At Cortland Partners, our focus is on acquiring and developing communities where people choose to live, while creating above-market returns for our investment partners.
We bring a full-service, strategic approach to real estate investment and management. With a clear mission of Creating Value for a Better Life, we serve our communities, residents, investors, and associates through thoughtful product and operating decisions. We believe price is what you pay, but value is what you receive. At Cortland, we compete beyond price to deliver exceptional value.
Our investment portfolio includes more than 22,000 apartment homes and touches over 45,000 residents throughout the Southern region of the United States.
Brad Brown joined Cortland Partners in 2010 to lead its Acquisitions team as Chief Acquisitions Officer. To his role, Brad brings more than 20 years of experience with acquisition and disposition of multifamily residential properties.
Over the course of his career, he has acquired and/or sold more than 200 apartment communities, representing 27,000 units with a total value of $1.2 billion. Aditionally, Brad has in-depth market knowledge of and project experience in the Southeast, Washington DC, Texas, and Colorado.
Before Cortland, Brad was Principal and Executive Vice President of Acquisitions and Dispositions for Miles Properties, Inc. During his decade-long leadership, Brad helped the company expand outside of Atlanta into 22 different cities in 11 states.
He is a licensed Georgia real estate broker and earned his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from The University of Kentucky.
John Builder is a Director of Investments for Cortland Partners' Florida portfolio. In this role, John is responsible for evaluating and managing the development and acquisition projects in all of Cortland’s major Florida markets. John brings more than 15 years of experience in investment-grade real estate acquisitions, portfolio management, joint ventures, and market-leading development to Cortland's Investments team.
Over the course of his career, John has served in a variety of senior management and advisory roles with several real estate investment firms. Prior to joining Cortland, John served as Principal for Palmetto Real Estate Advisors in Orlando, FL, a real estate advisory firm involved in valuation, land use, portfolio management, and ground-up, high rise apartment development. Previously, John was Senior Vice President and US Portfolio Manager for Toronto-based Jaymor Group. During his institutional real estate career as Director of Transactions for Prudential Real Estate Investors, and subsequently as Senior Director, North American Equity Investments for GE Real Estate, John was directly involved in the acquisition and development of more than $2 billion in commercial and multifamily real estate. John began his real estate investment career with Winter Properties as a Development Manager, focused on adaptive re-use and historic rehabilitation.
John earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Vanderbilt University and studied Real Estate in the graduate program at Georgia State University.
As Chief Operating Officer, Elias Assaly provides strategic and motivational leadership for the company’s day-to-day operational functions, including property management, information technology, marketing, corporate communications, and facilities management. With a focus on instilling a customer-centric culture, Elias leads over 600 associates in maximizing operational and financial performance through the flawless execution of a unique customer experience.
Elias’ work has resulted in global brand and service recognition, market-leading positioning of the assets he managed, and award-winning operations. His experience spans more than two decades of operational leadership in the hospitality industry, and his expertise includes developing operational strategy to maximize performance, leading innovation, and enhancing cultural alignment across company disciplines.
Prior to joining Cortland, Elias held leadership roles with the hospitality industry’s leading Hotel and Resort companies. Most recently, he served as Vice President of Operations for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, a leading luxury hospitality management firm with 11 luxury hotels and 7 exclusive resorts in 9 countries. In this role, Elias was responsible for developing the company’s operational strategy, globally rolling out new business and marketing plans, and ensuring the consistency of the company’s customer service culture. Previously, he held General Manager/Managing Director roles with Starwood Hotels & Resorts (St. Regis and W San Francisco), Rosewood Hotels & Resorts (Hotel Crescent Court, Dallas), and Williams Hospitality (Las Casitas Village, San Juan, Puerto Rico). Elias has also worked with the Ritz-Carlton (Buckhead) and Hyatt Hotels (Maui and Washington, DC).
Elias holds a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Oklahoma State University and a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from the American University of Beirut.
As the firm’s Chief Financial Officer, Ned Stiker provides strategic direction and leadership for the company’s finance, investor relations, and accounting functions and partners with the investment team in capital generation. To this role, Ned brings expertise in managing successful institutional investor relationships, developing and leading high-performing teams, as well as extensive experience in financial analysis and modeling.
