For those involved in the Washington, D.C. area commercial real estate business, Howard Smith ’76 is a familiar name and face. With over 40 years of experience at Walker & Dunlop, a commercial real estate financing firm where he serves as president, Smith is a titan in the industry. He has mentored many up-and-coming real estate professionals on their paths to success, among them several Episcopal graduates.
Smith believes that the qualities that make an Episcopal graduate an ideal candidate for any role are honesty, moral integrity, and respect for others. “You don’t have to teach them right from wrong,” Smith says. “In the hiring process, if you have someone you can trust and someone who gets along with others, you’re starting to eliminate some of the things that get in the way of successful employment.”
In May, Smith hired former EHS Honor Committee member LaMarr Datcher ’98 to join Walker & Dunlop as director of real estate finance for the firm’s small balance multifamily lending group. In his new role, Datcher is responsible for the origination and financing of multifamily properties throughout the Mid-Atlantic. In addition, he is a key member of building out the firm’s small balance lending platform, which is new as of this year.
“In a sense, it was a risk to take this role because I had grown my career in investment sales, prior to getting on the lending side of the business. It took me a while, but I made a good name for myself in that business. When I had the opportunity to explore joining Walker & Dunlop with Howard, it was at a time when my trajectory was rising,” says Datcher. “I was looking for a place where I could go long term, and I saw the opportunity to come in on the ground floor in a new business unit within an established major company.”
For Datcher, the EHS alumni network has been a vital and reliable source of connections. He has been able to connect with and learn from other Episcopal alumni who have given him valuable insights and opportunities.
Datcher says, “To me, who you work with and who you partner with in business is more important than what you will actually be doing. Once you are aligned with good people, you can figure out the project, the goal, and what it takes to be successful. It all starts at the top with Howard and trickles down to everyone else. The culture here is unparalleled from anything I have ever seen.”