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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Kennedy Wilson Property Services Senior Vice President Christine Deschaine

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The young woman's name was Gorret. No one really knew how old she was. In Uganda, Gorret is a common name and she grew up as an orphan.

But here she was, the young woman probably in her early 20s, helping Kennedy Wilson Senior Vice President Christine Deschaine during a medical mission in the village of Kaihura. She was helping assist dentists and volunteers like Deschaine by gathering villagers to visit the dentist.

Deschaine appreciated Gorret's assistance and later asked the young woman what profession she'd like to be in. A nurse, Gorret said, but she had little income and limited future prospects.

Deschaine offered to help.

Kennedy Wilson Property Services' Christine Deschaine volunteers with Bringing Hope to the Family in Uganda.
Kennedy Wilson Property Services' Christine Deschaine volunteers with Bringing Hope to the Family in Uganda.

Through Faith Kunihura, the executive director of Bringing Hope to the Family, a nonprofit that changes families from dependency to self-sustainability with a holistic approach, Deschaine and her husband funded Gorret's nursing education.

Today, Gorret is a midwife and nurse. She has helped hundreds of villagers deliver babies, provided prenatal care to pregnant women and taken care of other medical needs for the village, Deschaine said.

"It was a calling," Deschaine told Bisnow. "When you are called you have to be obedient and take care of it. There is a joy that comes of it, but that's just a bonus. We try not to take the credit for ourselves. It belongs to our faith that we did it."

Deschaine is a senior vice president at Kennedy Wilson's Beverly Hills office. In her career as a broker, Deschaine has been part of the resurgence and revitalization of several retail properties across Los Angeles County, including Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, Burbank Village in Burbank and projects in Hollywood Boulevard, Marina del Rey and Culver City.

Though she's been very successful in her commercial real estate career, Deschaine is proud of her work volunteering in medical missions first in Brazil and now in Africa, where she visits every year.

"I love bringing hope to families," Deschaine said. "I think the first time when I went to Uganda I was very nervous because I didn't know what to expect. But once I got there, there was no more fear. I knew every year I would go back.

"I enjoy watching progress, when you see a person's life change based on your small effort," she said.

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?

Deschaine: As a commercial real estate broker at Kennedy Wilson, I act as an intermediary between buyers, sellers, lessors and lessees. I match up clients who have the same goals and create value for all parties to succeed.

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?

Deschaine: I’m passionate about helping others, and would love to serve globally, specifically in Uganda with Bringing Hope to the Family. For 17 years, Bringing Hope to the Family has created real change in underserved communities, and for 10 of those years I’ve played an active part. Over the past 10 years we have built a “baby house” and the first self-sustaining building called Village Art, where a café, a craft store, a beauty salon and a bridal gown store are all located. Orphans living in this area can work at Village Art and earn a living. The profits at these stores go directly back to Bringing Hope to the Family. This year in the village of Kaihura, we’re building Kindergarten, P1 and P2 schools (for 6- to 8-year-olds) which will have approximately 280 students. I love being a part of this organization’s efforts to support these vulnerable children and adults.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

Deschaine: During college I was a server at a restaurant for one night. That evening I found out working in the food business was not for me. I could not balance waiting tables — from serving drinks to ordering their food and everything in between. 

Kennedy Wilson Property Services Christine Deschaine volunteers with Bringing Hope to the Family in Uganda.
Kennedy Wilson Property Services' Christine Deschaine volunteers with Bringing Hope to the Family in Uganda.

Bisnow: What was your first big deal?

Deschaine: My first big deal was pre-leasing Janns Court on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. It was one of the first mixed-use projects — combining residential, office and retail all under one roof.

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?

Deschaine: Not buying more stock in Apple and Starbucks.

Bisnow: If you could change one thing about the commercial real estate industry, what would it be? 

Deschaine: It's a great industry. Nothing really. I think the market and how we are handling things are just fine.

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Deschaine: I firmly believe everyone has the potential to be and do anything they set their mind to. Those who live below their potential are doing a disservice to themselves and their community.

Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?

Deschaine: My mother, Regina, was my greatest mentor. Her attitude was always about possibilities and helping others to achieve their goals, and I strive to be like her every day.

Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you've ever received?

Deschaine: The best advice: Be a good listener. The worst: Stay in “your” market and don’t branch out. It’s important to learn from other people, and learn other markets, especially in an area like Los Angeles.

Kennedy Wilson Property Services Christine Deschaine
Kennedy Wilson Property Services' Christine Deschaine

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

Deschaine: Business class on Emirates. Sometimes you just have to treat yourself to the little luxuries in life. 

Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

Deschaine: L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges, also known as Paul Bocuse or Bocuse. It’s a three-star Michelin restaurant in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Pr near Lyon, France.

Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?

Deschaine: I would ask this question — what can you do to keep business in the USA?

Bisnow: What's the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Deschaine: Over the last 10 years, I have served in the Congo for two weeks, specifically an area of the Congo that is surrounded by rebels and isn’t conducive to a lot of freedom to move out of the area. I’ve worked with Bringing Hope to the Family through organizations such as Embrace Uganda, Global Support Mission, Know Thick Act and now ThinSpace Africa. Over the last three years I have been working through Bel Air Church with Faith Kunihara, the executive director of Bringing Hope to the Family. With Bel Air Church, I teach people how to start a business or make their businesses better. By using a business plan template, I show new business owners what they need to create a self-sustaining business, including how to get their ideas into a product or service, how to raise capital and employ people and how to maintain their business.

Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit in your hometown? 

Deschaine: Downtown Detroit. I like to visit the area because of the new revitalization, the stadiums for Lions and Tiger sports teams and all the new mixed-use startup office companies who have revitalized the area.

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

Deschaine: The well-being of my family and friends is very important to me. Anytime a family member is in need or has a health challenge, that keeps me up at night.

Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?

Deschaine: I’m passionate about my service to the Village of Kaihura and Bringing Hope to the Family orphanage. I’m fortunate to have been born in the United States as being born here automatically gives me a certain amount of privilege. My passion comes from serving people who don’t have their basic needs met. These basic needs include clean water, a good education and a healthcare program. This organization creates an opportunity to help others who don’t have these basic needs and seeing the results before your eyes is incredibly heartwarming. Seeing kids who aren’t sick anymore or students who have graduated and want to continue their education at university, is simply life changing, because without our donors and team members, they wouldn’t have access to any of these simple amenities that we take for granted.