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Industry Vets Remember Doug Shorenstein for Integrity, Humility

Doug Shorenstein, whose death Nov. 24 leaves a hole in the industry, was a leader with integrity and humility who cared about his business, people and the environment. This past week, Bisnow caught up with some of the people who knew Doug to share what they most admired about him.


Shorenstein president Glenn Shannon says people always key in on the same attributes he recognized in Doug: his humility, great sense of humor, devotion to family, integrity and pursuit of excellence.

It doesn't seem to matter how someone knew Doug. How he presented himself never changed, Glenn says.

"That authenticity, that's the thing that I think is most powerful and drove a lot of his personal and professional success," Glenn tells us. "He was just a person you felt good being around and being associated with."

Glenn says Doug's openness to engaging with others and carefully considering other points of view complemented an ability for leadership, vision and decisive action when it was needed.

Rising Realty Partners president Chris Rising tells us Doug was an "amazing person" who was unbelievably successful, but always humble and kind.


Doug certainly had his opinions, but he always sought collaboration when discussing issues, CEO of The Real Estate Roundtable Jeff DeBoer, tells us. Doug was in his 11th year on the organization's board of directors. That's Jeff and Doug above having one of those discussions.

Jeff says Doug allowed whoever was familiar with a policy agenda item to discuss it and he would listen, ask questions and then present a very well-informed point of view. "He was generally pretty open," Jeff tells us. "He was very collegial, very calm and very informed."

Doug wanted to know how a policy agenda item would affect not only his company and the real estate industry, but also how local communities would be affected—if proposals would create more jobs or better communities in general, Jeff tells us.

Jeff says Doug always had a very positive, can-do perspective. "I always found him extremely enjoyable to be around," Jeff tells us. "The energy level went up when he was in the conversation. He'll be missed terribly."


During his time serving as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Doug changed the structure of board meetings to encourage more active and open dialogue while keeping discussions focused on the economic and financial issues at hand, says John C. Williams, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. John called Doug a "bright beacon" during the financial crisis and economic downturn, always providing valuable insights—even after his time on the board.

In 2011, Doug was inducted into the Bay Area Council's Bay Area Business Hall of Fame (photo below) for building a local, very successful real estate operation into a national success story, but also because he was a very civically engaged and civically motivated individual, says Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, where Doug had also served as a member of the executive committee.

"He demonstrated in many ways his love for San Francisco and the Bay Area," Jim tells us.


Jim says Doug was very straightforward and clear, quickly cutting to the heart of the matter. He asked good questions, gave good advice and would stand up for the things he believed in, Jim tells us.

Jim recalls the Bay Area Council discussing what position it should take on the state's Global Warming Solutions Act back in 2006. It wasn't universally accepted that the business community should get behind the reduction of greenhouse gases, Jim says.

"But he really stood up and said we need to get behind this movement," Jim recalls. "So we endorsed it. What he had to say was what really moved the group."


Doug's passion for sustainability and the environment brought him to his involvement with the Environmental Defense Fund, where he served as a board member. He often shared with others in the industry what Shorenstein Properties was doing to advance sustainability. (Of the company's properties, 31 have achieved LEED Gold certification, including Shorenstein's Russ Building HQ in San Francisco, above).

EDF president Fred Krupp tells us Doug had rare integrity, and the way he treated everyone in a welcoming, warm way showed he valued each person and each point of view.

"The example of how he lived his life and how he related to people is one that I have no doubt will have a deep and long-lasting effect on those he came in contact with," Fred tells us.

Doug listened and approached each conversation as an opportunity to learn though he always had expertise and insight to offer, Fred says. "Because he wasn't insisting we do something a certain way, it almost made me and others listen to him all the more carefully," Fred tells us.


That's Doug, right, with his father, company founder Walter Shorenstein, above.

Doug's ability to connect with others was a key part in Shorenstein Properties' expansion, building strong relationships across the industry, Glenn tells us. It also created a culture within the company of open, unfiltered engagement where good ideas percolated up.

"That was a very positive environment in terms of feeding the health and the growth of the company," Glenn says.

That corporate culture remains as Doug's legacy. "He leaves a legacy of what you do, how you do it and why you do it that's really pervasive within the company," Glenn tells us. Those fundamentals of diligence, integrity and pursuit of excellence will continue, he says.