Associate Vice President of Real Estate, Portfolio Management & Planning


The University of Rochester, a member of the Association of American Universities, seeks an experienced real estate leader to serve as Associate Vice President of Real Estate, Portfolio Management & Planning (AVP). Real estate strategy has always played a vital role in this global research university and medical center, but it is particularly important now as they launch a new strategic plan that will define their collective direction and vision for the next seven years and beyond. Reporting to the Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance, CFO and Treasurer (EVP), the AVP is responsible for leading the stewardship of the University’s real estate assets and aligning future opportunities with the University’s long-term, institution-wide strategic objectives. This includes leading the acquisition, sale, leasing, and planning of real estate opportunities and managing real estate and space planning operations for the entire University portfolio as well as property management oversight for University-owned and managed properties that are rented or leased to others.

They are looking for a collaborative leader with strong communications skills who is comfortable working across multiple divisions to serve the University’s academic, clinical, and research missions. The University has a portfolio of 12 million sq. ft. of leased and owned property across multiple mixed-use campuses, 700 acres of land, and over 2 million sq. ft. of ambulatory and off-site facilities. The AVP will also serve as the expert in real estate transactions, valuation, opportunity structuring and negotiation, development and dispositions, lease administration, third-party development, and outsourcing strategies for owned, revenue-generating assets.

Working closely with the EVP, the AVP will assure that real estate strategy and capital investments align with the University’s strategic plan, institutional master plan, and long-term sustainable infrastructure needs. They will regularly deliver presentations to the Board of Trustees’ Facilities and Campus Planning committee as well as the Medical Center Board’s Facilities Committee.

For this position, the University is seeking a leader with at least 15 years of increasing responsibility in real estate and property management, including leadership, strategic vision, real estate development, problem-solving, team-building, client relationships, and staff management skills. A proven track record of senior leadership (minimum 10 years) in a complex environment is required. Experience in a higher education and/or academic medical environment is preferred.


The Associate Vice President of Real Estate, Portfolio Management & Planning will have a broad set of responsibilities that encompass the following:


  • Work closely with the EVP and other University leadership, including the President and Provost, to develop a real estate strategy that aligns with the institutional master planning process and University’s strategic plan.
  • Be accountable for University-wide policies that guide real estate and space need decisions of the entire University community;
  • Analyze real estate market data and develop trend analysis to project facility needs over time, presenting trend implications to the executive team;
  • Provide strategic vision, leadership, coordination, and administrative oversight to the department of Real Estate; administer the budgets for these areas and establish and implement short- and long-range goals, objectives, and strategic plans;
  • Analyze, evaluate, and develop real estate venture strategies using appropriate market assessment and financial techniques and forecasting resources and tools; lead and oversee implementation of these strategies;
  • Acquire and/or provide support for special real estate projects, including due diligence (ranging from market value assessment to marketing strategy development) and pricing strategies for diverse projects such as analyzing lease versus buy decisions and structuring offers;
  • Use knowledge of industry and market trends to develop and champion long-term strategies.


  • Develop a process for making informed decisions regarding the allocation of space to meet program needs and to ensure the valuable and limited resource of space is efficiently utilized to achieve the University’s strategic plan goals;
  • Oversee fiscal and operational aspects of real estate, portfolio, and space management business in a single unified structure;
  • Administer leases and real estate purchases and sales; manage external real estate consultants including property managers, accountants, and brokers;
  • Negotiate and supervise the administration of contracts such as service contracts, contracts for leases and sales, and purchases of real estate as well as disposition of assets;
  • Market properties held for re-sale, manage and/or dispose of properties, buy strategic properties, and manage all leases;
  • Develop and maximize the value of all owned and operated real estate;
  • Develop and monitor plans for all buildings; oversee development regulations affecting future campus development such as zoning, land use, etc., including special studies and reports in support of development;
  • Review issues of regulatory nature affecting development; recommend and coordinate initiatives to maximize development potential of properties and leaseholds;
  • Supervise real estate record keeping and report to senior leadership regularly;
  • Ensure building compliance with all Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs), including The Joint Commission, OSHA, fire codes, city ordinances, etc., with regard to real estate planning;
  • Manage and apply for annual property tax exemptions for owned real estate assets that generate revenue.


  • Develop, implement, streamline, and improve processes underlying transaction execution;
  • Utilize and update benchmarking to improve operations by implementing good ideas from other groups and other industries; share insights with the executive team;
  • Ensure continually evolving “best practices” are incorporated into the work product of the team;
  • Develop systems to continuously monitor the quality, safety, and appropriateness of service provided;
  • Coordinate review and audit of current space use to ensure efficiency;
  • Partner with key stakeholders to understand current needs and effectively forecast for future needs;
  • Effectively present complex topics in a concise manner to audiences at various levels and in various sizes;
  • Achieve measurable improvements in quality, cost reduction, and client satisfaction;
  • Audit and reconcile real estate and space functions for properties leased by the University, such as common area maintenance (CAM) charges.


  • Select, develop, mentor, and review the performance of direct reports;
  • Serve as a role model in all aspects of job performance and human relations skills;
  • Promote staff development by evaluating performance, coaching, identifying development goals, and arranging educational opportunities that enhance and encourage continued professional growth among staff.


The Associate Vice President of Real Estate, Portfolio Management & Planning will provide expertise and guidance in support of education, financial, research, and customer service objectives across the University of Rochester’s senior leadership team, including but not limited to:

  • Senior Associate Vice President for Facilities and Services;
  • Senior Associate Vice President for Finance;
  • General Counsel and office of counsel;
  • Departmental Deans;
  • Medical Center CEO;
  • CEO, COO, and CFO of Strong Memorial Hospital;
  • CEO, COO, and CFO of the Medical Faculty Group;
  • CEO, COO, and CFO at Affiliate Hospitals;
  • Chairs and faculty.

