The Real Estate Investments Securities Association (REISA), the leading alternative investments association, has appointed John P. Harrison as its new executive director/CEO.

He will head up the association’s office in Indianapolis, reporting to the elected board of directors, which is comprised of 13 leading industry professionals.

Harrison comes to REISA with more than 20 years of association management experience, including 15 years in industry associations. Most recently, he was a vice president on the successful turnaround team of the paper industry’s association and executive director of its foundation.

He has also served on the management team of several other associations, both in the United States and abroad, and was part of the senior staff team for the Jerusalem International YMCA, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in the early 1990s. As a part of his past management duties at these associations, Harrison has overseen the organizational investment portfolios, growing them substantially.

In the field of association management, Harrison has published widely with peer-reviewed papers on techniques of membership research, marketing, event growth, and international expansion. In 2011, he received the Georgia Society of Association’s Chair’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Association Management. Harrison is completing a change leadership certificate program from Cornell University and has an MBA from Georgia State University and a B.S. in biology and psychology from the University of Georgia.

NREI spoke with Harrison about what issues the securities field is facing and what he expects to encounter while taking the reins at REISA in the midst of a difficult economy, especially during an election year.

An edited transcript of that interview follows.

NREI: What can you bring to REISA that you took from your years in industry associations? How did your work with, say, the paper industry help you with this new role?

John Harrison:That’s a great question. Most industry associations are alike in their mission –that is providing networks, knowledge, and advocacy—and in the basic ways they enact that mission: events, groups, best practices, knowledge management, prospering networks and the like. The industry’s unique subject matter changes, of course, but the approach to serving the members is very similar. Look at it this way, the skill set of building, say, a swimming pool and a skate park is very similar even though swimming and skateboarding aren’t. You could call in a swimmer or a skateboarder to help in elements of the design, but you might not want them in charge of the construction.

NREI: What is one of the biggest issues facing the alternative investment and securities field now? What is REISA going to do about it?

John Harrison: Determining the biggest issues and what to do about them is one of the key reasons REISA exists. Our members meet at conferences and symposia to explore the opportunities and challenges. They discuss ideas, tools and strategies to address them. This way we are collectively presented with a wide range of topics and work together, as a community, to determine possible solutions. In direct response to your question, I saw where Daniel Oschin, president of REISA's board of directors, commented at our due diligence conference just last month that some of the most significant challenges we face today as an industry are lack of regulatory clarity, shifting legislation, unstable capital markets and the turbulent global economy. He noted that this kind of unprecedented uncertainty creates an environment that makes it difficult for businesses to set and execute strategies, and incites apprehension and indecisiveness in investors.

NREI: What is coming out of Washington, D.C. this year or going on with the presidential race that can have a particularly strong impact on the industry?

John Harrison: You know, I was hoping you might ask that. Our keynoter this year, Newt Gingrich, has that as his very topic to address at the upcoming REISA conference in October in Las Vegas. Be there and get your answer.

NREI: What advice would you give to someone just starting out now in the commercial real estate field to prepare them for the future?

John Harrison: From where I sit, it’s important for anyone starting out, especially if they’re young and just out of school—although business schools pay precious little attention to alternatives—to develop the habit of continual learning and the mentality of true pride in what they’re doing. The actual product particulars change so keeping up with them is important, that’s the learning feature. And the drive to push them out there with excellence comes from the pride of doing a great job helping clients better grow and protect their hard-earned savings.

Balch Joins TNP Strategic Retail Trust

TNP Strategic Retail Trust Inc. appointed Dee R. Balch as a director and chief financial officer for the public non-traded REIT that invests in grocery and drug-store anchored, multi-tenant necessity retail properties and other real estate-related assets.

With more than 20 years of accounting and real estate experience, Balch previously served as controller with Thompson National Properties LLC. Prior to joining TNP, she spent two years as senior vice president, finance and accounting with Buchanan Street Partners, a real estate investment management company. Her career also includes 14 years with Ernst & Young, as well as Florida Power & Light Company, KPMG Peat Marwick and Citicorp Savings.

Waterfall Acquires Coldwell Banker Commercial Hunter

Waterfall Asset Management has acquired Coldwell Banker Commercial Hunter Realty, a real estate brokerage and advisory services firm that has worked for 15 years serving tenants and building owners in Manhattan.

The company will now do business as Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance, an independently owned and operated affiliate of the Coldwell Banker Commercial franchise system.

In addition to the Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance New York location, the firm will focus on expansion in major markets across the country under the executive leadership of CEO Obie Walli and President Bruce Weissberg. They will work to serve small businesses and the owners of commercial assets in the under $10 million range. Peter Sabesan and Richard Selig, the former owners of Coldwell Banker Commercial Hunter Realty, will remain with Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance.

At the same time, Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance appointed Bob Osbrink to develop and lead its growth into Southern California. Osbrink has more than four decades of commercial real estate experience, including serving as president, transaction services with Grubb and Ellis for 20 years.

New Hires for CBRE Global Investors/Strategic Partners Divisions

CBRE Global Investors promoted Mark Zikakis to senior managing director on the CBRE strategic partners U.S. team.

Zikakis, who joined the firm in 1998, is responsible for managing a 2.9 million sq. ft. portfolio of office buildings throughout the Northeast and Midwest markets for Strategic Partners U.S. His expertise includes repositioning assets by completing capital improvement plans, implementing creative marketing programs and reducing operating expenses to create value and achieve the best possible outcome at disposition.

Also, two professionals with CBRE Group Inc.’s U.S. investment properties institutional group will relocate to the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Ryan Clutter and Michael Blunt will join CBRE’s office investment sales team there.

Clutter, an executive vice president, serves the disposition needs of institutional investors throughout the Carolinas. Blunt, a senior vice president on the Philadelphia investment sales team specializes in institutional investment properties located primarily in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Northern Maryland.

Blunt also played an integral role in CBRE national partners, a partnership of 19 senior capital markets professionals focused on regional and multi-city portfolio transactions often valued at more than $100 million.

EVP Joins Grandbridge

Grandbridge Real Estate Capital hired Frank Guzikowski as executive vice president of agency lending, which includes Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA loan products.

His responsibilities include advising the firm’s national team of loan originators and clients on multifamily products and loan structures available through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA. He also will work with Grandbridge’s executive management team to grow the company’s overall multifamily lending business.

Lillibridge Names New EVP

Lillibridge Healthcare Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ventas Inc., named Charles W. Wagener executive vice president of property management and leasing.

Wagener comes to Ventas from Metropolis Investment Holdings Inc., a German-based company, where he had been a senior vice president responsible for leasing and was responsible for managing the performance of a portfolio that includes 6 million sq. ft. Before that, he was vice president of operations for the Chicago region of Equity Office Properties Trust, which included the oversight of 55 properties (more than 20 million sq. ft.) in seven states.

Hires at Transwestern in Phoenix, New Jersey

Megan Sherwood, a listing broker with 25 years of experience in real estate leasing, sales and management has joined Transwestern’s healthcare advisory team in Phoenix as senior vice president.

The firm also brought on Nick Kim and Lori Zuck to serve as managing directors to continue its strategic growth in New Jersey and expand its Northeast regional presence.

Sherwood specializes in landlord and tenant representation for healthcare and medical clients in the greater Phoenix area. She most recently served as a senior vice president of leasing and sales with The Plaza Companies, where she was responsible for the marketing, leasing, development and sales of more than 1.75 million sq. ft. of medical and commercial office space.

Sherwood has handled more than 1,200 transactions during her career and she brings a substantial portfolio of landlord clients, including institutional owners, publicly traded REITs and private owners. Among her tenant advisory clients are nephrology specialists, dental practices, cardiology practices and primary care physicians.

After spending the last several years in real estate development, Sherwood made the decision to switch gears and join a national brokerage firm.

In New Jersey, Kim will be responsible for overseeing and directing local efforts in the Northeast industrial division. In addition, his responsibilities will include new business development with local and multinational clients with a broad range of commercial real estate services, encompassing strategic planning, transaction management, investing, project coordination, negotiation, market expertise and site acquisition for development.

