DC-Based Real Estate Organization AFIRE Names New CEO

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The Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE), a Washington, D.C.-based organization that tracks cross-border real estate investment, has named Gunnar Branson as its new CEO. He will replace retiring veteran James Fetgatter.

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Bisnow first reported that Branson is slated to take the helm in September, leaving his position as CEO of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAIREM). Branson has also served in leadership roles at GE Capital Real Estate and Heller Financial, according to an AFIRE news release.

“AFIRE is an essential forum for navigating the unique challenges of global institutional real estate investing, and I look forward to participating in that discussion,” Branson said in a prepared statement.

Under Branson’s leadership of seven years, NAREIM has emerged as a premier real estate association nationwide with membership controlling over $1 trillion in assets under management, according to the organization’s chair Peter DiCorpo. “While we will miss Gunnar’s spirit and drive, NAREIM is well-positioned to grow and be a key contributor to the future of real estate investment management,” DiCorpo told Commercial Observer in an email. NAREIM has established a recruiting committee to secure Branson’s successor, he added.

Fetgatter spent 27 years as the first and only full-time chief executive of AFIRE, whose exclusive membership includes principals and senior executives. During Fetgatter’s tenure, AFIRE has grown from “a small group of Dutch pension funds to a membership of approximately 200 global institutions from 21 countries,” said AFIRE Chairman Edward Casal in prepared remarks. Fetgatter led the organization in hosting conferences in 18 countries that welcomed two former U.S. presidents and former prime ministers of the U.K., Ireland, Spain and Australia,

“It has been my privilege to serve the members of AFIRE as chief executive for almost three decades and to be a part of the transformative growth of the association,” Fetgatter said in the release. “The members of AFIRE have been like family and many have become life-long friends. I have no doubt AFIRE will continue to prosper under the able leadership of Gunnar Branson.”