Ned joined Cortland from Morgan Stanley's Institutional Securities Group, where he served in several leadership roles in interest rate products over the course of his 16 years with the company. Most recently, he was Managing Director, Global Interest Rates Products and Head of Global Macro Derivatives Product Marketing, Americas, where he was responsible for expanding Morgan Stanley’s structured rates client business, both domestically and globally. Previously, he served in other roles including Head of US Interest Rate Sales and Head of US Agency/GSE Coverage, in which capacity he was responsible for Morgan Stanley's interest rate relationships with FannieMae, FreddieMac, and the FHLB System. Over the course of his career with Morgan Stanley, Ned’s work resulted in strategic team development, which led to significant market share and revenue growth.
Prior to Morgan Stanley, Ned worked with UBS Securities as Director of Interest Rate Derivatives Marketing and with Bankers Trust Co. as an associate in their Investor Coverage Group. He began his career as a marketing representative with Marcam Corporation. He then went on to work in the radio industry as an account executive with WABC Radio, New York.
Ned holds his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Williams College, Williamstown, MA.
Note: Ned will begin his official employment with Cortland Partners on August 18, 2014.
Mike Altman joined Cortland Partners in 2007 as a Development Associate. Playing an instrumental role in growing the company, Mike became Executive Vice President of Investments in 2010 and Chief Investment Officer in 2013. He manages the life cycle process for acquisitions and oversees Cortland's lender relationships.
In his career, Mike has project managed more than 30 real estate renovations or new constructions. Before joining Cortland, Mike served as Development Manager with Hammond Development. He has a special interest in sustainable real estate practices, having piloted Georgia Power's Multifamily Energy Reduction program.
Mike earned his bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from The University of Georgia and his master's degree in Real Estate from Georgia State University. He is a licensed Georgia real estate broker. Mike also is associated with the Atlanta Multifamily Network, U.S. Green Building Council, the Urban Land Institute, and the Distressed Real Estate Debt Group.
Steven DeFrancis is both founder and CEO of Cortland Partners. Steven founded the company in 2005 primarily as a development firm with the intent of capitalizing on specific arbitrage opportunities to produce out-sized, risk-adjusted returns for investors. Today, the company has evolved into a full-service development, acquisition, and management firm whose current portfolio includes over 22,000 apartment homes. To date, Steven and his team manage a portfolio in excess of $2B of multi-family assets located throughout the Southeast and Texas. In 2013, Cortland was recognized by the Association for Corporate Growth as the third fastest growing company in Georgia.
Upon exiting college, Steven served as President and Owner of Capitol Realty, a family-owned real estate brokerage and property management firm located in Atlanta. In 1995, Steven cofounded Capitol Development Group, whose focus was the development of workforce multifamily properties in Georgia and Florida. He went on to develop over 5,000 apartment homes utilizing various affordable housing programs including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. His dedicated efforts took what began as a neighborhood property management company to a half billion dollar investment, development, and asset management company.
Throughout his career, Steven has specialized in complex multifamily development and management, specific to neighborhood revitalization and positive economic development. He builds on extensive political and business relationships to profitably execute on business opportunities.
Steven earned his bachelor’s degree in Real Estate from The University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. He currently resides in Atlanta with his wife and two children, Kennon and Jack.
As Executive Vice President of Investments for Cortland Partners, Paul Wrights leads the Investment team, which includes the firm's Directors of Investments for each portfolio, in the business planning and evaluation of the company's development and acquisition assets.
Before joining Cortland, Paul spent six years with GE Capital, most recently as Associate Director, focused on new business development, asset valuations, and deal structuring for transactions totaling more than $100MM. Paul began his career at GE Capital as part of the company's financial leadership program, where he supported CFOs of various capital business units with financial planning, analysis, and strategic pricing.
Paul is an active member of the Urban Land Institute's Young Leaders Group. He also mentors undergraduate business students at Emory University, where he earned his master's degree in Finance from Emory University. He also holds a bachelor's degree in Finance from The Ohio State University.
As the firm's Executive Vice President of Operations, Melanie French is responsible for overseeing property operations and performance, as well as Cortland's multiple operational support functions, which include sales and marketing, resident relations, corporate marketing and communications, quality/internal audit, loss prevention, energy sustainability, and ancillary services.
She is a CPM and brings more than 30 years of experience in the multifamily industry with more than 10 years in senior executive roles spanning property operations, human resources, operational support, conventional and affordable housing platforms, new construction, renovation and rehab, asset repositioning, transitions, and mixed-use, commercial, and industrial properties.