Kim comes to Transwestern from Colliers International, where he specialized in office and industrial tenant representation.

Zuck will service industrial corporate users and owner/landlords through the entire process of their real estate matters. She specializes in strategic planning, developing long-term real estate solutions and implementation for clients and has 25 years of commercial real estate experience including expertise in industrial real estate matters for corporate users and owner/landlords.

Prior to joining Transwestern, Zuck served as managing director at Colliers International for 16 years in its industrial division and represented clients such as Fresh Direct, Breeze-Eastern, UniFirst, State Farm, Work Flow, Sears and Hartz Mountain Industries.

New SVP and SMD Join Cassidy Turley

Cassidy Turley hired Judd McArthur in the firm’s New York office as senior vice president. The firm also welcomed Chris White as senior managing director and principal of the firm’s Atlanta office.

McArthur will focus on providing tenant representation services with a specialty in office leasing in New York City. He brings 25 years of experience in brokerage and corporate real estate to the firm. Prior to joining Cassidy Turley, McArthur served as a senior vice president with Cresa, where he completed transactions on behalf of several high-profile clients including Vertrue, Oracle and Morgan Stanley.

White will manage key initiatives and clients for the tenant representation group and will also play a pivotal role in the firm’s Southeast corporate services practice.

He comes to Cassidy Turley from Cushman & Wakefield, where he served as a senior director of the company’s transaction services division, specializing in optimizing corporations’ local, national and international real estate platforms. White has been involved in more than 2.5 million sq. ft. of real estate transactions in the past four years. Representative clients include The Coca-Cola Company, AT&T, Kimberly-Clark, Delta Air Lines, and Siemens.

M&M Promotes Rose to VP

Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services promoted Bill Rose to vice president.

Rose currently serves as the national director of the company’s national retail group and co-national director of its net leased properties group, positions he will continue to hold. Rose is currently the western division operations chairman for ICSC and also is a past California director. He joined Marcus & Millichap’s San Diego office in September 2003 as a retail investment specialist and was promoted to senior associate in September 2006.

VP of Strategic Initiatives Hired at Rainmaker

The Rainmaker Group appointed Steve Tappert to vice president of strategic initiatives.

Tappert will serve as a member of the firm’s strategy and business development team and will design, acquire and implement new products and offerings within the Rainmaker LRO revenue management product suite.

As an original member of the Archstone revenue management team, Tappert consulted with The Rainmaker Group during the transition of the software offering to the Rainmaker LRO platform. He is also the creator of the newest product on the LRO platform, LRO Budget, an automated budgeting tool.

Prior to joining Rainmaker, Tappert served the multifamily industry for many years in various capacities. Most recently, as primary for Tappert Consulting Services LLC, he developed ABT (now known as LRO Budget). Designed to serve the needs of owners/operators looking to streamline the budgeting process, the system leverages data available within revenue management and property management systems to more accurately project budget targets.

Promotions at JLL

Jones Lang LaSalle has named three executives international directors: Faron Thompson in Atlanta and Christopher T. Roeder and Michael Casolo in the San Francisco Bay area.

Thompson leads the debt and equity practice group for the Atlanta capital markets office and is the national practice lead for multifamily agency finance. As a producing manager, he is involved in all facets of origination, underwriting, closing, servicing and asset management. He has a long association with Freddie Mac in the multi-housing arena, currently on his fourth term on the production advisory council.

Roeder, based in the firm’s San Francisco office, has consistently been a top producer in that city’s market where he is responsible for the San Francisco brokerage team and developing strategic leasing plans for one of the largest portfolio of institutional landlords in the city.

Casolo, based in Palo Alto, joined Jones Lang LaSalle in 2008 to support corporate clients in the Western United States with cost, performance and efficiency solutions. Earlier this year, he was named to lead corporate solutions services in the Pacific Northwest and now works with some of the firm’s largest multinational clients.

HFF Hires Senior Managing Director

HFF has brought on Jeffrey Thomas as a senior managing director in its Orange County, Calif. office focused on net lease investment sales nationally.

