5 Minutes With Lauren Marcus

March 4, 2024
March 4, 2024
 
 
The HAND network is hard at work to address the growing housing affordability challenge across the Capital Region. Five Minutes With is a series highlighting these members and other stakeholders. This informal conversation delves into their recent projects, the affordable housing industry, and more. 
 
In this edition, we had the pleasure of chatting with Lauren Marcus, Partner at Tiber Hudson. Take a look at our dialogue below to discover Lauren’s journey in the industry, her work with institutional lenders, bond underwriters, developers, and municipal issuers, and insights on public speaking and the importance of mentorship.
 
 
HAND: Congratulations on your new role as Partner at Tiber Hudson! Can you tell us about your journey to this point, particularly your work with institutional lenders, bond underwriters, developers, and municipal issuers?
LM: I love talking about my journey to this point because, looking back on the spring of 2016, when I graduated from law school, I never thought I would be here. I graduated from GW Law without a job offer and a “B” grade point average, which seriously felt like the kiss of death. During that summer, I studied for the bar exam, and once the exam was over, I started my job search. I saw a posting for a fellowship position in the Official of the General Counsel at the DC Housing Authority (DCHA); I applied and was hired within two weeks! I really enjoyed my time at DCHA, and it was especially meaningful because I was given the opportunity to interact with so many residents. There is nothing more gratifying than helping someone put their voucher to work after being on a waitlist for 10+ years.

After about 18 months, I was ready to make the jump to the private sector. While working on an affordable housing deal (representing DCHA as the developer), I had my first interaction with Kent Neumann, a founding member of Tiber Hudson LLC. He explained a complex bond structure to the working group, which immediately caught my interest. After that meeting, my resume made its way to Kent (thanks to one of my amazing mentors), and the rest is history! This June, I’ll celebrate 6 years at Tiber Hudson. From day one, I was thrown into all of the action. At certain firms, younger associates aren’t given the opportunity to interact with major clients at meetings, conferences, etc. But at Tiber Hudson, the partners were intentional about building my confidence early on. We’re a boutique law firm, so associates are tasked with managing deals from start to finish early in their careers. That allowed me to start building key relationships with our underwriter, developer, and lender clients. I’ve gained their trust and respect over the last 6 years, and I attribute that to the latitude I was given to be so hands-on and independent during my early days at Tiber.

 
HAND: How did your previous role prepare you for this new position?
LM: Although my title is new, my day-to-day hasn’t changed. At Tiber Hudson, we close about 250 deals a year. In light of that volume, all of the attorneys take a very hands-on approach to our transactions. Whether it’s document drafting and negotiation, cash flow preparation, or obtaining a rating from a rating agency, we oversee it all. As I’ve progressed at the firm, I’ve taken on more client relationships and business-building opportunities. My prior position as a senior associate certainly helped me hone my skills in these areas. Now, as a partner, I have even more confidence in my abilities as a public finance attorney.
 
HAND: The announcement mentions that you have been a featured speaker at industry conferences. Could you share some insights or key takeaways from one of these speaking engagements?
LM: Answering this question makes me smile because I used to HATE public speaking! As I alluded to earlier, my partners have always been intentional about including me in every aspect of our business. With practice, I’ve become more confident in my abilities as a public speaker and subject matter expert. One of my main takeaways is that accepting these opportunities is an excellent way to promote your firm and your “brand” as an attorney/expert within the industry. I am always pleasantly surprised at the positive feedback I receive from industry folks when they’ve listened to one of my presentations. Public speaking has given me a greater appreciation of how speaking engagements drive business and distinguish Tiber Hudson from others in the industry.
 
HAND: Tiber Hudson is described as a leader in the affordable housing industry. What do you think sets the firm apart from others in the industry, and how do you see yourself contributing to its ongoing success?
LM: Tiber Hudson prides itself on being proactive—as opposed to reactive—when it comes to changing trends in the industry. Inside and outside of the firm, I feel so fortunate to work with an amazing group of thought leaders and innovators in this space. I never want to be the smartest person in the room, and I believe that good people and good energy attract the same. Having a mastery of bond finance is certainly important, but ultimately, I believe that being a good person goes a long way in attracting and maintaining client relationships. My work at Tiber Hudson has connected me with many talented individuals, many of whom have become great friends. The cultivation of genuine friendships in the industry is one way I hope to continue to add to the success of the firm.
 
HAND: Since it is this month is Women’s History Month, can you discuss any contributions or advancements made by s in the field of affordable housing that have inspired or influenced your work?
LM: I’m so happy that this question gives me a chance to shout out two amazing African American women in this industry: Alethia Nancoo, Partner in the Public & Infrastructure Finance practice group at Squire Patton Boggs and Anitra Androh, Partner in the Real Estate and Affordable Housing practice group at Polsinelli PC.  Alethia and Anitra have been mentoring me since the spring of 2018. Back then, I was doubtful about securing a job at a major law firm because I didn’t graduate at the top of my law school class. Both women have been so selfless in their mentorship, including reviewing my resume, connecting me with members of their network and even conducting mock job interviews! They’ve both created such big names for themselves in DC and around the country, despite facing adversity and unique challenges in their careers. I’ve certainly been a beneficiary of their dedication to supporting younger Black women in the field and as I progress in the industry, I hope to pay it forward and do the same.
 
HAND: What is your “why”? What keeps you motivated to continue your work in this space?
LM: My early days practicing at the DC Housing Authority laid an amazing foundation for my work in affordable housing. As a Legal Fellow and later Associate Attorney in the General Counsel’s office, I was often given the opportunity to work one-on-one with public housing residents. Public housing residents are some of the most vulnerable individuals in our city because for generations, many have been victims of economic disenfranchisement and gentrification that fails to incorporate their voices and values into the fabric of their revitalized communities. Working at DCHA really solidified my goal of building more equitable neighborhoods. It is the end-user of the housing product that I help to create that serves as my “why” each day.

 

HAND: What might you be doing if you weren’t working in this industry?
LM: If I wasn’t working in the industry, I would be living and working on an animal sanctuary. I LOVE animals, big and small. My husband and I foster dogs through the local Humane Rescue Alliance, and it brings me so much joy. With more free time and a larger space, I would foster and rehabilitate animals fulltime. The idea of an innocent animal suffering breaks my heart, so I’ll take as many animals as possible!

 

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