Over the course of her career, Melanie has worked with recognized industry leaders such as UDR, AIMCO, Calibre, and CompassRock. Prior to joining Cortland in 2013, Melanie served in several roles of increasing responsibility at AIMCO. She joined AIMCO in 1998 as a regional vice president, responsible for the daily operations and financial performance of more than 80 multifamily communities and 18,000 units across 5 states. In this role, Melanie was recognized by the CEO as a top performer, visionary, and strategic leader, which led her to serve in the following capacities over the course of her 13-year tenure with AIMCO: SVP, Human Resources, where she obtained her SPHR (Senior Professional of Human Resources) and built the learning and organizational development department from the ground up for more than 4,800 employees and 215,256 units across the country; SVP, Property Operations, where she oversaw all aspects of property operations for a portfolio of more than 700 apartment properties; and most recently, SVP, Northeast Area, where she directed the leadership, management, and operational responsibility for this region and achieved more than $157M annually in EGI and $122M annually in CNOI. Before joining AIMCO, Melanie served as Area Director with United Dominion Realty Trust, Inc. based in Richmond, VA.
Melanie began her career in the multifamily industry in 1981 as a leasing consultant with Johnstown American out of Atlanta, GA.
Scott Moore joined Cortland Partners 2011 as a Director of Investments. In this role, Scott oversaw the acquisition and redevelopment of 15 communities. In 2014, Scott leveraged his experience as a consultant to become the Executive Vice President of Strategy and Innovation. In this role, Scott identifies, captures, and delivers on great ideas while successfully driving innovation and performance throughout the organization to ensure thoughtful, efficient, and effective growth for Cortland.
His experience includes identifying development opportunities, managing the acquisitions process, securing entitlements, overseeing construction, and governing the marketing and lease up of multifamily assets.
Prior to joining Cortland, Scott was Development Manager with The Medallion Group, where he managed the development and redevelopment of apartment communities totaling more than $85MM in value. Previously, Scott worked with Accenture, specializing in complex transactions, business case development, financial analysis, and operational analytics for the global management consulting firm.
Scott holds two degrees from the University of Florida: a bachelor's degree in Finance and Economics; and a master's degree in Real Estate.
As Director of Investments for Texas, Nick Wilhelmson is responsible for Cortland's development and acquisition projects in all the major Texas markets. Previously, Nick served as Development Director for Alliance Residential Company. At Alliance, he oversaw all aspects of the development process and managed all owned assets in his region. He was involved in the development of more than 2,000 units throughout North Texas. He also worked with Alliance's national investments team on development and acquisitions totaling nearly $300MM.
Nick started his career in investment banking in 2001. He spent seven years in various structured finance roles with Wachovia Securities and Deutsche Bank. He is a member of The Real Estate Council of Dallas and the Greater Fort Worth Real Estate Council and is involved with the American Red Cross. Nick earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics at The University of Notre Dame.
As a Director of Investments, Brendan Sheehan is responsible for supervising third party management companies to ensure the highest quality project standards at Cortland Partners.
Before joining Cortland, Brendan served as Asset Manager with Capitol Development Group. In his role with Capitol, he managed apartment portfolios with a total value exceeding $400 million. He excels at facilitating rapid lease-ups and motivating teams to achieve results and exceed expectations.
Brendan holds the Housing Credit Certified Professional certification. He earned his bachelor's degree in History from James Madison University.
Bret Hewett is a Director of Investments with Cortland Partners and is responsible for evaluating and managing real estate acquisitions and new development. Bret brings more than 10 years of finance, operations, and development management experience in hospitality and commercial real estate to this role.
Prior to joining Cortland, Bret developed a strong hospitality management background as a Senior Development Associate and Financial Analyst for Atlanta-based Concentrics Hospitality Solutions, where he performed an integral role in the finance, development, and construction of a number of award-winning restaurant concepts in Atlanta and Chicago. Bret also served as a Development Manager for Orlando, Florida-based Ustler Development and its affiliated companies. In this role, his primary focus was on urban, infill development of commercial real estate, including Thornton Park Central, an award-winning, $32 million mixed-use project. Bret began his career as a planner with Glatting Jackson, a community planning and urban design firm based in Orlando, Florida.
Bret is an active member of the Urban Land Institute. He earned an MBA and a master's of science in Real Estate from Georgia State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida.