Lela Goren is driven by the power of buildings to create change – economic, social, historic.
She founded Lela Goren Group to build that kind of building. Magical physical spaces that bring people together, to create experiences that shift mindsets and expand possibilities. Economic opportunities for business, neighborhoods, communities. Foundations of the past, transformed to enrich the future.
Lela is a person who builds. As a real-estate developer and investor for 15 years, Lela has worked on millions of square feet of real estate and mixed-use developments in New York City, including residential, hospitality, office and retail in all phases of assembly, acquisition, finance, design, construction, sales and marketing. In 2016 she won the Women Builders Council Developer of the Year award.
Lela is an activist. As an intellectual property lawyer with a masters’ degree in international law, Lela saw change happen – or not – through the global systems of the United Nations, first in Geneva and then in New York City. She already knew how change happens at the grassroots: passionate, dedicated people roll up their sleeves and get to work. That’s how it happened when she was a college activist. And that’s how it continues to happen, having served on the boards of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Donor Direct, Equality Now and The New Israel Fund, earning her the 2013 Civic Spirit Award by the Women’s City Club of New York.
Lela is a person who can work at scale. Recently as Chief Development Officer at WeWork Lela oversaw design, development and construction on projects around the world. Later as Vice Chair she oversaw governmental affairs, helping to build WeWork into one of the fastest growing companies in New York City history.
Lela is an untiring optimist. When she was four, Lela rode on her grandfather’s construction truck in Israel, and saw Jews and Arabs working and building together. When she was 30, she walked the halls of the United Nations General Assembly, and saw a building that made space for the whole world. Today, she sees what unites the broad spectrum of people it takes to put up a building, and the future they can build together.
James Weichert is a real estate professional with over 10 years of experience in the acquisition, development, and operation of historic preservation projects for residential, mixed and commercial use.
James is currently serving in the Management and Operations lead for Alder Manor; involving close collaboration with City, New York State and Federal agencies on issues including zoning, land use, and historic preservation. Additional responsibilities include Grant/ RFP Management, Investor Relations, and Accounts Management.
Prior experience includes domestic and international event management of non-profit and political fundraisers as well as corporate events and project launches; and the planning and execution of multiple charity events. James holds an MBA from Fordham University and is an avid sailor.
Arana Hankin has over a decade of experience working in economic development and arts policy, planning and real estate development. As Senior Real Estate Development Manager at Lela Goren Group, she is charged with overseeing the adaptive reuse the historic Glenwood Power Plant.
With The Plant, Arana is responsible for shepherding the projects through the government review and permitting process, securing public and private financing, determining the design and construction strategy, as well as overseeing execution of each phase of development.
Previously Arana served as the Director of the Atlantic Yards Project, President of the Queens West Development Corporation, and Project Manager for the Columbia University/ Manhattanville expansion project in West Harlem for the New York State Empire State Development Corporation. She also served as the Assistant Secretary for Cultural and Economic Development in the Governor’s Office from 2007-2010. Since then she has worked as a real estate consultant on a number of large scale public and private real estate development projects in the planning, financing, and construction stages.
Arana earned her undergraduate degree from Howard University and her Master’s from Stanford University. She was a Loeb Fellow from 2013-2014 at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design where she studied placemaking and equitable real estate development models.
William Etundi Jr. is a leader within the global creative community and an event producer / experience designer. For the past 17 years, he has worked to produce large scale projects that mix social commentary, art and public spectacle.
William’s events have been experienced by over a hundred thousand guests, from Brooklyn to Miami, from the Louvre to the White House. His distinct style blends a sense of intimacy within a grand spectacle with the New York Times calling him "an impresario of the underground".
His work has been featured on the pages of the TED, The New York Times, Vogue, the Wall St. Journal, ID Magazine, Paper Magazine and was recently honored with a Shorty Award for Social Good.
In 2012, Etundi founded SeeMe, a scrappy side project of a website that blossomed into an international phenomenon with over a million members sharing, connecting, and commenting on creative work worldwide. Before SeeMe, Etundi was the creative lead for May First Technology, and a Junior Art Director with Saatchi & Saatchi.
Kevin Balktick is a special event producer, creative director, and promoter with more than a decade of experience.
Fusing extraordinary locations, spectacular artistry, and masterful production, he has created unique arts and entertainment experiences within churches, mansions, cemeteries, museums, libraries, theaters, docks, colonial fortresses, box trucks, subway cars, the city streets, and some of the New York City’s largest warehouse buildings.
