LISC Milwaukee: Associates in commercial real estate (ACRE) graduates walk the aisle

Contact: Dawn Hutchison-Weiss, Senior Program Officer
Office: 414-930-1760
Cell: 608-215-3262

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – The 2016-2017 ACRE class graduated at a ceremony for friends and family held at Marquette University’s Alumni Memorial Union on June 13th, 2017. Designed to cultivate minority leadership in the field of real estate, property management and construction, ACRE is coordinated by LISC Milwaukee, a nationally-affiliated community development nonprofit, in partnership with Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The 26-week program includes instruction from industry professionals, site visits, and hands-on development experience. This year, twenty students of all ages and backgrounds enhanced their skills, and are ready to work in Milwaukee and beyond. The program was founded in 2005 by Mark Eppli, Professor and Bell Chair, Marquette University. 220 students have graduated to date.

“The magic of ACRE is that it provides historically underrepresented groups with access to the information and skillsets needed to organically build wealth within our own communities. I’m honored to be part of that legacy, and confident that my strongest contributions to it are ahead of me,” said Anthony Gray, Class of 2017.

LISC’s Executive Director, Donsia Strong Hill, a graduate of the inaugural class in 2005, emceed the event. “I would not be standing before you today, were it not for this program. You don’t have to look far to see ACRE graduates demonstrating their leadership across this city in all sectors at all levels.”

Fatima Benhaddou represented her class as the graduate speaker, “The students tonight do share a reality, a reality in which it is difficult to find someone who looks like you, or shares the same background, doing the type of work you want to be doing. If I waited for the first half Latina half North African female Muslim developer, I’m pretty sure I’d need to find some hobbies to fill my time! The ACRE program was created to address this glaring issue in the real estate development field.”

Class of 2016 alumna, Ariam Kesete, AK Development LLC, talked about her transition from working in social services to real estate development, “Learning about Low Income Housing Credit projects helped me connect how important it is to connect real estate development to the needs of the community. I also learned how to meet the community where they’re at, to get things done.” Kasete also shared how she tries to “Think globally, act locally” by considering the broader needs of the community as she develops specific projects.

2016-2017 ACRE graduates include: Richard Badger, Rick Banks, Diane Beckley, Fatima Benhaddou, Francisco Bravo; Eferin Burns, Felix Castro, Deonna Chambers, Danita Graham, Bria Grant, Anthony Gray, Tameica Greene, Caleb Hutchins, Montavius Jones; Fatima Laster, Bobby Mcquay Jr., Abigail Ofori-Amoah, Luke Samalya, LaQuondra Shaw, Joaquin Soto.

Additional speakers included Dean Brian Till, Marquette University, School of Business School; Barry Mandel, The Mandel Group; Rocky Marcoux, City of Milwaukee; Wyman Winston, WHEDA; Chris Laurent, Cinnaire; and Mark Eppli, Marquette University.

The ACRE program is funded by The Mandel Group, Opus Foundation, and many other financial and real estate industry leaders.

About LISC: LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) Milwaukee helps transform distressed urban neighborhoods into healthy communities of choice and opportunity— great places to work, do business and raise children. Since 1995, LISC Milwaukee has invested $130 million in the central city by mobilizing resources for neighborhood revitalization and investing these funds through grants, loans and technical assistance to neighborhood-based community development efforts. More information is available at or

About Milwaukee School of Engineering: The Milwaukee School of Engineering is a private university located in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As of fall 2011, the university had an enrollment of more than 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students.

About Marquette University College of Business: Marquette is a Catholic and Jesuit university located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that offers more than 80 majors in its nationally and internationally recognized colleges and schools.

About UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP): UWM/SARUP is a Center of Excellence in the University of Wisconsin system, and offers an extensive array of degree programs—BSAS, M.Arch, Ph.D., MUP and Coordinated M.Arch/MUP, matched by only 6 other architecture schools nationally. The Ph.D. program is one of only 23 in the nation.