Doug and Nancy Abbey

The College of Environmental Design is honored to announce that it has received the largest gift in the college’s history from Nancy R. Abbey and Douglas D. Abbey. The historic donation provides endowed support for the College’s Master of Real Estate Development + Design Program, which has now been renamed as The Nancy and Douglas Abbey Master of Real Estate Development + Design Program. The $7.5 million gift was acknowledged on December 15, 2020 when UC Berkeley’s Chancellor Carol Christ formally thanked the Abbeys in a virtual celebration along with the college’s leadership and friends of the MRED+D program.

The Abbey gift will enable the College to more rapidly develop and expand the young program, founded in 2018 and currently educating its third cohort of students. The program will continue to push the boundaries of sustainable urbanism and will uphold its stature as one of the best stand-alone real estate development programs in the nation.

While it is common for the naming of a building or college to accompany a philanthropic gift, only a handful of programs have been named in UC Berkeley’s history, making the gift even more unique and impactful.

With their pledge, the Abbeys have committed themselves to the education of future generations of real estate professionals — whose choices, from finance to policy, will shape the future of cities. Of particular importance to both the Abbeys and the program’s founding mission is to prepare students with the tools to address urban sustainability, equity, and resilience. Most important, the Abbey MRED+D Program will continue to educate professionals with expertise in real estate finance, an attribute critical to successful projects from affordable housing to commercial real estate.

Both Nancy and Doug are graduates of UC Berkeley — Nancy is an alumna of the Haas School of Business’ M.B.A program, and Doug is an alumnus of CED’s Master of City and Regional Planning program.

The Abbeys’ dual background, with Doug having crafted his own real estate development program by taking courses across campus, embodies the scope of the MRED+D program. Furthermore, MRED+D supports the real estate industry by advancing CED’s long standing focus on equity and social infrastructure as students learn the fundamentals of finance, economics, market analysis, development law, and more.

The Abbeys’ motivation to provide this support comes from a deep personal commitment to real estate education and the careers of those who will guide the future of our built environment. Doug Abbey observes, “As a student, I combined my planning studies with courses in law and business. Today’s MRED+D program accomplishes what I had to piece together and this pleases me greatly.” Abbey has provided guest lectures and mentored UC Berkeley MRED+D students. “I have gotten to know the MRED+D students, which has been a joy for me personally, and I am deeply impressed by their talents and drive. Nancy and I want to enrich their careers and give back to UC Berkeley and the Bay Area. We are thrilled to accomplish that with our support.”

“This historic gift from Douglas and Nancy Abbey ensures that CED can continue to educate future leaders in building equitable, resilient, and socially responsible communities,” added Vishaan Chakrabarti, dean of the College of Environmental Design. “The Abbeys have dedicated their careers and lives to these values, and we are dedicated to upholding those values as we grow this program in their name.”

Nancy Abbey holds a B.A. from UNC Chapel Hill and an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Nancy serves on the Board of the Nantucket Historic Association and on the Advisory Board of Nest, a non-profit organization building a new handworker economy to increase global workforce inclusivity, improve women’s wellbeing, and preserve important cultural traditions around the world. Nancy has served as a board member at the Grabhorn Institute, a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and perpetuate the use of integrated type foundry, bookbinding, and letterpress printing.

Doug Abbey holds a B.A. from Amherst College and a Master’s in City Planning (M.C.P.) from UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. He is the Chairman of Swift Real Estate Partners, which he joined in 2012. Prior to Swift, Douglas co-founded two investment management organizations: AMB Property Corporation (merged with Prologis: NYSE) in 1983, now the largest global industrial REIT; and IHP Capital Partners, formed in 1992, a provider of equity to the single-family homebuilding industry.

Doug is also a trustee and past vice chairman of the Urban Land Institute and serves as chair of the ULI Foundation and on the board of the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing. Similarly, he serves on the board of BRIDGE Housing, the leading non-profit affordable housing developer on the West Coast with more than 13,000 units under management, founded by I. Donald Terner, for whom the campus’s Terner Center is named. As a former mentee of Don Terner, Doug stewarded the creation of the Terner Prize, a multi-year program that recognizes outstanding affordable housing projects across the country.

Together, Doug and Nancy belong to Builders of Berkeley, Cal’s program to recognize donors who have made gifts during their lifetimes in excess of $1M.

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

  • Nicolas Romano

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!