In addition to his work with Lela Goren Group and You Are So Lucky, he is also currently the arts curator for the Mysteryland US festival produced by ID&T North America, and the founder and director of the Horizons: Perspectives on Psychedelics conference.
His work has been featured in The New York Times, National Public Radio, The Atlantic, The Guardian (UK), NHT (Japan), Wired.com, Hospitality Design, Gothamist, TimeOutNY, LA Weekly, and many other publications.
Mandisa has been producing events and cultivating communities in New York City since 2005. With Lela Goren Group, she’s been a producer of events at the Women’s Building, including the opening block party and the Annie Leibovitz's New York showing of “WOMEN: New Portraits”.
Before Lela Goren Group, Mandisa served as the Director of Community for SeeMe, guiding a global membership of hundreds of thousands of artists. She has previously worked as a community director for Jack Erwin and 3rd Ward Brooklyn, a multidisciplinary creator space in Bushwick Brooklyn.
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Mandisa has lived in New Jersey, California, Georgia & Louisiana due to her father's job at UPS. She originally moved to NYC for a boyfriend, but eventually finished college and started a career of connecting people to community through events and happenings that have touched the world.
Chloe Byruck has a decade of experience building mission-driven programs in Silicon Valley, India, Laos, and beyond. As a Senior Project Manager at Lela Goren Group, Chloe brings a background that spans business, real estate, communications, and design.
Before joining Lela Goren Group, Chloe worked as the COO of an innovation consultancy where she built partnerships and programs with major national organizations, including NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Chloe also co-founded an organization that supported cleantech, green building, and sustainable tourism through economic development and business acceleration programs. The impact of this work was recognized at the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference.
Chloe has bicoastal roots; she is not only a 6th generation New Yorker but also a 4th generation San Franciscan, where she contributes to her family real estate company. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and exploring nature.
Chloe earned her undergraduate degree in Architecture and Social Design from Washington University and her MBA from INSEAD.
Adam Goren is a “quant”, with experience in financial analysis and modeling, reporting systems, and expansion planning. He is responsible for the overall financial management and business operations of Lela Goren Group.
Prior to joining Lela Goren Group, Adam was part of the real estate team at WeWork, where he created and managed the team’s global reporting and underwriting systems.
Adam earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance, summa cum laude with honors, from the University of Georgia. He is an avid reader, investor, and traveler, having visited over 20 different countries across the globe.
Lexie Troiano is the Executive Assitant to the Lela Goren Group Team. She brings years of administrative experience from her past positions as a Executive/Personal Assistant.
Lexie has grown up with New York as her backyard, originally from New Jersey she now calls Brooklyn her home. She studied Art & Business Management and finds a way to bring her creative side into her administrative role. She has worked in various industries from hair, fashion and music to her previous work at a law firm.
Connie Harrigan has over 20 years of experience in the accounting field. Her experience ranges from Bookkeeping Manager, Accounting Manager to Assistant Controller. As Senior Accountant and HR Manager at Lela Goren Group, Connie brings a background that covers banking and CPA firms.
Prior to joining Lela Goren Group, Connie served as Assistant Controller for a construction and real estate company where she was very instrumental in providing financial advice and creating budgets and projections for major development projects.
Connie grew up in the Caribbean on the Island of Anguilla, but New York has been her home for over 15 years. In her leisure time, Connie enjoys traveling and fun adventures.
Connie earned her undergraduate degree in Accounting and Finance and then further her education with a MBA from Long Island University here in New York.
Sara Mirski has 25+ years of Real Estate Development experience. She has been involved in the Acquisition, Planning & Development of more than 4MM square feet in New York, Texas, and Minnesota. Her roles have included Property Manager, Owner's Representative, Chief Development Director, & Chief Operating Officer.
In her previous positions she played key roles in all phases of real estate development acquisitions, financing, strategic planning, and construction; managing the development process from acquisition to final sale or lease up. Sara has lead partnerships with key decision makers, generated new business, penetrated new markets, motivated and mentored teams, managed client relationships, and successfully completed large-scale and complex development projects with transaction values up to $300 million.
Named “40 Under 40” Rising Stars by Crain’s NY Business Magazine (2007), “Woman of Influence” by Real Estate New York Magazine, (2007) one of “Top Women in R/E and Construction” by Tri-State Real Estate Magazine (2008) one of “Outstanding Women in Building Industry” by Women Builders Council, Inc. (2009) and the cover story for “Pioneering Women in Real Estate” by Sokol Media (2014),
Sara recieved her MS in Real Estate Development and Investment from New York University. Originally from New Hampshire, Sara now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two sons.