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Office-to-Residential Conversions - Speaker Bios

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Philip M. Aftuck

Phil's primary responsibility at The Bernstein Companies is to oversee the acquisition and development of office to market-rate multifamily conversion opportunities nationally, specifically projects utilizing tax credit equity and alternative sources. Phil joined The Bernstein Companies in 2012 and since then, has created and implemented the firm's state tax credit platform, which under his leadership has sourced, underwrote, and monetized over $350 million in national tax credit equity for developments. As the tax credit platform flourished, Phil successfully integrated it with the firm's real-estate pedigree and in 2016, acquired Metro II, a 330,000 square-foot, historic, office building in Hyattsville, Maryland, a burgeoning suburb just outside of Washington, D.C. Under his leadership, Metro II was successfully converted into The Highline, a 338-unit apartment building which is now fully stabilized and is a recipient of the project's historic tax credit equity investor, J.P Morgan's "Deal of the Year"' award in 2019. Phil continues to grow the firm's adaptive reuse portfolio which now includes over 1,700 existing or under-development apartments equating to approximately 1.8 million square feet spanning from the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest. In addition to adaptive reuse opportunities, Phil plays an active role within the firm's capital markets strategy and outside investor fundraising efforts. He also has experience with hospitality acquisitions and ground up multifamily developments.

Sean Campion

Sean Campion is the Director of Housing and Economic Development Studies at the Citizens Budget Commission. His research focuses on housing policy, economic development, and municipal finance. Prior to the Citizens Budget Commission, he worked at a public policy and urban development consulting firm and served as a Senior Budget and Policy Analyst at the NYC Independent Budget Office. Sean holds a BA in History from Yale University and a Master of City Planning degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Steven Paynter

Embodying the philosophy that diversity fosters innovation, Steven Paynter (OAA, ARB, Principal, Gensler Toronto) is widely recognized as an industry leader and an invaluable resource for market expertise to developers, landlords, and tenants alike. His ability to combine technical execution with elegant design and his commitment to each project makes him sought-after by clients across all industries.

Steven is frequently called on to provide thought leadership and regularly speaks on topics such as unlocking the value of Class B & C buildings by converting them to residential, shaping the future of cities, the urbanization of suburbia, and design of post-pandemic office buildings. Engaged in original research, he has led the development of a tool for rapid assessment of existing office building stock for ESG performance. Steven was nominated by Business Insider as one of their Top 100 People Transforming Business in 2022, and his work and leadership have been featured in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Calgary Herald, CBC, BBC, South China Morning Post, RTE and Architectural Record.

Engaged in professional outreach, he is an active member of the OAA, ULI, and CoreNet Global.

Yesim Sayin

Yesim Sayin is the founding Executive Director of the D.C. Policy Center. With over twenty years of public policy experience in the District of Columbia, Dr. Sayin is recognized by policymakers, advocates, and the media as a source of reliable, balanced analyses on the District’s economy and demography. Yesim’s research interests include economic and fiscal policy, urban economic development, housing, and education. She is especially focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing regional and interregional economic interdependencies and what this means for urban policy. Her work is frequently covered in the media, including the Washington Post, the Washington Business Journal, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, WAMU, and the Washington City Paper, among others.

Before joining the D.C. Policy Center, Dr. Sayin worked at the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Financial Officer leading the team that scored the fiscal impact of all legislation the District considered. She frequently testified on high profile legislation and worked closely with the executive and Council staff to ensure that policymakers fully understand the fiscal implications of their proposed legislation. Yesim also has worked in the private sector and consulted with international organizations on a large portfolio of public finance topics.

Yesim holds a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Bogazici University, located in Istanbul, Turkey.

Steve Smith

As a Principal at Cooper Carry, Steve has been a leader in bringing national recognition to the design work of the firm. With offices in Atlanta, New York, and Washington, D.C., Steve and his partners have built a firm that understands the strong ties between architecture, landscape, urban planning, and sustainability. Steve joined Cooper Carry in 1986 and has successfully completed many complex projects of various building types, particularly office, corporate, multi-family, and mixed-use. Steve has led large-scale design projects across the country representing more than $2 billion in cumulative construction value. One of the industry’s leading experts in adaptive-reuse design, Steve has been invited to speak at industry conferences and was a subject matter expert content provider for NAIOP’s Fundamentals of Adaptive Reuse course.

Steve received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame while also spending a year in the Notre Dame Rome Studies program in Italy. He is a member of ULI, CoreNet Global, DBIA, NAIOP, and the AIA.