berkeley alumni in attendance — a diverse who’s-who of the commercial real estate community. Because BREAA membership is open to alumni of any UC Berkeley school, the event was well-represented by former students of Cal undergrad, the College of Environmental Design, Berkeley Law, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the Haas School of Business. Graduation years ranged from as far back as the early 1960s to as recent as 2018. The success of the Berkeley real estate program was apparent, not only because of all the real estate company Presidents, CEOs, CFOs, and Managing Directors in attendance, but also because of the large contingent of young professionals participating in the event. BREAA welcomed past and present national champions of the UT Austin Real Estate competition and winners of the Golden Shovel, as well as several current undergraduate students who volunteered at the event.

Distinguished Berkeley faculty in attendance included Professor Jennifer Wolch (Dean of CED) Professor Carol Galante (CED), Professor Harrison Fraker (CED), Professor Dennis Williams (Haas), Professor Bill Falik (CED/Haas/BerkeleyLaw), Professor Emeritus Steve Chamberlin (Haas) and many other current and former faculty.

As guests dined at blue and gold tables adorned with BREAA-branded hard hat centerpieces, BREAA President Evan Schwimmer (Haas MBA 2010 and Sr. Vice President of the John Buck Company) kicked off the evening’s entertainment with a recap of BREAA’s successful first year and his vision for the organization moving forward. Allie Stein (CED 2016 and Project Manager at BRIDGE Housing) then took over as the event’s MC, introducing Ken Rosen and Nancy Wallace.

Now five weeks into the job, Dean Harrison spoke about the excellent state of the business school and the current and future challenges she plans to face head-on. One of her priorities is to grow and strengthen the school by increasing diversity and inclusion at all levels. She would also like to further grow the University’s research faculty in the fields of entrepreneurship, real estate, and green building. When speaking about Chou Hall, the Dean remarked that there was no better place to hold the Gala than “here, the greenest academic building in the U.S.”

As BREAA’s keynote speaker, Mr. Giles began with a brief summary of his exciting career path from Haas MBA to Director of Business Operations for the 49ers, to his current role as COO of the Oakland A’s. His illuminating presentation included a discussion of the planned “jewel box” stadium at Howard Terminal and the implementation of forward-thinking ticket pricing strategies to cater to younger fans who prefer a unique experience at every game.

BREAA’s Impact Award honoree Bob Lalanne (President of the Lalanne Group) was introduced by the UC Chancellor Emeritus Professor Bob Birgeneau, who touched on the need for new housing at UC Berkeley. Mr. Lalanne enthralled the crowd with colorful and inspiring anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of developing real estate at the University. His speech touched on the formation of the UC Berkeley Real Estate Task Force, and the challenges and achievements in getting Chou Hall and other University projects developed. In his concluding remarks he graciously thanked the many members of the audience who helped him along the way. Mr. Lalanne then humbly accepted the Berkeley Real Estate Impact Award from BREAA President Evan Schwimmer.

BREAA would like to thank all of the faculty, alumni, students and supporters who made the Inaugural Gala a huge success. If you are a Berkeley alumni who works in the commercial real estate industry you can learn more about BREAA at Sign up for our mailing list to stay up to date on future events, membership, and sponsorship opportunities. Go Bears!

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