Think Wood: Your career pathway as a developer is unique. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into sustainable real estate development?
Anyeley Hallová: Yes, my journey to development is a long one. After completing an undergraduate degree in environmental systems technology, I went abroad to Costa Rica to study sustainable development in the 1990s. This experience inspired me to pursue a career that would involve working with the three pillars of sustainability—economic viability, social equity, and environmental stewardship. I eventually went into city planning and then got a degree in landscape architecture.
I participated in the ULI Hines Student Competition, which was my first exposure to development; I later began practicing as an urban designer and working with developers, but found that sustainability wasn’t always part of the equation. This drove me to switch to development. I thought if I could become the client, I could dictate the terms of the engagement and focus on more sustainable development. After gaining experience working in the field and after completing the Meyer Memorial Trust Headquarters—a project that made equitable design a central focus—I could not help but want to incorporate social equity into all of my future projects. For that reason, I started my own company with the intention of focusing on social equity issues as rigorously as I do sustainability.
You bring an important perspective that has been missing in real estate development. Can you talk a little more about that, and your firm’s mission?
The obvious thing that sets me apart is that I am a Black woman. Statistics show that less than 1% of developers are Black and/or Hispanic. So if you take Black and then if you take women, I don’t even know that there’s a stat that’s that small. As a result, I bring something really unique to the table with my lived experience as a Black woman. Having lived through certain experiences and having a passion for community—when you have that at the top leading a development project, it can empower and change the dynamics of the team, allowing them to focus on and push the limits on issues related to equity and sustainability. We want to bring innovation in sustainability and innovation in social equity.