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Inspired By A Tragedy That Hit Home, One Real Estate Company Is Reaching Out To Those In Need


Commercial real estate, and the companies that build it, impact everything. From the stores people shop in, to the apartment buildings they live in, to the schools their children attend, CRE is everywhere, which is why commercial real estate firms need to think beyond their latest projects and toward their communities as a whole.

Lee & Associates is the largest broker-owned CRE firm in North America and it takes this mission to heart. Founded in 1979, the company deals in a wide variety of real estate services including commercial real estate brokerage and integrated services. In 2019, the company created CompassionateLEE, a charitable organization that hosts fundraising events and organizes outreach events that enable Lee & Associates members to give back to their communities.

“At its core, Lee & Associates is an organization made up of people who are doers, and that filters over into their private lives as well as work,” said Kate Jordan, a principal at Lee & Associates and chairperson for CompassionateLEE. “When we realized how many people were doing good things, we decided it would be beneficial to get some economy of scale and work together as a company to accomplish great things.” 

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey swept through Texas and severely impacted several Lee & Associates team members. The team banded together and quickly raised money to help those in need, which inspired the company to formally create CompassionateLEE two years later. 

The organization’s 2021 year-round initiatives include fundraising for The American Lung Association, an umbrella of Children’s Hospitals and The Trevor Project, among other charitable groups.

One group CompassionateLEE is backing this year is Wounded Warriors Family Support. The nonprofit offers assistance to the families of those who have been wounded, injured or killed during combat operations. This help goes beyond just the financial and extends to emotional and psychological support as well. The group also works with military and nonprofit partners to fill gaps in services for wounded veterans and their families.

“I would love to grow support for some of the organizations our employees are already supporting,” Jordan said. “I know from personal experience that when you are starting something from scratch, it can be hard to gain traction because you don’t have a track record. It is really amazing that we have the ability to bring in Lee’s substantial resources to support some of these wonderful organizations when they need it the most.” 

CompassionateLEE works with large charitable organizations as well, including Feeding America, the country’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization with a network of food banks, pantries and meal programs in nearly every community in the U.S. 

Jordan said that this charitable work ties into the company’s mission as real estate professionals. Often, she said, people remark on how Lee brokers have gone above and beyond to help them. Helping larger communities seems like the natural next step, she said.

“CRE professionals play an important role in their communities, representing the lifeblood of local, regional, national and international economic growth in their work with landlords, tenants, buyers and sellers,” Lee & Associates CEO Jeffrey Rinkov said. “We have a vested interest in the success of local communities and are compelled to give back through the donation of their time and funds in an effort to create improved conditions for the families and business residents in those communities.” 

He added that successful communities, buoyed by the charitable contributions from CRE professionals, create enhanced economic and job opportunities, higher property values and better rental rates and can become a catalyst for general business and economic growth. 

Kandi Jaeger, an executive office manager at Lee & Associates in Cincinnati and president of CompassionateLEE, said that her office regularly hosts events for schools, food banks and after-school programs like the Boys & Girls Club. 

Looking ahead, Jaeger hopes that CompassionateLEE can expand its reach on a national scale. 

“I would like to see a continued drive to increase our annual standing donations,” Jaeger said. “Finding the perfect scenario for folks to schedule an annual donation, feeling that tax deduction for charitable contributions, while having the good feeling that the donation is going first to our own in need, then supporting others within our communities nationwide that have a specific need.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Lee & Associates and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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