Daniels alumna builds on success with new job in community development
As a child, Rebecca Macey (MS 2020) remembers sitting in the backseat of her parents’ car, gazing out at Chicago’s skyscrapers as they passed by her window. Her family would then visit the city’s many cultural neighborhoods for some people-watching and scrumptious food.
“We lived 30 minutes north of Chicago and about every month, we’d drive down to the city,” Macey said. “It was so different—lots of energy in an urban atmosphere. I was only 5 or 6 years old but I loved it.”
The memory goes a long way in explaining how Macey ended up with her master’s degree in real estate and the built environment from Daniels and her new job in community development.
“It’s that intersection where the built environment and human life connected that sparked my interest in community development,” she said.
She didn’t start out in the real estate industry though. She came to Denver in 2011 to study anthropology at the University of Denver after getting a bachelor’s degree in urban and regional studies from Cornell University.
She said her DU anthropology classes helped her grow and better define her life goals. While studying, she also landed a full-time job at DU as manager of exhibitions and programs.
By 2017, she opted to begin her master’s program at Daniels. It was a busy time. She continued with her DU job, became president of the Real Estate and Construction Management Club, served as a social enterprise fellow and became a mom—all while making the best grades in the program.
“I’ve always juggled a lot, so I don’t even think of it as multitasking,” she said. “All of those activities, projects and roles were more like opportunities for creativity, exploration and growth.”
She does admit, at times, she found it both challenging and stressful. “Especially after the pandemic hit. And I didn’t do it alone. I owe my accomplishments to my supportive husband, my toddler’s superhero teachers and the small carefree moments cuddling with my dogs or exploring the outdoors.”
In September 2020, two months before graduating, Macey took a job at the Colorado Department of Local Affairs as a housing development specialist where she’s now managing government loans and grants for affordable housing units throughout northeast Colorado.
In her new role, she’s awarded $4,330,291 in funds to build or rehab 130 units and she’s been involved with $13,553,002 worth of applications for 439 additional units. She said there are about 720 more units in the pipeline for the remainder of 2021.
“I’m basically connecting communities to resources—knowledge, capacity and funding—to get affordable housing projects off the ground and get families, seniors, homeless and other underserved populations into places to call homes.”
She’s particularly glad to be a part of administering the emergency rental assistance funds and keeping people housed during the pandemic. “We shifted a lot of energy towards that effort during COVID-19, and I’m very proud to be a part of that team.”
Macey uses lessons she learned in her real estate finance courses “practically every day” and she appreciates the experience she gained from the 2020 National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) annual real estate challenge, where Daniels graduate students compete in evaluating development opportunities. Macey and her team took top honors.
“It gives you experience from start to finish—you learn the full process—market research, feasibility and financial analysis, so you understand all the different components of development projects. It definitely made me feel more comfortable coming into my job.”
She continues to stay in contact with her teammates from the competition. “We still have group chats and see each other in random business meetings,” she said. “There were six members [on the team] and four of us ended up getting jobs in affordable housing—all in Denver so that’s kind of interesting.”