Interviewed December 2006
Kenneth Ho is a Senior Associate for Cherokee Investment Partners, LLC in their Denver, CO office and a 2003
alumnus of UNC. Cherokee — a private equity fund with more than $2 billion under management — specializes
in the acquisition, remediation and sustainable redevelopment of brownfield sites. Kenneth's responsibilities at
Cherokee include deal sourcing, underwriting, negotiations, business plan execution, and a role as sustainability
liaison for his office to Cherokee's headquarters in North Carolina.
In its focus on brownfields remediation and redevelopment of otherwise unusable land, Cherokee has an
inherently sustainable mission, but they are now implementing more strategies to take sustainability to
the next level in the company and the projects they fund. Cherokee would like to integrate sustainability into every
redevelopment project it conducts — such as the LEED certified transit station in the
Meadowlands, NJ project which Cherokee championed. Kenneth's role as sustainability liaison is to ensure that
Cherokee's commitment to sustainability is communicated to and implemented by its development partners.
When asked how he became so sustainability-minded, Kenneth attributed it to a critical geographical
relocation. When Kenneth moved to California to attend Stanford University as an undergraduate, the marked
difference between his new home and the Rhode Island environment where he had been raised struck him. Contrasting
the sidewalk-fronted neighborhoods and walking culture of the Northeast to the garage-fronted, cul de sac
communities and driving culture in California helped him see how development of the built environment can
drastically affect the social environment. Kenneth became fascinated with how these environments influence
each other and was attracted to the challenge of harmonizing the social and built worlds and to the
long-term perspective needed for urban planning.
He earned his BA in Urban Planning from Stanford and went to work for Moore, Iacofano, Goltsman,
Inc. (MIG), a Berkeley, CA-based urban planning consulting firm. After a few years, Kenneth found he wanted to
move beyond the planning stage of community redevelopment to making things happen in development. With a goal
to get involved in environmentally-responsible real estate development, Kenneth chose to attend UNC Kenan-Flagler
to earn a dual masters' degree in Business Administration and Regional Planning with a concentration in Real
Estate — not knowing that he would find the perfect fit for his interests a few miles away at
Cherokee when he graduated in 2003.
While living and working in Berkeley, CA, Kenneth began to believe that the most effective way to protect the
environment was not to place it above all other considerations as some do, but to find a way to balance the
preservation of it with the development and growth of society. He chose to attend UNC Kenan-Flagler largely because
it was one of the first schools to have a center devoted to finding this type of balance, the Center for
Sustainable Enterprise. Kenneth noted that, through the curriculum and his involvement with the Net Impact club
and research centers, Kenan-Flagler "gave me the framework and vocabulary to be pro-environment in addition to
being pro-society and pro-economy: balancing all three, not holding one above at the cost of the others."
Kenneth believes strongly that we each have a responsibility to serve and improve our world. He believes in
thinking locally and getting involved in his community, which he has demonstrated through his service as a
former Arapahoe County Planning Commissioner and his current role as a Board Member for Historic Denver, Inc. where
he focuses his efforts on community preservation. Kenneth points out that there is a lot that people with an
MBA skill set can offer and that community involvement is one of the most valuable ways to spend time. In both
commitment to community, value for the environment, and sustainable development, Kenneth and Cherokee are
ideally-suited. We are all looking forward to watching what they will accomplish next.
Sustainability Reading Recommendation:
The Journal of Green Building Published by: College Publishing
Kenneth had too many favorites to choose just one, so he is recommending
his current reading material, the Journal of Green Building,
a new journal — still in its first volume — which offers
current industry and research articles about green building. He
enjoys the journal as a way to stay current in his field.
Nominee for Sustainability Superstar:
Of course, the smart money here is on Cherokee Investment
Partners, but looking beyond his company, Kenneth cites
the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as an exceptional
organization. He recently attended the Annual USGBC Conference in
Denver with 16,000 other people where it was apparent just how much
USGBC has done in the past few years to increase awareness and build
the momentum of the green building industry to affect real change
in the real estate — and many other — industries.