This position also works closely with both the University of Rochester Facilities and Campus Planning Committee and the University of Rochester Medical Center Facilities Committee.


The ideal candidate will have deep expertise and proficiency in complex negotiations, budgeting, and cost estimating as well as knowledge of the theory and practices of engineering and architecture related to acquisition, development, re-development, adaptive re-use, and best use of real estate assets.

Given the complexities of a large academic and health system, the ideal candidate will also be flexible and comfortable dealing with ambiguity within a highly matrixed organization.

Other desired experiences and expertise include:

  • Bachelor’s degree; an advanced degree in a relevant field is preferred.
  • Outstanding leadership skills with proven ability to motivate and collaborate with staff, peers, and stakeholders;
  • Experience giving successful board-level presentations;
  • Demonstrated expertise and proven success in the areas of real estate, acquisitions, dispositions, development, re-development, best use analysis, and adaptive re-use;
  • Strong business, analytical, and decision-making skills;
  • Strong and effective verbal and written communication skills;
  • Ability to analyze, act, and articulate based upon data-driven decision-making;
  • Proven ability to operate under pressure with multiple concurrent projects and objectives underway;
  • Thorough knowledge of commercial lease and related document structures; strong understanding of legal terminology with respect to leasing; strong understanding of real estate and property management terms and concepts;
  • Ability to set strategic vision and execute plans on time and within budget, holding team members accountable for outcomes;
  • Demonstrated ability to exercise sound judgment in making critical decisions and escalating issues as appropriate;
  • Self-confidence, with ability to accept and respond to challenges in a positive manner;
  • Demonstrated ability to build positive, effective relationships, work from a position of influence, and develop effective cross-functional relationships with senior leaders, staff, faculty, and management teams to set and execute performance goals;
  • High flexibility; ability to adapt quickly to a changing environment;
  • Comfort working effectively within a dynamic and occasionally ambiguous environment;
  • Experience achieving results through people in a complex environment;
  • Proven track record of strong lease negotiating skills.


Elizabeth Milavec, CPA, MBA

Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance

Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Liz is a financial and administrative leader with extensive experience in higher education. In 2022, the University of Rochester appointed her as their first EVP, CFO, and Treasurer. In this new role, she advises the Board of Trustees, the president, and other senior University leaders on critical financial matters and is responsible for financial and administrative services, which support both the University’s academic enterprise and integrated medical center. Liz first joined the University in 2016 as the associate vice president for Financial Operations and University Controller. In 2012, she was promoted to senior associate vice president (SAVP) for finance operations and deputy to the CFO. Before moving to Rochester, she served as AVP for finance and as the controller at Carnegie Mellon University, where she worked for more than a decade. Prior to her time with Carnegie Mellon, she served as a senior manager for the global accounting firm KPMG LLP, providing auditing and consulting solutions for 12 years to clients in healthcare and higher education. A Pittsburgh native, Liz graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Robert Morris University and holds an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester.


This is an inaugural position for the University and elevates the importance of real estate strategy across the institution.

This is an opportunity which:

  • Combines strategic vision, practical innovation, and transformative impact;
  • Plays an important role in shaping the university’s physical landscape and orchestrating optimal use of space via envisioning and executing real estate strategies that align with academic and administrative objectives;
  • Provides opportunities to foster sustainability, technology integration, and adaptability.

This role not only holds the potential to leave a lasting impact on the university but also to redefine the future of spaces in a rapidly evolving landscape.


The University of Rochester is conducting a national search with the assistance of Helbling, a ZRG company (, an executive search firm specializing in areas of facilities management, construction, engineering, and real estate development.


Please Submit Applications or Nominations to:

Helbling, a ZRG company

8000 Brooktree Road, Suite 100

Wexford, PA 15090


Jim Lord, Managing Director


O: +1.724.935.7500 x109

M: +1.412.445.1366




Managing Director

+1.724.935.7500 x109



As Managing Director, Jim performs client development and manages a team of consultants. He also plays an instrumental role in shaping Helbling’s strategic vision and enhancing their executive search capabilities.


A Helbling team member since 1998, Jim has had the opportunity to represent organizations within all of Helbling’s focus disciplines. In addition to securing professionals for higher education and healthcare clients, he conducts and manages mid- to senior-level searches for general, heavy civil, and specialty construction firms as well as real estate developers. Prior to joining Helbling, he was a Group Leader with an international consulting firm, providing executive assessment and development to the manufacturing industry.


Link to complete bio for Jim Lord.





Senior Associate



Jill DiGiovanni serves as a Senior Associate at ZRG Partners. She has 12 years of executive search and full life cycle recruiting experience focused within multiple industries including Real Estate & Facilities, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Financial Services, and Tech Services.


Prior to ZRG, Jill was a Recruiting Lead at Deloitte Consulting as well as a smaller boutique firm where she focused on recruiting and hiring Healthcare and Life Sciences space. Additionally, Jill was a business development lead in the commercial lending space and co-founded an online marketing and social media consultancy supporting startups to mid-sized businesses across multiple industries; both experiences further developing her strategic outreach and sourcing capabilities.

Jill has successfully completed hundreds of placements in a wide range of industries and functions; she is a trusted partner and collaborator who is passionate about guiding candidates and clients though the recruitment process.

Jill holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from University of Illinois at Chicago.