Left: Blair Evans | Right: Riya Luthra

We are thrilled to announce that the winners of the inaugural BREAA Student Fellowships are graduate student Blair Evans & undergraduate student Riya Luthra. Blair & Riya were selected from a stellar group of candidates. Both are exceptional women with promising real estate careers ahead of them.

Please join us in congratulating Blair & Riya!

Blair Evans is a Haas MBA and Interdisciplinary Real Estate Certificate candidate. Blair has leveraged her background in economics and corporate real estate and to take a deeper dive into UC Berkeley’s real estate offerings. She has gained the praise of professors for her outstanding academic record and has built a growing network of peers as Co-President of the Haas Women in Leadership group, Vice President of Academics for the Berkeley Real Estate Club, and as the Haas Soccer Club Co-President. Blair joins BREAA with an unequivocal drive and intellectual curiosity to learn anything and everything about real estate and has made it clear that real estate is her industry of choice. Her work experience at Gap, Inc. and internships at Bridge Partners and Starwood Capital are just the beginning of what is sure to be a promising career in real estate.

Blair hopes to use her time as a BREAA Fellow to connect with the broader Berkeley real estate community of alumni and students and we are excited to welcome her as our inaugural Graduate BREAA Fellow. Following graduation in 2021, Blair hopes to join an institutional real estate firm and something tells us she will have no shortage of offers. In the interim, Blair is hard at work at Haas, including on the 2020 UT Austin National Real Estate Competition. We wish her and the team the best a luck and another Cal win!

Riya Luthra is a Haas School of Business Undergraduate pursuing a Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Real Estate and a Minor in City Planning. From the beginning of her UC Berkeley tenure, Riya has been dedicated to the Berkeley Real Estate community since joining the Undergraduate Real Estate Club (UREC) in her first semester where she now serves as the club’s Co-President. As a first-generation college student, she has already made impressive strides in academia and is celebrated by her professors and mentors, all while balancing impressive internships at Cushman & Wakefield, DivcoWest, and Hines. With her added experience as Student Ambassador for the ULI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative Committee and her California Real Estate Agent License, it’s clear Riya has an incredibly bright future in real estate, and we are excited to welcome her to BREAA.

Upon graduation in 2022, Riya is hoping to pursue a career in real estate investment and eventually launch her own investment team. As a BREAA Fellow, Riya is seeking to expand her network, build lasting relationships, and find mentors within the Berkeley Real Estate community to further her career aspirations. However, given Riya’s resume…she could mentor us on a few things too!

The inaugural BREAA Student Fellowship is generously sponsored by Perkins + Will, Bill Falik, Bob Lalanne and Alice Devine. Please contact a BREAA Board Member if you would like to join this generous group in supporting future student fellowships.


  • $3,000 Tuition Award

  • ​​Reimbursement for real estate-related educational programming, training, professional development and industry memberships

  • ​​Registration to all BREAA events

  • ​​Mentorship by an industry professional who will advise and provide guidance regarding professional development, participation in BREAA and the Bay Area commercial real estate community

  • ​​Participation in BREAA leadership meetings as a Student Fellow

  • ​​In-depth access to the established UC Berkeley real estate alumni network

Starting Top Left: Austin Rosso, Alysia Vigil, Brendan McKeon, Logan Woodruff, Courtney Bell

Editor's Note: Thank you to NAIOP for providing the excellent write-up below!

NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NAIOP SFBA) the premiere commercial real estate development association, announced today that the University of California, Berkeley’s team, Golden Vine Collaborative, has won the organization’s 31st Annual Real Estate Challenge.

The Real Estate Challenge, NAIOP SFBA’s version of the Big Game, is a real estate development competition between legendary rivals Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley (Cal). The unique program is designed to give graduate students hands-on experience in real estate development. Teams are charged with devising and successfully pitching a solution to a complex real-world real estate problem. Participants embark on an intensive ten-week journey in which they engage with a large number of project sponsor representatives and city officials as well as real estate industry professionals for guidance and mentoring along the way. The COVID-19 pandemic raised the bar even higher on this year’s competition necessitating all presentations be conducted online.

Coaching the Cal team to victory for the third year was Bill Falik, Managing Partner of Westpark Community Builders. The team members included Courtney Bell, Brendan McKeon, Austin Rosso, Alysia Vigil and Logan Woodruff. In addition to bragging rights, the Cal team took home the coveted James W. Brecht Memorial Golden Shovel and a $2,000 check for charity, compliments of Mechanics Bank.

This year’s site sponsor was Justin-Siena High School in Napa, the first school site and the first site in Napa County to be featured. The task for teams was to help the private Catholic school’s administration and board explore new and creative ways to develop and monetize its 40-acre campus located adjacent to Highway 29 just North of downtown Napa.

The Cal team wowed the jury with Siena Village, a mixed income housing community connecting the campus to the surrounding residential neighborhood and featuring 403 rental units including 41 affordable, eight for staff and 30 for boarding students. The proposal also includes 10,000 square feet of neighborhood serving retail, an emergency shelter and resilience hub, open space, a community garden and a connected bike and pedestrian network. 

The deal would entail an innovative ground lease with a master developer and a finance structure that would include a mix of equity, donor funds, and debt from tax exempt bonds. Projected master developer returns include a 15.09% IRR, return on cost of 5.06%, and an equity multiple of 2.59x. The proposal also includes 130,000 square feet of reimagined academic facilities designed for versatility and sharing agreements with local non-profits, as well as a new performing arts center and a new aquatics and tennis center. 

“Congratulations to the Cal team! We are so inspired by your bold vision, your hard work and the way you engaged our community in the process,” said David Holquin, President of Justin-Siena High School. “Both teams came up with many creative, forward-thinking ideas that will help us leverage our largest asset to benefit our student body today and into the future. We are most grateful!”

Stanford University 2020 Golden Shovel Team was coached by Todd Regonini, President and Chief Development Officer, Residential Development, Sares Regis. Team members included, Auja Little, Eleni Alexandraki, Joe Tobin, Mona Li and Travis Melvin.

This year’s esteemed Real Estate Challenge Jury was Chaired by Paul Stein, Managing Partner, SKS and included: Thomas Siewert, Partner, Terence J. Rose, Inc.; Michael Mulligan, Vice President, Real Estate Industries Group, Mechanics Bank; Tamsen Plume, Partner, Holland & Knight; Kelly Kline, Economic Development and Land Use Officer, City of San Jose; Chris Birdwell of Harlan Estate.

NAIOP SFBA Real Estate Challenge Chairman Dennis Williams, Managing Director, Northmarq Capital, who has served in a leadership role since 1992, once again lead the entire process and was back by popular demand for his 20th year as event Master of Ceremonies. Williams was supported by Co-Chairs and Challenge alumni, Lauren Young, Partner, Chief Risk and Compliance Officer, PCCP, LLC. and Alexandra Stoelzle, Director of Development and Land Planning, Kilroy Realty Corporation as well as committee members Lauren Pressman, Director of Investments, Hillspire and Charlie McEachron, Chief Operating Officer, Drawbridge Partners.

Click here to view the Challenge Program and presentation materials from both teams.

Go Bears!

Please help us congratulate our newest, most talented and hardest working BREAA leaders!

Our new officers for 2020 are:

  • President: Briana Harney

  • Vice President: Ashley Weinstein-Carnes

  • Vice President: Bill Doyle

  • Secretary: Tom Wight

  • Treasurer: Zach Chan

  • Past President: Evan Schwimmer

Our at-large Directors and leadership assignments for 2020 (in committee alpha order):

  • Communications Committee Chair: Eli Ceryak

  • Diversity and Student Engagement Chair: Justin Sharp

  • Events Committee Co-Chair: Alexandra Stoelzle

  • Events Committee Co-Chair: Allie Stein

  • Membership Committee Chair: Jon Mark

  • Strategic Committee Planning Chair: Jan Smidek

The BREAA leadership team would like to extend a special thank you to our outgoing president Evan Schwimmer for his hard work and dedication in leading the successful revamping of BREAA. We are in good hands with our new President, Briana Harney, who holds both an undergraduate degree and an MBA from Berkeley.


© 2020 by Berkeley Real Estate Alumni Association

For questions or comments, please contact site administrator.

  • BREAA LinkedIn