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Tucker named Wood Center Executive Director

Jeff Tucker

We are excited to announce that Jeff Tucker (MBA ’00) has been selected as the next executive director of the Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate Studies, effective July 10. Tucker is a long-time friend of the program, an engaged alumnus of UNC Kenan-Flagler, a dedicated leader, and an experienced professional within the real estate private equity arena.

Jeff Tucker poses with former UNC Kenan-Flagler Dean Paul Fulton at the Bell Hall groundbreaking in September 2022.

Jeff Tucker poses with former UNC Kenan-Flagler Dean Paul Fulton at the Bell Hall groundbreaking in September 2022.

Tucker has more than 20 years of private equity experience, with the last 16 focused specifically on real estate. He most recently worked as the co-chairman and chief operating officer of Century Bridge Capital, a Beijing and Dallas-based private equity real estate firm focused on middle-class residential developments in China. Since starting the firm in 2007 with his partners, he has built and managed Century Bridge’s operations, which included building the firm’s investment team in Beijing, designing and implementing an investment strategy and process, raising institutional capital, and overseeing investor relations with the firm’s Limited Partners around the world. Under the leadership of Tucker and his partners, the firm invested approximately $650 million of equity and debt in 19 developments and co-developed 22,679 residential housing units in 16 cities across China.

Tucker believes his international real estate experience has afforded him skills that will be beneficial as he transitions into his new role as executive director. “Co-founding an investment firm in China and navigating the many cultural intricacies there has taught me a lot about the importance of teamwork,” he said. “I also hope that my international industry relationships will be a powerful leverage point for the benefit of the Wood Center.”

Along with his industry experience, Tucker brings a vast knowledge and intimate understanding of the business school to this role. Since graduating from UNC Kenan-Flagler with his MBA in 2000, he has remained engaged with the school. He received UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2001 and its Global Leadership Award in 2015. In 2001, he formed the Rollie Tillman, Jr. Development Fund, an endowment fund aimed at enhancing UNC Kenan-Flagler’s development efforts. He is the former chair of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Alumni Council and just concluded a four-year term as chair of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Board.

“Kenan-Flagler changed my life,” he said. “It sounds dramatic but it’s true. The only place I was ever a happy student in my life was at Kenan-Flagler. And I think it was the culture that drove that. I love that we use the word ‘we’ far more often than we use the word ‘I’, and that has always been a hallmark of the school that has resonated with me since day one. It’s the reason I keep trying to give back as a board member, as board chair, as a donor, and by speaking to classes.”

With only a few short weeks until Tucker joins the staff in the office, he said he is most excited to work with the people at the Wood Center and Kenan-Flagler. He says he is not approaching his new role with a predetermined game plan, but instead is ready to first listen and learn before working with the Wood Center team on the path forward.

“The Wood Center is one of the crown jewels at Kenan-Flagler, and it gives me great confidence knowing that such a strong foundation has been laid,” he said. “My goal is to work with the team to take it to the next level without losing the fabric of the culture that has been very deliberately built over the past twenty years.”

Tucker, who received his BBA in finance from Southern Methodist University, lives in Dallas with his wife Allison and daughter Eleanor. He plans to split his time between Texas and their home in Chapel Hill.

“It was actually my wife who put the bug in my head about this job back in January,” Tucker said. “She told me, ‘You’re at your best when you’re doing things at UNC.’ And as the case is more often than not, she’s right!

“I am being given the unique opportunity to do something that leverages everything I’ve done in the past, takes me in a new direction and allows me to do something impactful for a place that I love.”

Tucker will be replacing former Executive Director Jim Spaeth, who transitioned into a full-time professor of the practice position in January 2023.