Lesley Horton – CUP Leadership Board Spotlight – Nov. 2011

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?

I am a Staff Attorney at L&M Development Partners Inc. ("L&M"), a real estate development company responsible for over $2 billion of development and construction. Working with community, government and investment partners, L&M has built over 8,000 units of affordable and market rate housing in the tri-state area.  In my role as a Staff Attorney, I am responsible for negotiating and drafting contracts, including retail leases, construction contracts, license agreements and contracts of sale.  I manage and close development, acquisition, disposition and financing transactions.  In addition, I manage all litigation matters and oversee our outside counsel on those matters.

I began working at L&M in June of 2011, after working for almost three years as an Associate in the real estate department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.  I came to my current position at L&M through relationships that I established through my involvement in the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.  While I was already working in the area of commercial real estate, I developed an interest in the affordable housing and community development niche through my involvement on the Association’s Housing and Urban Development Committee, and I was presented with the opportunity to join L&M as a direct result of connections I made through serving on that committee.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?

The greatest challenge of my work at L&M is coordinating various parties, sometimes within a short time frame, to close a transaction.  The company constantly has acquisition and development deals in progress, in addition to the construction, management and leasing of all of our currently owned projects.  Given the quick pace of my deal flow, my work requires me to stay organized and extremely proactive in bringing parties together to successfully complete a transaction.

What is your proudest achievement?

As an alumnus of the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity ("SEO") Career Program, I have served as a volunteer for SEO's Scholars Program for high school students.  I am a firm believer in lifting as you climb, so my proudest achievement is having helped my two mentees, over the course of three years, prepare for, apply to and now transition to college from high school. They are now both college freshmen!

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?

I most admire those leaders who make it a point to give of themselves to help others while on their journey to achieving their success.   It is easy for people to become consumed with their own agenda and careers, so those who are able to share their wealth, whether it is their wealth of wisdom, time or money, to have a positive impact on the lives of others are those that I most admire.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I see myself in a senior position within a real estate company or division.  I also see myself pursuing an entrepreneurial endeavor at some point.  I look forward to rising to the challenge of new opportunities that arise.  Also, what I know for sure is that I will continue to try to make a difference in my community in some way.

What would be your advice to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?

I would advise young people to be open minded and explore their interests.  Figure out what they are passionate about and how they can use that passion in a meaningful way.  Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t be afraid of failure.  A person may have to experience trial and error before figuring out what really works.