Lafayette Square Hires Onay Payne to Oversee Real Estate Division

Industry vet previously spent 19 years at Clarion Partners


Impact investment platform Lafayette Square has hired Onay Payne as managing director of real estate — a newly created role for the industry veteran — Commercial Observer can first report.

 In her new role, Payne will oversee Lafayette’s real estate division. With a mission to be a leading provider of impact-driven capital, the platform will deploy long-term capital and utilize a network of national service providers to support the revitalization of neighborhoods in historically marginalized communities.  

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Lafayette’s focus will be on redevelopments and the creation and preservation of affordable housing, and providing capital to real estate projects that cultivate both economic and social mobility.

Payne previously spent 19 years at Clarion Partners, where she most recently was an equity partner, managing director and portfolio manager, focused on private equity real estate investments in the United States and Mexico.

In addition to her new role as managing director, Payne will also join Lafayette Square’s investment committee, where she will oversee all of the firm’s broader real estate activities, including strategic joint venture partnerships and inclusive real estate development. 

“We are thrilled that Onay has joined Lafayette Square to build the third pillar of our impact investment platform,” Damien Dwin, founder and CEO of Lafayette Square, said. “Her background melds deep real estate investment expertise with a passion for creating positive impact in local communities.”

“I share Damien’s and the Lafayette Square team’s vision in leveraging an impact-driven investment approach to make a lasting difference in communities that have historically been overlooked and undercapitalized,” Payne added. 

Payne, whose industry career spans 25 years, got her start in JPMorgan Chase’s investment banking division. 

An honoree on Commercial Observer’s 2021 Power Finance list while she was at Clarion Partners, Payne oversaw several commingled funds and separate accounts — invested across various property types and markets — during her time at the firm. 

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University as well as an MBA from Harvard Business School. She’s a member of several industry groups, including the Harvard Alumni Real Estate Board, WX New York Women Executives in Real Estate, the Urban Land Institute and the Advisory Board of Building Cyber Security

Last month, Lafayette Square announced that its affiliates had entered into a new credit facility with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, which will be used to support the firm’s middle-market lending activities as part of its mission to achieve impact in local communities. 

“I’m honored to join such an innovative platform and help scale our real estate investment efforts to enact meaningful change in underserved areas,” Payne said. 

Cathy Cunningham can be reached at