Prior to joining HFF, he was a senior vice president at CB Richard Ellis, with a focus on national net lease sales and completed more than $3.6 billion in investment sales while there. Before that, Thomas was a senior product manager at LoopNet.com, a San Francisco-based online commercial real estate listing service.

Two Pros to Lead Ernst & Young’s Construction and Real Estate Advisory Services

Ernst & Young LLP named Mark Gibson and Josh Herrenkohl co-leaders of the firm’s construction and real estate advisory services practice in the U.S. They succeed Mark Costello, who recently assumed the role of Ernst & Young global leader of real estate advisory services.

Gibson, who has 28 years experience in real estate advisory, operations and outsourcing, will manage the practice in the Western U.S. He also teaches operations and project management at New York University and international development at Columbia University. He is qualified as a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and is based in Irvine, Calif.

Herrenkohl will head up the practice in the East from his base in New York. He has more than 15 years experience in providing advisory services in the real estate sector and a significant track record of helping real estate and construction clients assess and implement leading practice processes, reporting structures, controls and technologies.

Two Managing Directors Join Clarion Partners

Clarion Partners hired Drew Fung and Thanh Bui to the company.

Fung joins Clarion as a managing director and head of debt investments following a 25-year career in real estate investment and debt capital markets. Bui joins Clarion as a managing director, bringing 15 years of experience in real estate, capital markets and investment management. She will be a senior member of the debt investment team, with responsibility for program development and implementation. Both were most recently with RREEF Real Estate.

Director of Lender Relations Comes to Eastern Union Commercial

Eastern Union Commercial welcomed Jake Gluck as the company’s director of lender relations.

In his newly created position, Gluck will work closely with the lending community to maximize coordination between lenders and Eastern Union’s team of 45 brokers in four locations. Among his duties, Gluck will collect up-to-date information about lenders serving Eastern Union clientele, such as new promotional rates, new lending criteria, borrower preferences, new rules, new thresholds, preferred transaction categories and geographical preferences. He will serve as Eastern Union’s ombudsman for the lending community and address questions or concerns that might arise in lenders’ dealings with the company.

In addition, Gluck will work with Eastern Union brokers as their clearinghouse and central point of contact with the lending community, and will ensure that borrowers are directed as efficiently as possible to lenders most likely to deliver the best possible financing.

Gluck most recently served as a freelance consultant for high-net worth real estate investors.

Principal Joins Lee & Associates Arizona

Lee & Associates Arizona has hired Scott Smith as a principal for the industrial team there.

Smith comes from the Lee & Associates office in Orange, Calif., where he started in 2002. Smith started his career at CB Richard Ellis in 1983 and worked as an industrial leasing and sales expert in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Henrich Joins A10

A10 hired David Henrich to head up business development efforts in the Mid-Atlantic and New England markets.

Henrich comes to A10 with more than 22 years of commercial mortgage experience with firms including NorthMarq Capital and GE Capital.

Weichert Adds Sales Associate

Weichert Commercial Brokerage Inc. hired Selvin Alvarez as a sales associate.

Prior to joining Weichert Commercial, Alvarez was with Weichert, Realtors in Fair Lawn, N.J., where, in 2011, he was the top listing/top selling agent and top gold service (mortgage services.) He also served as vice president of product development for Affordable Green Development LLC, a company dedicated to acquiring properties and redeveloping them with green technology.

Goldstein Group Hires Sales Associate

The Goldstein Group has brought on Emil Katri as a sales associate.

Katri brings more than 23 years of experience in the retail business sector and has worked with several department stores and gained expertise in retail marketing, store design, product placement and the daily operations of retail businesses. He has experience managing his self-owned single and multi-unit residential properties and is fluent in several languages. He will be specializing in Urban/Central business district locations

Lawyer Joins Venable

Real estate finance attorney Michael Peskowitz has joined the New York office of Venable LLP as a partner in its real estate practice group.

Peskowitz comes from the New York office of Sidley Austin, where he was a partner. His practice concentrates on commercial real estate finance, representing borrowers and lenders in the full range of debt and equity investment related to the development, ownership and management of real estate projects.