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Thursday, November 2, 2023

Black Female Real Estate Legal Expert Makes History, Becomes Progress Residential’s New General Counsel

Ama Romaine

NationwideProgress Residential, the nation’s leading single-family rental (SFR) management services platform, has hired Ama Romaine as the company’s new General Counsel. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Ms. Romaine will manage all legal operations, including acquisitions and dispositions, securities and employment matters, governance, litigation, and legal compliance for Progress Residential, which services more than 250,000 residents across approximately 100,000 homes. Ms. Romaine succeeds Ariel Amir, who is retiring after serving more than 5 years as the company’s General Counsel.

Ms. Romaine brings over 20 years of experience as a senior legal and business executive, including extensive experience in multi-unit real estate businesses across several asset classes including hotels, housing, logistics, retail, and office. Ms. Romaine was most recently Managing Director and Global General Counsel in real estate asset management for Blackstone, where she developed the first operations-focused, legal support function for Blackstone real estate managers and served as a strategic advisor to the asset management team of over 40 portfolio companies globally. At Blackstone, Ms. Romaine advised on a broad range of issues related to litigation, compliance, ESG, risk, and reputation management.

“Ama’s extensive experience in affordable, multi-family, student, and manufactured housing makes her an outstanding choice to represent our resident-focused business,” said Adolfo Villagomez, Chief Executive Officer of Progress Residential. “As our new General Counsel, Ama will help us continue Progress’ driving goals of growing operational excellence, efficiency, and purpose. We wish Ariel Amir the best in retirement and thank him for his dedicated leadership at Progress for the past five years.”

“I am thrilled to be joining Progress Residential, a pioneer in the SFR industry that so many residents and families across the nation call home,” said Ms. Romaine. “I look forward to working with this team as Progress continues to not only grow but lead as a best-in-class management services company.”

Progress Residential is a market leader in intelligent single-family rental management services, with people, technology, scale, and data-driven solutions that streamline operations, optimize asset performance, and provide an exceptional renting and living experience for our residents. Progress Residential’s approximately 2,500 employees currently manage approximately 100,000 homes across 30 markets. Progress Residential also offers third-party property management services for investors with mid-to-large single-family rental home portfolios and Built to Rent communities through its Progress Residential Management Services. For more information, please visit RentProgress.com

Editors of BlackNews.com recently conducted a Q&A interview with Ama Romaine. Here’s how it went:

1. What does it mean to you to advance Black women’s representation in the real estate industry?
It means a great deal, although it’s only one part of how I show up in the workplace. As a Black woman in a leadership role at Progress Residential, I am mindful that representation matters, and I am committed to using my platform to make a meaningful impact on the communities where we operate. At Progress Residential, we have over 100,000 homes in communities across the country, from Atlanta to Las Vegas. I am proud that we are able to serve many families of color, including Black families, and work in partnership with state and local governments to address housing insecurity.

2. What do you hope to bring to Progress Residential in your new role?
I like to think of myself as an innovator working across different organizations to implement solutions to complex issues. I have found that I am most effective when my work is informed by both my professional and personal experiences. It enables me to craft legal solutions that reflect the needs of various stakeholders, which ultimately leads to better business outcomes. In previous roles, I have been responsible for everything from elevating the Motel 6 brand to leading and making significant advances with G6 Hospitality’s ESG platform to advising multifamily and affordable housing companies while implementing strategic priorities across a 40+ company real estate portfolio at Blackstone. I’m continually learning new ways to approach different situations and value fresh perspectives.

3. How did your extensive background working across the hospitality industry prepare you to work with Progress Residential?
I’ve spent more than 15 years in the hospitality industry, and have held numerous positions, rising to become General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at G6 Hospitality—the parent company to Motel 6.

In many ways, with its people-first values, Progress Residential’s priorities align closely with those of a hospitality company. Progress Residential aspires to create the best experience for our residents in the industry. Our commitment to our residents is that we will deliver a home in their community of choice. For us, providing secure and stable housing to each of our residents is deeply personal and it is a responsibility we take seriously. Over the past two years, under the leadership of our CEO Adolfo Villagomez, Progress Residential has increased its investment in customer-centric roles and technologies to enhance the resident experience and drive continuous improvement across our portfolio. We are focused on implementing technologies that will enhance every aspect of our service delivery in the same way that hospitality brands strive to create consistency in the guest experience.

4. What challenges did you face coming up the ranks as General Counsel, especially as a Black woman?
Representation matters. While I don’t subscribe to the adage that you can’t be what you can’t see, I know that there were times when the lack of representation made my journey lonelier, which sometimes led to self-doubt. Even though most leaders can relate to these feelings, research has shown that they are particularly acute for black women because we are often the first and/or only—particularly as we get to higher levels of our careers. When I experienced self-doubt, I worked hard to silence the negative narratives in my head because I recognized that they did not serve me, and in fact, they were limiting beliefs that would prevent me from achieving my goals. I was also very intentional about surrounding myself with people who could help me to see what was possible while limiting the time I spent with people who preferred to focus on roadblocks and impediments to success—which are really just stepping stones.

5. What advice would you give to rising Black professionals in the legal space and beyond?
Establish clear objectives for yourself that are directionally certain but be nimble and agile. Be open to various possibilities and build relationships broadly – including with people who don’t look like you because no one achieves success alone or in a vacuum. One of my mentors once shared that if everyone in your network looks like you, that’s not a network, it’s a circle of friends. Finally, understand that failure is not the opposite of success. Learning from our mistakes is essential to our long-term success.