RISE Together is a minority-owned development firm bridging the communication gap, engaging with the community, and providing a connection between residents and businesses to foster significant growth and development opportunities in Boston.
High-Profile did a virtual sit-down with RISE Together’s CEO, Herby Duverné, about the company’s mission to put communities first, give everyone a seat at the table, and promote value creation in Boston’s neighborhoods.
High-Profile: Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Herby Duverné: I came to the United States at 20 years old from Haiti without money and speaking no English. From there I worked my way up from a grocery store bagger and janitor, put myself through college and graduate school, and achieved success in the world of corporate security and emergency management. I obtained both my undergraduate and master’s degrees from Northeastern University.
I have spent more time in Boston than any other place as a student, a business owner, entrepreneur, and developer. I was raised by a single mother who spent the majority of her times working so she could provide for me and my sister, and I believe that I am a product of my community. My community played a large part in shaping the way I grew up and who I am today, and I want to be part of the transformation of some of Greater Boston’s communities.
HP: What would you say has been your biggest challenge in life, both personally and professionally, thus far?
HD: Personally, my biggest challenge in life is seeing all the good that I could do and realizing that I am limited by time and sometimes resources. Professionally, my biggest challenge is making sense of the data in terms of where the economy will be in two to three years. Having the foresight to predict, especially in real estate, is key to success.
HP: How does one go from studying criminal justice in college to becoming a real estate developer?
HD: Ah. I have never been asked this question before. I am an entrepreneur and that means I am in the value creation business. When talking about building wealth, especially for Black and brown people, real estate is one that you can count on for a high level of success most of the time. Real estate and my work at RISE Together gives me an opportunity to see where I can create wealth throughout the community and with other people.
HP: Can you tell us how RISE Together came to be?
HD: I founded RISE Together as a development and investment company. I approached longtime friends Jim Grossmann and Brian Anderson, veterans in the real estate industry, to partner with me to create RISE Together.
HP: Your firm’s website reads, “Lifting all Boston communities through development.” How is RISE Together doing just that?
HD: RISE Together is currently working on several projects locally, and our goal is to ensure those communities are not only reflected in the projects we are creating, but they are participants in the success. Our method proactively brings people together, giving everyone a seat at the table, and working as one toward a common cause: a thriving, diverse, and healthy neighborhood.
HP: Can you share your firm’s mission?
HD: We have found a lack of consideration and flexibility in the existing development process. What I mean by that is, we have found landowners many times would like to participate in the longer-term value creation that comes with land redevelopment. The current development process is built around a sale of that asset that generates a one-time revenue event.
At RISE Together we approach these sellers and are flexible enough to allow them to contribute all or some part of this asset and stay in the entire development deal. This replaces their old income with a steadier source of income and in many cases increases the income. We also work with the seller to find job placement for their current employees in either the development or elsewhere. It’s a more holistic, inclusive, and flexible approach to real estate development that shares in the value creation.
HP: If you could share one piece advice for a young professional entering this industry, what would that be?
HD: I will say, without a doubt, it is to pick a mentor and a sponsor. A mentor is someone who can teach you what you need to know. A sponsor is someone who can open doors for you. Success in real estate has a lot to do with genuine relationships.