Left to Right: 2014 Commercial Real Estate luncheon honorees CBRE Group’s Executive President Gil Medina and M&T Bank’s Regional President Paula Mandell with the American Conference on Diversity President & CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley

Real estate, economic-development, and banking executives filled the ballroom at Mayfair Farms in West Orange, NJ, on June 17 to attend the American Conference on Diversity’s Commercial Real Estate Luncheon and to honor two industry titans — Gil Medina, Executive President of CBRE Group, Inc., and M&T Bank, an emerging business development leader in the Garden State.

“In New Jersey, about 25 percent of employees — many in your own industries — will retire over the next few years and a new generation of leaders will have to fill these positions,” said American Conference on Diversity President and CEO Elizabeth Williams-Riley. “Leaders here today from the commercial real estate industry help us cultivate tomorrow’s leaders.”

Proceeds from the annual fundraising event support the American Conference on Diversity’s signature Lead for Diversity (LFD), a year-long leadership-development program designed to promote unity, increase diversity awareness, and ensure respect for people of all races, faiths, ethnicities, sexual identities/expressions, and ages. The initiative begins with a summer residential retreat that brings together teams of students from high schools across New Jersey. Students create diversity action plans specific to their school district, which they implement throughout the school year. Each year, the LFD schools’ action plans impact an estimated 20,000 New Jersey students and educators. 

“It was only until I participated in LFD that I truly realized the importance of diversity education,” said Dakota Gibbs, youth speaker and a 2013 St. Benedict’s Preparatory School (Newark) LFD student delegate. “I learned the things that make us different also make us more together.”

The industry’s outpouring of support for diversity and inclusion education was evident as this year’s honors took to the podium to accept their awards:

CBRE’s Gil Medina shared insights about his hero, Albert Einstein. “Einstein was one of the first to advocate for the Jewish homeland, and he was hated by the Nazis,” he said. “Yet this little man who could have conformed to the status quo stood up against injustice. He was compassionate about fighting racism…Einstein and the American Conference on Diversity represent the values that we care about at CBRE.”

M&T Bank’s award was accepted by Regional President Paula Mandell, who said: “We’ve always believed that the success of our business is directly tied to the health and vitality of the communities that we serve. And creating a more inclusive society is good for business.”

Special thanks to the Annual Commercial Real Estate Luncheon supporters: Dave Gibbons, Elberon Development Co., L. Robert Lieb and Michael Seeve, Mountain Development Corp., and Jeffrey Hipschaman, CBRE (co-chairs); M&T Bank (vice chair); Jones Lang LaSalle and Solix Inc. (sponsors); Advance Realty (underwriter); Nexus Properties and The Landis Group (contributors); and BNE Real Estate/ARC Properties, Charles Klatskin Co. Inc., PS&S, LLC, and Withum Smith+Brown (patrons).

Experience our Lead for Diversity program firsthand and join us Tuesday, July 15, for visitors’ day at the Pocono Environmental Education Center in Dingmans Ferry, PA (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Reporters are welcome to attend on July 17, when school advisors will be joining their students for action planning. Please contact Damica at 732-745-9330 or to register. Advance registration is required; no one will be allowed to attend without advance confirmation.


About the American Conference on Diversity

The programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders; enhancing our workplaces; and helping to create inclusive communities. The American Conference on Diversity, which has been serving schools, organizations, workplaces, and communities in New Jersey since 1948, builds on a historic mission and creates programs and activities relevant and vital to 21st Century life. It is a journey we can all take together. The American Conference on Diversity operates Regional Community Networks covering all of New Jersey. Visit to learn more.


Gail Zoppo

Media Relations Consultant

109 Church Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901