Kenyattah A. Robinson, MBA ’06, receives the Robert J. Swieringa Young Alumni Service Award
Helping public organizations to help the people they serve improve their quality of life is a major motivator that has resulted in rewarding achievements for Kenyattah A. Robinson, MBA '06.
As a vice president on the public institutions team at the real estate and investment management firm Jones Lang LaSalle, he and his team help public organizations to leverage and better utilize and/or monetize real property assets.
“There’s something very gratifying about creating tangible value for organizations whose interests may not always be tied to monetary incentives, and whose stakeholders include everyday public citizens who are simply trying to get basic services so they can live a decent quality of life,” he says. “The fact that we’ve helped the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs better utilize some of its vacant or underutilized real property to provide affordable, multifamily housing to veterans across the country has been extremely rewarding.”
Robinson chose Johnson because he believed it would be a perfect fit to help him achieve his goals: to work in a space in which private capital could be used to help provide societal benefits. It was the right choice for him: He credits his educational experience at Johnson with playing a key role in his personal and professional success, and says his Cornell connections have helped him to unlock his personal and professional potential. “I developed many life-long relationships upon which I continue to rely today to grow business, serve as a sounding board for decisions I’m facing, or simply retain perspective on what’s truly important in life,” he says.
“Business school was truly a transformative experience for me,” he says, “and staying connected to Johnson since graduation is one way I’ve been able to extend that same experience to many others.”
Robinson helps fellow alumni stay connected to Johnson and to one another through his involvement with the Johnson Club of Washington, D.C., including serving as the club’s co-president. “Much like I enjoy my career because I feel it allows me to create tangible value for my clients and the stakeholders they serve, there’s no better feeling than creating and executing an ‘experience’ that is both fun and enriching for a large group of people,” says Robinson. “It’s a lot of work but always fulfilling.”
Its biggest event, the club’s annual Predictions Dinner, involves the entire D.C.-area Cornell community, not just Johnson. This January, the club hosted its fifth Predictions Dinner, attracting nearly 90 participants. The Johnson Club of Washington, D.C., also hosts a “Trifecta” reception every summer, providing a great opportunity to connect Johnson alumni with current students in town for internships and newly admitted students. This year, Johnson Alumni Affairs and Development helped regional clubs in nine cities across the U.S. to host Trifecta receptions.
“I truly believe that our Johnson education is an asset of inherently high worth,” Robinson says. “And like any asset its value increases or decreases in direct proportion with efforts put toward its caretaking. So in that regard one might say the importance of staying connected with Johnson really comes from a perspective of self-interest: because by staying connected with Johnson, you enhance the value of your degree as well as the value the market places upon it.”
On being honored with the Robert J. Swieringa Young Alumni Service Award, Robinson says he is truly humbled to be considered of the same caliber as previous award recipients, many of whom he knows personally and for all of whom he holds a great deal of respect. “It meant a lot to share in the success of the achievement with my family and friends who were present the night I received the award,” he says. “I was also honored to receive personal notes of congratulations from Dean Swieringa and Bill Sanders, a former Cornell Trustee who founded LaSalle Partners, which is the predecessor organization to my current company, Jones Lang LaSalle. So in that regard the award means a profound sense of obligation, responsibility, and professional accountability to all of those who have and continue to believe in me.”