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Walker & Dunlop President To Retire After 43 Years With Company

The president of real estate finance firm Walker & Dunlop, Howard Smith III, plans to retire at the end of the year, the company announced Tuesday.

Walker & Dunlop President Howard Smith III with CEO and Chairman Willy Walker.

Smith, who also served on the board of directors, started his career at the Bethesda-based company in 1980. He joined the management team in 1988, was promoted to chief operating officer in 2004 and then to president in 2015. He will not seek re-election to the board after his retirement, according to a release.

“Howard has been an exceptional partner in growing Walker & Dunlop from a small, family-owned company in 1980 to the 6th largest lender to commercial real estate in the United States in 2022," Walker & Dunlop CEO and Chairman Willy Walker said in the release.

“Howard's contributions throughout his career to our industry, our company, and the Greater Washington community are numerous and profound. And while Howard will be dearly missed, his greatest legacy is the exceptional group of executives and managers at Walker & Dunlop that he so skillfully mentored and developed."

Smith will be succeeded by Walker & Dunlop Executive Vice Presidents Donald P. King III and Kris Mikkelsen, who will co-lead the company’s capital markets group.

“I want to thank the Walker family for giving me the opportunity 43 years ago to join Walker & Dunlop where I spent my entire career. I am honored to have been able to contribute to the company’s incredible growth during that time," Smith said in the release.  

“I leave behind an outstanding management team of great friends that will continue to grow W&D while maintaining the unique culture that defines this company."

Founded in 1937, Walker & Dunlop remained a small family company for decades and had 23 people when Walker joined in 2003, but the CEO then scaled it up dramatically over the last two decades to one of the nation's largest real estate finance firms. After growing to more than 1,300 employees, Walker & Dunlop announced in April it was laying off 8% of its workforce due to the disruptions in the capital markets caused by rising interest rates and bank failures.