Cydney Donnell “81, director of real estate programs at Mays, was chosen for the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts’ 2006 Industry Achievement Award for her career’s work promoting real estate trusts and investment advantages. She is the first woman to ever receive the award.

The award was created to honor professionals who have contributed to the real estate industry and to the programs of the national association. Real estate investment trusts, known as REITs, pool funding from multiple investors to purchase and manage income properties such as multifamily housing and retail centers. REITs are traded on major exchanges, just like stocks.

Donnell, a 1981 Texas A&M finance graduate, has been one of the REIT industry’s strongest advocates in the investment community. She personally campaigned for the investment advantages of REITs among the leaders of major European institutions. From 1986 until 2003, she worked with European Investors, Inc, one of the first firms to offer dedicated REIT funds. She was principal, managing partner and eventually chair of European Investors’ investment committee and head of its real estate securities group.

Donnell’s advocacy of REITs wasn’t limited to Europe. She also spent time on Capitol Hill making sure the industry’s agenda was heard. “Her contributions in meetings with congressional leaders and their staffs were always invaluable, because Cydney was telling the REIT story from an investor’s point of view,” said Steven A. Wechsler, president and CEO of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. “And that was incredibly compelling.”

This isn’t the first major industry recognition for Donnell: She was also voted one of the Association of Real Estate Women’s 100 Women Real Estate Leaders for the 21st Century.

Since joining Mays in 2003, Donnell has created and taught new graduate and undergraduate courses in portfolio management and real estate capital markets within the Department of Finance. She agreed this spring to lead the department’s real estate programs, overseeing its speaker series and the Master’s in Land Economics and Real Estate.