Jeanne Pinado
Executive vice president, Colliers International commercial sales and equity placement team
Age: 59
Industry experience: 33 years 

After spending 20 years developing affordable housing, Jeanne Pinado says she’s ready for at least one more act in her real estate career. The former CEO of Madison Park Development Corp. joined Colliers International’s Boston office in January, becoming one of the first Black women in a top role in local commercial brokerage. Breaking down barriers in real estate runs in Pinado’s family: her late father Alan was one of the first Black executives for New York Life Insurance in the 1960s, and later set up a real estate institute at Atlanta University and Morehouse College, where he taught for 16 years. 

Q: Why was this the right time for you to make the move to commercial brokerage?
A: I didn’t think I’d be there 20 years, but I had a lot of fun growing the [Madison Park Development Corp.] organization. If you drive through Madison Park, it doesn’t look anything like 20 years ago. Affordable housing is a pretty profitable business, particularly if you have Section 8 contracts and you’re a good steward of the asset. I left them with a $30 million endowment, and it’s because we were able to refinance a lot of the older properties. 

 I’ve known [Colliers Managing Director Frank Petz] for a long time and when he heard I was leaving Madison Park, he said, “What are you going to do?” I said, “I don’t know. I want to take 2020 and talk to people like you and figure out what’s next.” I’ve been pretty focused on community development and the neighborhoods, but I could see doing something national and different. One day he said, “We’re going to do a pitch to an owner selling a downtown property, and you’re going to be on the pitch.” Frank is clearly invested in my success. It’s always about people: you want to join a firm where you have a relationship, and you feel there’s mutual regard for each other’s capabilities and everybody is invested in each other’s success. 

Q: How did the real estate and development scene change in Roxbury during your time at Madison Park?
A: It’s a big shift. Twenty years ago, if the city put out [a request for proposals on] a parcel, maybe a couple of small affordable housing developers would compete. And Madison Park could be on any team and do whatever it wanted, because we had a reputation of doing good projects. Now they’ve got to compete. You saw the city put out the land [at 135 Dudley St.] where the Boston Police Area B-2 police station was, and that attracted national competition. So that was the first time I’ve seen real national competition right in Nubian Square. It needs to be a big enough site, and it needs to be a location people feel like it makes sense to do something large and impactful.  

Q: What’s held back progress on some of the remaining city-owned parcels, such as P3? 
A: I got there 20 years ago, and I would never have imagined that parcel P3 wouldn’t have been built by now. If developers don’t perform, then the city needs to hold their feet to the fire. Extensions for five or six or seven years – that doesn’t help the community, and that doesn’t help the city. 

Q: What are the characteristics of a good broker?
A: I’ve been in charge of managing people and processes and developing relationships. You can’t do development in the neighborhoods – these big public-private partnerships – without managing a lot of relationships: city and state officials and lenders and development partners and community leaders. All of those relationships were important and why Madison Park was successful. When I first came to Boston in 1988 out of business school, I went to work for this joint venture between Metropolitan Structures and a group of Black and Chinese investors. The [equity and inclusion requirements for development teams] coming out of Massport is stuff we were doing 30 years ago: a major development partnership with minority principals.  

Q: What are your goals as you work with Colliers’ Diversity and Inclusion program?
A: The president of Colliers just announced a partnership with Project REAP [Real Estate Associate Program]. It’s in five other cities, a training program that takes mid-career professionals and introduces them to commercial real estate through evening seminars, so they can keep their day job and get training and get hired. My goal is to get a Project REAP program here in Boston. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be here. It needs a sponsor, the kind of thing where NAIOP or ULI gets folks together to make it happen. 

Q: You’re one of the newest members of the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals. How much direction does the board take from the Boston Planning & Development Agency and its planning studies?
A: Once it gets to the ZBA, it’s kind of past the public approval phase, and now you’re looking at the specific variances they’re requesting and whether there’s still opposition. Typically, there’s not a lot, but I’ve been to all of two meetings. I’m seeing there are certain things you can tell they don’t like. The highly controversial stuff will just get passed over. Some stuff they don’t like on the residential side, such as people trying to put bedrooms in basements, they’ll just reject. There’s some hard-and-fast “we’re not allowing this” and when there’s a lot of public opposition and controversy, they’ll often pass. I don’t see a lot of conflicts with my work at Colliers, but we haven’t seen a big office development yet. 

Pinado’s Five Favorite Black History Month Movies 

  • BlacKkKlansman 
  • Glory 
  • Gone With The Wind 
  • Hidden Figures 
  • Shawshank Redemption 

Making the Move from Neighborhood Development to Downtown Brokerage

by Steve Adams time to read: 4 min