Tomorrow night on June 23rd, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) will hold its annual gathering. But instead of the usual black-tie affair and banquet, the event has made a pivot and will feature an open bar with beverage offerings curated by Brooklyn Brewery, New York Distillery, and some of New York City’s top mixologists along with a variety of food tastings crafted by chefs from across the city. 

Some aspects of the event will remain the same, James Whelan, president of REBNY, tells “There will be great food, great drinks, great people. The chemistry will be there to catch up with acquaintances, do business and make deals.”

Whelan says the pandemic provided REBNY the opportunity to take a pause and reconsider the event. “What we realized is that what worked the best was the networking and that is what we wanted to emphasize” with the reimagined event. 

REBNY also wanted to highlight the philanthropic and diversity issues that it has been focusing on since the pandemic, Whelan says. 

For instance, REBNY has been supporting and fundraising for a nonprofit called Project Parachute, which works with tenants to keep them in their homes. “Maybe the tenant is having trouble paying rent,” Whelan says. “Project Parachute will help the tenant iron out whatever problems they might have in order to stay put.” REBNY raised $13 million for the nonprofit—money that was put to use during the toughest time of the pandemic. 

REBNY also worked with the City University of New York (CUNY) to help Project Destined launch a paid internship Program in Commercial Real Estate for diverse CUNY undergraduate students. 

Another recent endeavor was the REBNY Fellows Leadership Program that it created together with Coro New York Leadership Center, a civic leadership training organization. This initiative identifies diverse mid-level managers and provides them with leadership training through Coro. 

The goal for REBNY for all of these programs has been to reflect the city in which it operates, Whelan explains, “which is also why we repositioned the event.”