Pamela Herbst’s career bridges two worlds – investment and nonprofit. She has more than 25 years of experience in real estate investment acquisitions and asset and portfolio management; in addition, Herbst serves as acting chair of the board of directors for The Home for Little Wanderers, with which she has been involved for seven years. In the latter capacity, she has guided The Home through the sale of the Knight Children’s Center, an aging facility in Jamaica Plain that had been in service since 1914, but which was no longer meeting the needs of The Home’s client base, and renovation was economically unfeasible for the organization.
Herbst spearheaded a $23 million fund drive, the Third Century Campaign, to facilitate the relocation to The Home’s rural 166-acre Walpole campus at Longview Farm. The new residences and modern education facilities will allow the organization to offer more services to more children aged five to 13 – all the while saving The Home an estimated $1 million annually from the consolidation of operations. The Knights Children’s Center was sold to Boston Residential Group, which will make it part of an apartment project with an affordable component.
Herbst began her career in real estate in 1980 at New England Life Insurance Company after college and took a position in asset management, which exposed her to the field of philanthropy due to New England Life’s support of the United Way and other nonprofit organizations.
The division was spun off in 1982 as Copley Real Estate Advisors. Copley merged with AEW in 1995 and she was invited to run its direct investment business, which focuses on acquisitions, asset management and portfolio management.
A Change Agent
The merger of Copley with AEW was a watershed event for Herbst. “A significant component of my new position was to serve as a change agent and meld two cultures, develop best practices for investment management and respect lots of differing opinions on the way to do it,” she said. In her early 40s at the time, with two young children, she spent considerable effort to achieve both personal and professional equanimity. It all worked out well in the end, she indicated.
As it turned out, AEW was also very active in philanthropic endeavors. Seven years ago, the management of its parent company, as well as AEW’s CEO Jeff Furber, invited Herbst to form and chair a real estate committee for The Home. She was soon invited to join the board and became vice chair more than three years ago, serving as acting chair for the last year.
Though she represents a nonprofit in her role as a member of The Home’s board and its real estate committee, she said, “I believe that it is critically important to approach business decisions with a for-profit mindset. You need to understand the underlying programs and the ones that break even or possibly generate profit that can support the ones that do not.”
Striking such a balance apparently draws on Herbst’s strengths, and she relishes the dual role. “I am blessed with loving my job!” she said.