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Josh Vance, CCIM
Tucker White, CCIM
Nate Hanks, CCIM
Brandon Duke, CCIM
KeyBank Real Estate Capital
Past President / 1st RVP / PR & Tech Co-Chair
First American Title
Randy Atkin, CCIM
PR & Tech Chair
Wes Christensen, CCIM
Marcus & Millichap
Chair & RealCon Chair
Jared Booth, CCIM
Mary Street, CCIM
Vectra Management Group
Danny Wall, CCIM
University of Utah
Utah CCIM Chapter
HALL OF FAME
FOUNDER, SORENSON ASSOCIATES
James Lee Sorenson believes in the power of entrepreneurship to change lives and entire communities. That's why he has become dedicated to the concept of impact investing--channeling funds into companies whose technologies or services will improve a community while also creating a financial return.
Sorenson is a veteran entrepreneur and investor. Early on, he acquired Utah Biomedical Test Labs, from which he spun out environmental testing laboratory DataChem. Later, as CEO of Sorenson Media, he oversaw the development of key digital compression software that enabled the rise of video on the internet. His team also pioneered the technology behind video relay services for deaf and hard-of-hearing people. That technology was spun out into Sorenson Communications, which was acquired in a 2005 private equity deal.
In recent years, Sorenson has become more active as an investor. And in the midst of all his professional success, he's become increasingly attracted to innovative, impactful philanthropy. He provided the seed money for the University Venture Fund at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, helping to create the largest studentrun investment fund in the world. That contribution came in 2001. In 2013, he returned to the David Eccles School of Business with a $13 million donation for an impact investing center, now known as the James Lee Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center (SGI Center).
And his gift to the school went far beyond financial resources-- Sorenson is active in the SGI Center, helping to set its direction and providing hands-on mentorship to participating students.
Seeds of an idea
James Sorenson grew up in a household that valued and encouraged service to others. His father, inventor and entrepreneur James LeVoy Sorenson, taught him the value of hard work and demonstrated philanthropy through his many donations to universities throughout Utah, among other endeavors. He says that his mother always displayed great empathy and was continually looking for ways to improve the human condition. "I aspire to have those qualities as well," he says.
Sorenson learned on his own the power of technology to transform lives.
As his team at Sorenson Communications developed and deployed video relay services for the deaf, enabling them to communicate online with anyone through an American Sign Language translator, he realized how impactful that technology truly was.
"It turned out to be a tremendous success," he says. "Along the way, as I'm realizing the financial aspects, the greater realization was the impact on this under-served community, in that it enabled much greater capability and employability for this population."
In developing countries, technology can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. "Tech is fundamental in terms of the transformation that's needed in many of the developing countries of the world," says Sorenson.
He points to the financial system in Kenya as an example. Kenya is one of the poorest countries in the world, he says, and many people there don't have access to healthcare, education or capital for starting or growing a business. "The leading cellular provider, Safari.com, developed a very good infrastructure for cellular there, which continues to grow," says Sorenson. And financial systems have piggy-backed on that cellular infrastructure, with 70 percent of banking transactions being completed via mobile transfers.
"That's a real game changer for people in that country. Of course, we have invested in businesses that are offering education--tech-enabled applications that can be delivered on sims-based telephones there. These are telephones that even the most poor have, that enable those children to be able to have resources to help in their education," he says.
Doing well while doing good
The Sorenson Global Impact Center benefits everyone involved with it: students, through experiential education opportunities; fledgling companies, through investment and mentorship; and communities, from the development of innovative solutions to complex problems.
Sorenson says that students at the SGI Center have an opportunity to work first-hand with social entrepreneurs and visit under-served areas of the world "to provide their time and energies in finding innovative solutions and facilitating investments." Each semester, roughly 50 students are involved in various forms of impact investing, from performing due diligence and helping underwrite investments to helping craft better public policy or finding ways to analyze and measure the results of social spending by governments around the world.
"We've made about 40 investments in the last three years all over the world," says Sorenson. Those investments encompass sustainable agriculture, clean energy and the environment, access to education, access to healthcare, poverty alleviation, conflict resolution and much more. "There's a tremendous pent-up demand, where you have four billion people living under $3,000 a year in terms of their incomes and have a real need for services," he says. "Those are great opportunities to be able to invest into in the future."
Sorenson says he sees a great desire among Millennials to make an impact in the world. He notes that Millennials and women will inherit up to $50 trillion over the next three decades, according to some estimates. And people in this demographic "have a much higher priority in their minds in terms of investing their money in impact investments or investments that benefit society."
"The next generation is where it's all going to get really great," he adds. "I can't tell you how impressed I am with this generation, which is more about equality, more about helping others and looking at ways that they can use their talents and abilities to help and lift others."
At the SGI Center, students get to help investors pinpoint worthwhile impact investment opportunities. Sorenson says the students perform much of the due diligence on potential opportunities, and then an investment committee of professional investors makes final decisions. When evaluating an opportunity, the students and investors are looking at the potential for social impact, the strength and quality of the management team, and the potential for the business to scale and be self-sustaining.
"When we place the money that we do, we're looking for something that can really grow and make a major, permanent difference," he says. "Impact investing has a tremendous potential to transform the landscape as it relates to those that may not have the opportunities that we have, or solve problems in the world today."
2018 AWARD RECIPIENT
Award accepted by Barbara Crane
Barbara M. Crane, CCIM, President at Barbara M. Crane in San Antonio, is a commercial real estate professional specializing in the sale and leasing of office properties and related development and consulting projects. During her 40 years in commercial real estate, Crane has worked on general brokerage, agency leasing services for property owners, tenant representation, and consultation for her clients including small businesses, law firms, large corporate users, developers and the Federal Reserve Bank.
Crane has been a CCIM Institute instructor since 2005 and was awarded CCIM Institute's Robert L. Ward Instructor of the Year in 2010. In 2013, she was also recognized as a "Woman of Influence" by Real Estate Forum Magazine in their 20th Anniversary Edition issue. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business at the University of Alabama and her Master of Public Policy & Management in International Business at Birmingham-Southern College. Crane currently serves as CCIM Institute's First Vice President.
CCIM OF THE YEAR
2018 AWARD RECIPIENT
BRANDON DUKE, CCIM
KeyBank Real Estate Capital
Brandon Duke, CCIM finances commercial real estate throughout the country with KeyBank Real Estate Capital. During his 20-year banking career Brandon has originated loans with four different financial institutions while moving his family through Arizona, Indiana and Utah.
Brandon was awarded the CCIM designation in 2007 and continues to remain active in the organization as the past President of the Utah Chapter and is currently the CCIM Regional Vice President for Utah, Colorado & Wyoming. Brandon also teaches the Real Estate Finance course in the University of Utah's Master of Real Estate Development program in the Fall. His greatest accomplishment is as a husband and father to three cool kids!
JOSH VANCE, CCIM
Josh has been with InterNet Properties since 1999. During this period he has covered a wide range of real estate disciplines, including the sales and leasing of office, retail, and...